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Fanfare for the common man

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Over 60 students, faculty, family and friends joined in celebration of kinesiology professor Travis Parker’s receiving of the American Federation of Teachers 2011 Higher Education “Everyday Hero” award at the Cosumnes River College Recital Hall, on Thursday, April 28.

Parker received the award for his “inspiring others, going above and beyond the call of duty and serving the community” through the establishment and his dedication to the Alpha Academy, an organization dedicated to making a difference in the lives of young African-American men, according to the AFT’s website.

The reception – jointly hosted by the CRC President’s Office, the Academic Senate and the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers – included colleagues, friends and acquaintances illustrating the many contributions and achievements Parker accomplished.

“He has been instrumental in the success of so many students – young students, college students, athletes, colleagues, friends, family – that it really is a privilege to publicly acknowledge Travis this evening,” CRC President Debbie Travis said following a brief foreword from CRC Campus Life Coordinator Winnie Moore LaNier.

CRC Academic President Marjorie Duffy further described the characteristics Parker embodied, which ultimately led to his winning of the award among 350 other nominees nationwide.

“He is a person you can count on and a person who contributes; a person who is a hero to many of us for the way that he impacts our lives,” Duffy said.

Dennis Smith, secretary treasurer of the California Federation of Teachers and fellow professor, union member and friend of Parker’s for a number of years, followed in showing a video of Parker’s acceptance speech at the AFT Conference in Philadelphia, where he received the award.

After Smith, a brief poem magnifying the importance and definition of everyday heroism was delivered by Elizabeth Smoot, a woman whose life had been impacted by Parker’s presence in the community.

Co-founder of the Alpha Academy John Taylor seemed the highlight of the event as his portion received many laughs and much clapping. He emphasized the importance of maintaining the legacy established by Parker and his colleagues.

“We need to solidify and institutionalize the legacy that Travis has created,” Taylor said.

For this to happen, CRC and its partnership with the Alpha Academy needs to be sustained long after he, Parker and their colleagues are gone, Taylor said.

Faculty Union President and history professor Jason Newman added to the reception in his recitation of a congratulatory letter sent to Parker from Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento).

“I commend you for co-founding the Alpha Academy, and your help to guide these young men and prepare them for the issues they may face,” Matsui said.”

The event concluded in climactic performance, fitting with the overall theme of everyday hero, as Parker joined his Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity brothers in their delivery of the Victorian poem “Invictus,” authored by William Ernest Henley.

“It matters not how strait the gate; how charged with punishments the scroll,” they recited. “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”

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Fanfare for the common man