Monday, 15 September 2014

When I Grow Up I Want To Be... AGP

After having one of the best summers of my life, it seems almost impossible to give up my adventurous, carefree lifestyle. And for what?!  Late night study sessions and early morning classes?! You all know what I'm talking about... Mid-September. No more beer gardens, no more bands, and you may actually have assigned readings that could appear on an exam. Heck, midterms are already around the corner. Summer is officially over and I find myself absolutely dreading all the things I’ll have to do, all the things I’ll have to give up, and all the things I’ll have to endure in the next 8 months.

But here’s the thing...have you noticed how many times I've said ‘I’? 

In between already longing for the summer months, the seemingly endless homework, and the uncertainty of being a 20-something, it is easy to lose sight of why we are actually in this rat race we call university. It’s just easy to get lost in ourselves. Especially in mid-September. 

But hey, we are only human. Sometimes we need a little reminder of where we’ve come from and why we’re here.  Sometimes we just need a little inspiration.
Luckily for me, I didn’t have to look very far for that inspiration. His name is Andrew G.Parker, also known as A.G.P, and he is pure Edmonton and pure awesome. 

A.G.P is not just a successful University of Alberta Golden Bears alumnus (he has two degrees!). He is not just a professional basketball player and coach. He is not just a community activist rallying for Edmonton's youth. He is an inspiration to any university student striving to make a difference in this world. He understands the big picture on the most important level: the ground. He is the guy who reminds us that our daily grind is about more than just our individual needs. (NOTE: The “Daily Grind” is also more than just a coffee place on campus…)

When I grow up I want to be A.G.P 

I could say that I want to be A.G.P. because I think I shoot some pretty mean hoops (in my dreams), or because I want to add two degree abbreviations to my name, or because I simply like the idea of being known by my initials, but all of those reasons would be lies. I want to be like A.G.P. because of the approach he takes to life and the impact he has on local communities. 

For example, this summer, I was fortunate enough to attend a streetball tournament called Pride Of The Northside (POTNS), an outreach event on the Northside of the city that promotes the development of community through the game of basketball, hosted by Andrew Parker and the A.G.P squad. Within two short minutes of arriving at POTNS, Andrew greeted me like an old friend despite the fact that we had only been in contact via email and Facebook communication, he gave me a shout-out on the loudspeaker, and awarded a young boy a $25 iTunes card for turning in a cell phone he had found, because in Andrew’s words, “the world needs more honest men.” The boy was glowing with pride--Northside pride.   Basketballs were flying in every direction, kids were shouting and everyone was grinning from ear to ear.  Technically, this wasn’t my community, but I felt at home. 

As I watched the community interact with Andrew and Andrew interact with the community, I knew that there was something really special about this guy. Mayor Don Iveson, a guest at the event, congratulated A.G.P on his hard work and selfless dedication to the community. He credited Andrew as someone who makes Edmonton a better place each and every day. And after talking to Andrew myself, I could see why. 

Although he didn’t know it, during the course of our conversation, Andrew ended up giving me priceless advice on how to get that motivation back in my life--my September mojo if you will.--How to keep the big picture in my mind while staying completely on the ground. And he did it with these three simple, but powerful comments:   

Andrew on community:

"I would like the kids to remember me, not as a pro athlete, not as a coach, but as somebody who grew up here and who still loves being from here.

I just want to see people continue to help each other. That’s all I care about. Because I love my community, I love Edmonton and I’m never going to stop!"

His philosophy: 

"A.G.P- not just my name, but for what it stands for. It stands for Always Gaining Progress. That means every single day you wake up, you try and be a better person than you were the day before. Always Gaining Progress." 

Advice to Students: 

"Don’t forget who you are. I know when we go to school we amass a lot of knowledge, we gain a lot of experience, we mature a lot, but never forget where you come from. My parents came here as immigrants from Grenada and Jamaica and I went to M. E Lazerte school on the North side…. Once I graduated, it was one of the most empowering feelings. Never ever forget who you are and where you come from."  

These late night study sessions and early morning classes are not really for the grades nor are they for the future paychecks. I’m here for community. I’m here to find a place where I belong and where I can continue to help people.  Every day I wake up, I want to try to be a better person than I was the day before. This September and everyday September after that, I want to be A.G.P- Always Gaining Progress. 

so thank you Mr. Parker, for being a role model, an activist, and a community leader; thank you for inspiring Edmonton, from the North side to the south and from the prepubescent to the mature, . Because when you strive to be a better person, one by one or ten by ten, the community follows suit.

About the Author

Howdy. I’m Jobey-- a fourth (+2) year BA student studying Spanish Language and Literature and Women’s and Gender Studies. I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up, but if I had to choose, I would probably say Shakira because her hips don’t lie. And honesty is important to me. 

I have two obsessions that keep my heart perpetually pleased and my bank account endlessly empty: shoes and travel.  To date, I have visited 14 countries (studied in three!) and I own more shoes than I care to publicly admit. 

I am totally stoked to be a member of the 2014 YouAlberta Blogging team! I hope that my unique educational experiences will help me find and highlight all of the fascinating students we have on campus.  Be advised: If you’re out there and you’re awesome, I will find you. And we will talk!  :) 


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