Alexander Jones Parker, a Spanish major with a teaching education option, will serve as the new NC State student body president. The NC State Bulletin has profiled the new student leader. And Samuel Sotillo of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures (FLL) contacted Alex and asked him a few questions about himself and about the challenges and opportunities that come with his new position.
Samuel Sotillo: Where are you from?
Alex Parker: I was born in Greenville, NC, but I grew up here in Raleigh. I am a proud alumnus of Needham Broughton High School.
SS: Why did you choose to come to NC State?
AP: I choose NC State because of its passion for service. At NC State, we do not just earn degrees. We are here to get a degree that we can use to better the lives of the people around us and that drew me in to this university.
SS: Why did you choose to major in Spanish?
AP: I love learning about the culture and language in Latin America and Spain. In high school I was introduced to many parts of Hispanic heritage and culture and their traditions. That inspired me to learn more.
SS: You are in the Teaching Education Option program. Are you planning to be an educator?
AP: I come from a long line of educators, from a physical education teacher in an elementary school to an art professor at the College of Charleston, to an English professor at UNC-Asheville. Teaching is in my blood. Education is a way that I can help improve the world by investing in one child, one student, and one life at a time. I am also an NC Teaching Fellow and this state has given me so much that I am looking forward to serving my state and community after I graduate as a teacher.
SS: What experiences have you had as a foreign languages major with a teaching education option that you think will be the most useful in your professional life?
AP: One of the most important skills companies look for in a graduate is cross-cultural competence. As our world becomes more globalized, we need leaders who can operate in an ever more globalized world. As a foreign languages and literaturs major, you learn about communication. Understanding language — and even more importantly, culture — will benefit anyone who wants to succeed professionally.
SS: What is the most challenging aspect of your major? What’s the most rewarding?
AP: My major is inherently challenging. Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” FLL majors’ job is to learn about another culture and language while being immersed in our own culture. This cognitive dissonance allows us to learn how to explore new ideas, cultures, and traditions even when they challenge our assertions.
SS: When you think of the future, what gives you a sense of hope? What concerns you?
AP: Our world is becoming ever more globalized and connected, due mainly to technology. Because of this I believe that in my lifetime we are going to reach a critical point. Our world is either going to accept the idea that we are all human and build a better, more peaceful world, or we are going to reject our commonalities, expand our differences, and continue to pointlessly fight among ourselves. This belief gives me hope because every student I teach to understand others and to be tolerant of other cultures is one person who could tip the scale toward peace in our world.
SS: What’s next for you as student body president? What are you looking forward to?
AP: I am looking forward to how someone with my major plays out as SBP. Usually our student body presidents are political science majors or another degree. I am interested in education and making sure we provide the best education possible so it will be exciting to see what I can do to help NC State prosper academically and as a university. I am looking forward to Wolfpack Welcome Week and making sure that students are connected with the resources they need to succeed here at NC State.
Readers may contact and congratulate Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Samuel Sotillo