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Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici presented TuHS senior Ellie Parker with the CAP's Billy Mitchell Award last week



TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Ellie Parker stands before Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici and Col. Ted Tanory as Tanory reads the accomplishments that earned Parker the Billy Mitchell.Dressed in her uniform with her hair in a bun, cadet Ellie Parker stood at rapt attention as she was presented with the Civil Air Patrol’s Billy Mitchell Award last week by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici.

Yet for Parker, a Tualatin High School senior and now a Second Lieutenant in the CAP, the award marked something that those around her already knew — Parker is driven to succeed. While her accomplishments are easy to adorn with accolades, Parker seems as though she’d rather go about her business quietly.

For the Mitchell Award, “you usually don’t do something this big, so it was a little bit surprising,” she said after the ceremony in Bonamici’s Beaverton office. “But it’s definitely a huge step and it’s really helpful with my application process to the (Air Force) Academy.”TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici presents Ellie Parker the Billy Mitchell Award as Col. Ted Tanory looks on at Bonamici's office at the Beaverton Building at The Round.

Parker’s end goal of earning a spot at the academy is part of what piqued her interest in CAP (the official auxiliary of the United States Air Force) in the first place. It’s why she’s pursuing her pilot’s license, with plans to have it by the end of the summer. And it’s partly why she’s involved in numerous other activities such as Youth Advisory Council, National Honor Society and varsity track. She’s also managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA while taking a full International Baccalaureate class load.

“Being able to present this award to Ellie Parker was for me an opportunity to highlight someone who is a constituent of mine with great leadership potential and a great role model for young people, especially young women, about choices that one can make to plan for the future,” Bonamici said. “It’s inspiring to see someone who has accomplished so much at such a young age.”

To earn her most recent award as a cadet in the Aurora Composite Squadron of the Oregon Wing CAP, Parker had to complete a series of leadership, aerospace and fitness tests, as well as attend character development training. On top of that, she had to go to an encampment and maintain active duty status in CAP for 18 months.

“Oftentimes, people make generalizations about youth today and how they’re not motivated and don’t care about things,” Bonamici said. “It’s inspiring to see someone who has accomplished so much at such a young age. It’s hard to believe she’s still in high school when I hear about her background.”

Parker’s resume of CAP and civilian accomplishments might seem long for a high schooler, but it’s standard issue for her. With big goals set early, Parker has set out to accomplish them without hesitation. Once she decided she wanted to join the Air Force Academy her freshman year, that was that — she hasn’t looked back since.

“It’s been an adventure, becoming an officer,” she said. “Once you have your Mitchell Award, a lot more doors open so I’m really excited to see what’s to come.”

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