Susan Parker helps Sisters youth aspire to more. photo provided
Susan Parker helps Sisters youth aspire to more. photo provided
When Susan Parker moved to Sisters from the Bay Area with her husband Brian Farrow eight years ago, after a 37-year career working as a vice president and buyer for Macy’s, she wanted to stay active in a meaningful way and become part of the small-town community. A friend at Black Butte Ranch mentioned the ASPIRE program at Sisters High School, which provides mentors to support students in navigating their post high school plans. Parker felt an immediate sense of excitement to get involved. 

“I spent most of my career in management and our business philosophy emphasized the need to ‘grow’ people, so the idea of working with young adults to plan their futures felt perfectly natural to me,” she said. 

“I love working with students and helping them put together the puzzle pieces for a game plan, which includes running through all sorts of questions with them about their interests, where they want to live, what size of school they are comfortable with, and things like that,” she said. 

Parker, a native of Pendleton, takes on five juniors and five seniors each year, which keeps her plenty busy, but she says it is very gratifying.

“Over time you can really develop a relationship with these students,” she said. “They invite me to come to their games and to other events at the school and introduce me to their parents, so it’s helped me to get to know people in the community.”

About four years ago a member of the Graduate Resource Organization (GRO), which administers and manages local scholarships for Sisters High School graduates, approached Parker about becoming a board member. Parker’s work with ASPIRE had given her a strong sense of the generosity of the local community, along with a keen understanding of how important it was to help students find ways to finance their future educational plans. 

“I am still blown away that a community the size of Sisters now has over 70 different donors to the GRO scholarship program,” she said. 

Parker can be credited with recent growth in the program as the leader in donor development. GRO added a dozen new scholarships in the past year thanks in large part to Parker’s work. 

Parker knows that helping students with applications for college and other programs, as well as the GRO scholarships, takes a burden off of parents.

“Parents are busy and want the best for their kids, so they are very grateful for the help the ASPIRE mentors can offer,” she said. 

Parker encourages adults with time to help to get involved with ASPIRE.

“We can always use more mentors and the work is gratifying on many levels,” she said. 

Rick Kroyt at SHS (rick.kroytz@ssd6.org) coordinates ASPIRE volunteers at Sisters High School.