Morgan sophomore and political science major Sydney P. Parker has a passion for public service and a longtime interest in juvenile causes. Recently, that passion and interest were recognized, when Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan selected her to serve on the Maryland Youth Advisory Council (MYAC). On Sept. 11, 2015, Parker joined 54 other members chosen to serve on the Council, only a select 16 of whom were appointed by the governor.
“This is a great honor, and I’m really looking forward to getting involved with the issues that are important to Maryland’s youth,” said Parker. “I’m particularly concerned about how the justice system is treating our minority youth, and I believe that my involvement with the Council will put me in a position to make a difference and possibly invoke change at the legislative level.”
The Council, which operates under the auspices of the Governor’s Office for Children, was initially established in 2008 through the state legislature, as an effort to ensure that Maryland’s youth are given the opportunity to provide feedback and recommendations regarding public policies and programs that affect their future. The role of MYAC is also to keep the governor and Maryland General Assembly apprised of issues that are important to youth throughout the state. Each year, the Council is charged with formulating a legislative proposal and conducting public hearings on important youth-related matters.
Parker, who hails from Maryland’s Montgomery County by way of New Orleans, La., learned about MYAC through her mother, Pearl Parker. Acknowledging her daughter’s penchant for championing youth causes, and wanting her to find a platform where her voice could be heard, Parker’s mother urged her to submit an application. Of the hundreds of general applications that went into the Office for Children, 200 were forwarded directly to the governor for review and approval. And of those forwarded, only 16 were identified for an appointment. Parker was included in that distinguished group.
Having already been involved with the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ), Parker saw the opportunity of working with MYAC as a continuation of the work she had accomplished.
“Through my involvement with CJJ, I’ve seen the future snatched away from a lot of youths who got entangled and lost in the legal system. And quite frankly, as the sister of a 14-year-old brother, the fact that something like that can happen saddens me,” said Parker.
In addition to coming up with a legislative proposal, the members of MYAC are required to attend four to eight meetings per year, conduct a public awareness campaign, provide legislative testimony and produce an annual report. The Council members serve a maximum of two consecutive terms, which run from Sept. 1 to Aug. 30.
The work she is doing with MYAC and CJJ has had a profound effect on Parker’s aspirations. After graduating from Morgan as part of the Class of 2018, she wants to attend law school and possibly pursue a career in family law or juvenile justice.
“I believe in the youth building youth…. It helps create a better future for all of us,” added Parker.
With her activities outside of the classroom, Parker joins a long tradition of Morgan State University students who have committed themselves to public service and helping others. When asked why she chose to attend Morgan rather than other schools that may have been closer to home, she responded, “Morgan fits me as a person.”
Given her selfless dedication to positive change and a desire to make a difference, you know what? She fits Morgan, too.