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Award-winning Student Leader Began ECC Career in High School Equivalency Program

Student Michael Parker is the first ECC student and the first male to win the Joan Keller Servant Leader Scholarship, an award for Phi Theta Kappa honor society members in North Carolina and South Carolina.

A little more than a decade ago, Michael 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 seventeen.

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 working toward a business degree at ECC.

Now, at twenty-eight, Parker has discovered a path that has turned him into an honor student, community activist, student leader, and prestigious scholarship winner.

“School comes first, but if I have any wiggle room, I’ll volunteer,” Parker says.

Apparently, that wiggle room has expanded. Since starting classes in 2016, he has helped with textbook recycling drives at the College, 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 just steps in whenever he sees a need,” says Tamara Frank-Pourvady, advisor for Alpha Omega Nu, Edgecombe Community College’s chapter of the student honor society Phi Theta Kappa.

“If you had told me five years ago that I would be a member of an honor society in college, I wouldn’t have thought that possible,” Parker says.

Even before he was inducted into the ECC chapter, he would pitch in and help the group.

“He is very consistent about being a servant leader,” Frank-Pourvady says. “He’s a very willing and earnest person. He has that old-fashioned politeness.

“He’s done so well. I’m so thankful he’s part of our group.”

Parker’s aptitude for service likely helped him win the $500 Joan Keller Servant Leader Scholarship, an award for Phi Theta Kappa members in North Carolina and South Carolina. College leaders believe he’s the first student from Edgecombe Community College to win the scholarship and the first male from any community college in the Carolinas to win.

“That’s really me?” Parker thought to himself when he learned he received the scholarship. “I shed a tear on the inside. I’m really proud of that.”

Among all the awards and accolades he’s received in recent years, Parker says he’s most proud of his growth as a person.

“I used to be very shy,” he explains. “But getting to know people at Edgecombe Community College has helped me network with so many different people.

“I believe this is a place where students can achieve and succeed. Being active in the life of the College and meeting people who I can help and who might be able to help me – I think the College supports and encourages this networking culture.”