BOSTON - Reigning America East women’s cross country champion Cathy Parker of the University of New Hampshire is no stranger to working hard and getting the results she strives for each and every day. The conference’s most successful runner translates that success from the cross country course to a place where she can make a huge difference in helping others, the hospital.

Parker, a native of Westford, Massachusetts, is currently enrolled at the University of New Hampshire for a number of reasons, but becoming a nurse is the primary focus despite all the accolades and accomplishments she has garnered as an athlete.

“Cathy’s success in the classroom and in athletics is a testament to her hard work and commitment,” said UNH head coach Robert Hoppler. “Her major requires a ton of work outside of the classroom. She makes everything work and always gives 110 percent no matter what the objective is in front of her,” he added.

Parker is currently in her second semester of her junior year and is taking three classes in addition to spending two eight-hour days at a clinic. The classes include; Alterations of Mental Health, Health Care Policy and Clinical Decision Making. Parker recently completed her mental health rotation and is on the verge of starting with the community health rotation, which consists of following a registered nurse to surrounding patients’ homes in the local community.

Parker’s been around the nursing field her whole life as both her grandmother and aunt are highly successful nurses. She came to the realization that nursing was a career she wanted to pursue during her senior year in high school.

“In my experiences, nothing else compares to helping others out on a daily basis,” said Parker.     “It’s very rewarding and a wonderful thing to make a difference in someone’s life. I love the satisfaction and confidence boost I get after a long workout and it’s the same exact feeling I get with being a nurse in training. It keeps me motivated and at the end of the day I feel good about myself,” she added.

After taking the winter season off due to an extra long cross country season, in which she placed 111th overall at the NCAA Division 1 Women’s Cross Country Championships and led UNH to a second place finish at conference championships by placing first overall, Parker is anxious to compete again.

“I’m just excited to be back at this level and compete,” stated Parker. A runner of Parker’s magnitude certainly sets high goals for she hopes to improve on her personal record in the steeplechase (10:32) and qualify for nationals in June.
Parker enjoyed one of the most successful seasons ever recorded by a UNH runner this past fall. She was the fourth Wildcat in the past decade to qualify for nationals and the first female runner to garner such a prestigious accomplishment. She was named to the All-Northeast Team for her fourth-place effort at the Northeast Regionals held at Van Cortland Park in New York. Parker lost to just two Kenyan runners from cross country powerhouse Texas Tech during the regular season. She was awarded America East “Performer of the Week” on three occasions and was twice named the ECAC “Athlete of the Week.” She ran a blistering time of 16:53.60 on a 5K course, which was the fastest ever recorded by a UNH women’s cross country runner.

In addition to Parker’s accomplishments on the running course, she also excelled in the classroom as evident by being named to the America East All-Academic Team and to the Division 1 Academic All-American Cross Country Team. To earn All-Academic individual honors, runners were required to have at least a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.25. A total of 76 individuals earned national All-Academic honors for the 2006 season.

Although she still has plenty of time before graduation, Parker plans to continue working at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington Massachusetts for the summer. She would love to someday work in Boston at Mass General or the Children’s Hospital. As for right now, Parker is enjoying the life of a student-athlete who is getting the most out of her education and athletic program. She hopes to add to her outstanding year in May with aspirations of bringing a conference championship to the Wildcats.
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