Scholarship given in student’s memory

Elaine Walton embraces Calera High School student Tam Ngo after surprising him with a scholarship to the University of Montevallo. (Reporter Photo/Jessica Crihfield)

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

CALERA – After Calera High School senior Parker Morris passed away in January, her status as an organ donor allowed others to live.

During CHS’ Class Day scholarship presentation on May 18, Morris’ mother, Elaine Walton, continued her daughter’s collegiate dreams by awarding her University of Montevallo scholarship to Morris’ best friend, Tam Ngo.

After Walton received a letter from UM asking Morris to confirm her fall attendance, she sent a letter and a photo of Morris to the admissions office explaining the situation.

“We had read in the newspaper about Parker’s loss and her tragedy,” said Greg Embry, director of admissions. “That obviously saddened us because she had been accepted to the university and would have joined the family in the fall.”

Embry is no stranger to loss, as he lost his brother in a car accident last year.

“I’ve seen the effect it’s had on my mom and dad. I’ve a little bit of an understanding of the pain they’re going through,” he said. “We have a scholarship here with my brother’s name, and I know that helped my parents a lot.”

Embry spoke with President Dr. John W. Stewart III and Dr. Rick Barth, vice president for enrollment management, about transferring Morris’ academic scholarship to another student of Walton’s choosing.

“It’s not something we do, but it was something I thought would be a very appropriate gesture to the family,” Embry said. “It was a no-brainer. It was something we wanted to do.”

After speaking with Embry, Walton saw a Facebook photo of Ngo holding his UM acceptance letter. She spoke with a guidance counselor, and a surprise was planned for the scholarship presentation time at CHS. Ngo was awarded a freshman leadership scholarship.

Ngo and Morris became friends in art class shortly after Ngo arrived at CHS.

“I felt it was a way to honor her memory,” Walton said. “At Parker’s memorial, Tam stood and gave such a testimony to who Parker was.”