High school dropout. International success story. Michael Parker is both – and much, much more.
A little more than a decade ago, Parker dropped out of high school and joined the workforce, knocking around Eastern North Carolina, searching for his way in life.
“I was not mentally focused,” he says of his decision to drop out of high school at age 17.
After a few years of low-paying hourly jobs, Parker decided education was the key to his future. He enrolled at Edgecombe Community College, earned his GED, and then began coursework toward a business degree at ECC.
Now, at 28, Parker has discovered a path that has turned him into an honor student, community activist, student leader, and, most recently, international award winner.
In April, Parker was selected as one of 30 students worldwide to receive the International Distinguished Chapter Member Award at the 2018 International Phi Theta Kappa Convention.
“I was shocked by the award,” he says. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Phi Theta Kappa is an honor society for students attending two-year schools, with about 1,300 chapters across the globe. ECC’s chapter is especially committed to community service.
As a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Parker has helped with textbook recycling drives, picked up trash along an Adopt-a-Highway section in Edgecombe County, assisted in Hurricane Matthew cleanup efforts, visited elementary schools, and helped with the Buck Leonard Park renovation. He also is a volunteer at the local Head Start program.
“He steps in whenever he sees a need,” says Tamara Frank-Pourvady, advisor for Alpha Omega Nu, Edgecombe Community College’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.
Parker’s focus on serving others has been a lifelong calling. “I’ve always been a caring person and sensitive to others’ needs, sometimes ahead of my own. I genuinely enjoy helping other people,” he says.
All of his extracurricular activities at the College focus on service. He is president of Alpha Omega Nu as well as president of Phi Beta Lambda, the Business Club.
He serves on the advisory board for the Learning Resource Center and has been an active member of EMPAC since his days in the High School Equivalency Program.
EMPAC – Empowering Males with a Purpose to Achieve and Celebrate – is the minority male mentoring program. Parker says this organization has been especially pivotal in helping him mature and develop leadership skills.
“EMPAC was the first student organization I joined at ECC. It helped me because I was able to travel to different universities, like NC State, Shaw, and NC Central. I have attended the Uplifting Black Men Conference at Virginia Tech twice.
“All of these experiences helped to expand my outlook and broaden my world view.”
Parker is on track to complete his ECC degree in Business Administration in May 2019. Subsequent plans include earning a four-year degree and then possibly starting a business that focuses on service.
“Being active in the life of the College and meeting people who I can help and who might be able to help me has been life-changing,” he says.
“Edgecombe Community College is a place where students can achieve and succeed.”
ECC STUDENT CLUBS & ORGANIZATIONS
- Barbering Club
- BUTTERFLIE (Building Unity through Teamwork, Empowerment, Respect, Friendship, and Leadership to Inspire Excellence)
- Criminal Justice Club
- ECC Ambassadors
- EMPAC (Empowering Males with a Purpose to Achieve and Celebrate
- Human Services Club
- International Club
- Phi Beta Lambda
- Phi Theta Kappa
- Edgecombe Radiography Organization
- Student Association of Medical Assisting
- Student Government Association
- Student Nurses Association
- Student Veterans Association