Two William & Mary community members will be recognized for their unique contributions to people on campus and far beyond.
Ashley Huang ’24 and Janise Parker, assistant professor of school psychology, will receive the 2022 President’s Award for Service to the Community at this year’s Opening Convocation ceremony Aug. 31 in the Wren Yard.
The award is presented each year to one student and one faculty or staff member “who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to service and made a significant and measurable impact on our community.” Recipients are selected by the Office of Community Engagement and the President’s Office, and each receives $500 to donate to the community organization of their choice.
“Both recipients of this year’s President’s Award for Community Service are connectors, bringing resources, time, care and expertise to their engagement with others in our community,” said Melody Porter, director of the Office of Community Engagement. “Their work in partnership with others is part of who they are, and we are all stronger because of their many contributions.”
Ashley Huang ’24
Huang is being honored for the way her engagement in numerous communities has created opportunities for people to tell their own stories and build connections, and has promoted their health, well-being and growth.
“Receiving this award illustrates to me the importance of being genuine with your involvements,” Huang said. “Throughout high school and college, I made sure to spend my time doing activities and being with people that brought me fulfillment.
“Sometimes I doubted whether my work would lead to anything meaningful or significant for me professionally. But receiving this award underscores how possible it is for anyone to be a proactive and significant contributor to their community, no matter how small their actions feel and appear.”
Huang, a biology major, has contributed her time extensively as an English language tutor, emergency medical technician, equine therapy volunteer and videographer in Williamsburg communities as well as during high school in her hometown in Northern Virginia.
She was heavily involved in planning and executing activities at the Chinese Language House at W&M last academic year and works as a videographer in W&M human resources. Melding her interests, Huang uses videography to promote the organizations she volunteers for and to amplify the voices of those involved out to the larger community.
Abigale Xu ’22, who collaborated with Huang in planning Chinese Language House events, described how during the pandemic Huang used cultural mixers to unite and lift up Chinese Language House hallmates as well as their Landrum Hall neighbors in the Arabic and Japanese language houses.
“On regular weekday evenings, Ashley was usually busy with a variety of extracurricular activities or English tutoring,” Xu wrote in a supporting letter. “Over the weekends, she was often running EMT shifts at the Williamsburg fire station. From the huge amount of time she dedicated to her community over the past academic year, Ashley brought enthusiasm and passion to her community involvement with full sincerity and dedication.”
Parker receives this honor for actively sharing her expertise in psychology, mental health and social-emotional wellness with numerous segments of the larger community while encouraging and facilitating opportunities for her students to do the same.
“This award is an indication of the joy that comes with authentic living,” Parker said. “Service to humankind is a core aspect of who I am, and I can’t imagine living a life that required me to compromise the essence of my being. I am hopeful that the honor of receiving a community service award as a faculty member inspires other academics to appreciate the value in giving back to our communities in meaningful and impactful ways.”
Parker serves as a scholar-activist producing research that aims to amplify the voices of marginalized communities and identify ways to increase and strengthen the support provided to youth and families within them.
As a faculty member in the School of Education, she pursues opportunities to connect with and to help strengthen the lives of citizens in PK-12 schools, civic organizations, faith-based institutions and other youth and family serving agencies among others. She combines integration of service, activist scholarship and teaching in her commitment to community-engaged work.
In addition to giving numerous presentations and workshops for community groups, Parker writes a blog on “Psychology Today” that discusses student engagement, motivation and other issues surrounding mental health, primarily among Black youth. She explains current research to make it accessible to the public.
Pamela Eddy, professor of higher education, pointed out in a supporting letter that Parker introduces her students to community-based research as a cornerstone for their work as school psychologists.
“She self-identifies as a scholar-activist, using her training and expertise to empower others in the community and to inform understanding of key issues around mental health, social justice and community engagement,” Eddy wrote. “In the Supporting Mid-level Academic Leadership program, Dr. Parker conceived of a community engagement center that helps connect William & Mary scholars with community members seeking areas of support. The model she herself employs with her own outreach serves as an important foundation for this idea.”
Jennifer L. Williams, Communications Specialist