Featured Alumnus: Jason K. Parker ’91
Many of the men who walk through Alumni Gate matriculate to top-tier institutions in the fall, where they will begin to build on the foundation of excellence that has been laid by Avon Old Farms. Other students, however, go on to answer a higher call following commencement.
About a month after graduating on the Village Green in 1991, Jason K. Parker reported to the Beast Barracks at the United States Military Academy at West Point. This was Parker’s goal even before he arrived at Avon.
“Nobody in my family had ever been in the military. I just didn’t really want to do what everyone else did.”
While at West Point, Parker played baseball, football, and studied engineering. He credits Avon for helping set him up for success.
“AOF was the bedrock from which I launched the life I wanted to live and not the life I was born into, and proves to be a touchstone for me even now, over 30 years since I attended. My years at Old Farms allowed and fostered my eventual success at West Point and in my life thereafter.”
Parker embraced the full Avon experience as a student. He served a term as secretary of the Student Council, was a Head Dorm Monitor, a member of the Spirit Club and Social Affairs, sang with the Riddlers, was a Varsity Baseball captain, played Varsity Basketball, and was an integral part of the 1990 Varsity Football Team now enshrined in the Avon Old Farms Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Avon Old Farms was a place of incredible opportunities, where there were high expectations placed upon me, where my brothers and coaches were highly motivated, and the faculty and administration kept me accountable. It was at AOF where I saw true leadership for the first time in my life,” Parker says.
It was clear to Parker that it takes a lot of people working together to make things happen at AOF. This was partially why he decided to fund the t-shirts for this year’s APK 5K run. The school-wide run, held every year on Veterans Day, was organized in memory of Andrew M. Pedersen-Keel ’02, who in March of 2013 was killed in action in Eastern Afghanistan. Students and staff could then buy the custom shirts for $20 with proceeds benefiting APK Charities, the non-profit Andrew’s parents established in his memory to help Connecticut veterans in need.
Parker indicated the other reason he agreed to support the cause is his shared experiences with Pedersen-Keel. Both matriculated from Avon to West Point before going on to serve their country.
"My part was a small piece that I was happy to perform," Parker says. "Additionally, APK and I are linked by some shared experiences, and although I never met him, I know him. He is me and I am him; he is us."
He indicated that Pedersen-Keel, and veterans everywhere, are the reason the AOF community are all together, in relative comfort, at an amazing school.
“Admirable in their example and noble in their purpose, the least we can do, one day a year, is remember someone we know who wore the uniform,” Parker said on Veterans Day. “Today, I remember APK.”
After his service came to an end in 2001, Parker put his engineering degree to work in the Silicon Valley region of California, where he has lived with his family for more than a decade. He now runs a wealth management advisory business and pursues various philanthropic endeavors. His reasoning for the latter sounds similar to what Avon boys have been taught for generations.
“I would just say it is important for me to do what I can, to live a life I am proud of and that takes doing worthy things. I talk to my family about service: to self, family, community, and country. While we cannot expect any of us to do all of it, we can expect all of us to do some of it. For our system to work well, we all have to give some of ourselves to it, in whatever way works best for each of us.”
He admitted that he would like to do more for and at Avon, but the timing has not worked well, with California being across the country and having children to raise. Now that those kids are all college age or above, he hopes to be able to visit more frequently.
“We came back last year for a football game against Kent, got to meet Coach Wholley, and celebrate with Kevin [Driscoll],” Parker says.
For Parker, AOF was instrumental to his life, past and present, and he maintains many of the relationships that began as a student.
“A few days ago, I was in Florida with three of my classmates playing golf. I just got a text with video from a teammate whose son was on Ryan Field getting some snaps, as a freshman! I am excited to see what the future holds.”