Paraisia Rene Winston was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1983, and grew up in the poor and working class neighborhood of Bronzeville. She is the daughter of Paris Winston and has a younger brother, Ja-Lil.
Paris Winston has been a teacher in Chicago Public Schools for more than twenty years. She raised Paraisia and Ja-Lil as a single parent, but not without the full experience of life. Ja-Lil was diagnosed with Autism at three years old. That caveat changed the dynamic of the family, but brought full circle the need for attentive, caring, and loving supporters.
She attended Holy Angels School in Chicago, IL where she completed her elementary studies. “Holy Angels introduced me to myself,” she says. The school strict discipline and emphasis on education stuck with Paraisia throughout her life.
After graduating from high school in 2001, Paraisia attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she graduated in 2005 with a degree in Urban and Regional Planning. She spent extensive time studying and working in East St. Louis, IL where she saw first hand the devastation of poverty. During her undergraduate years, she spent a summer abroad in Paris, France and traveling to other countries throughout Europe. Being abroad gave Paraisia a perspective on her life and the freedom to explore. The contrast of places molded a unique person with a broader vision and increased adeptness.
Paraisia attended law school at Loyola University Chicago where she participated in many organizations including Black Law Students’ Association and the Street Law Program. Paraisia returned abroad in 2007, spending nearly 3 months in Italy, France, Belgium, and England studying at Oxford University. In 2008, she visited Asian countries, including Thailand and Japan. Her extensive travels have become the inspiration for her travel blog series where she shares her journeys with us.
In May 2009, Paraisia Winston graduated from law school and started her career as an attorney. She received a very important gift for her graduation, her first internet domain space. It turned out to be the best gift she had every received and launched her career.
Paraisia credits God and knowing Jesus Christ with all of her personal success. “The foundation of that relationship changed my life.” Paraisia has been featured in Black Enterprise Magazine, the Loyola University Chicago Annual Report, and Fox News.
Paraisia is the co-founder of MIC, www.micup.org , an political mobility organization that encourages people to work alongside their elected officials to increase services and focus attention on the needs of underserved communities. Through the Albert Schweitzer Fellows, Paraisia founded ROCKSTARS, a teen girls group and program of the Gary Comer Youth Center.
Paraisia works full time as an attorney, but dedicates her free time to reading, running, and promoting awareness and opportunities for people with disabilities. Paraisia has one son, Caleb, and they live in Chicago.