The heralded William L. Parker Award plaque located in the Administration building has a new name inscribed. Glendale Community College men’s soccer coach and kinesiology professor Laura Matsumoto is the newest recipient of the Parker Award, which was given to her in recognition of her commitment to serving the college in a variety of aspects.
“We are in the business of opportunity and possibility,” she said on Sept. 8. “Sometimes we lose sight of that and need to be reminded.”
Matsumoto’s impactful connection with GCC began back in 1999, where she was hired by the college as an instructor of assistive technology, following her internship for a rehabilitation services administration grant through the University of Southern California. Matsumoto received her M.A. in occupational therapy from USC and is a state-licensed occupational therapist.
Once the Disabled Students Programs and Services department of Glendale College expanded their course offerings for physical education, Matsumoto jumped at the opportunity for a hybrid position, where she taught adapted physical education and assistive technology. This paved the way for her to start an adapted indoor cycling class, one of the first of its kind in the state of California.
“We make it possible for students with disabilities to get the exact same education [as a non-disabled student at GCC],” she said.
Matsumoto, in a heartfelt presentation recited at her award banquet in front of fellow GCC faculty and staff, stressed the importance of finding the right solutions and strategies around the College to not just accommodate disabled students, but to give them the adequate resources to be successful. It’s not just about equality for Matsumoto, it’s about equity. Equality aims to promote fairness, while equity is giving everyone what they require to achieve prosperity, due to the fact that not everyone is competing on equal ground.
In conjunction with Dr. Lee Parks, Matsumoto coordinates the field studies program for disabled students, which organizes educational trips to places like Baja, Calif. and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Matsumoto is not just breaking ground within the realm of occupational therapy, she’s also bursting through the glass ceiling of men’s athletics. She has been with the men’s soccer team at GCC since 2006, where she served as an assistant coach up until 2013. In 2014, she took over the head coaching position of the Vaqs, which puts her in a special group within the athletic realm: a woman coaching a men’s sports team as head coach.
Athletics is bigger than the game for her, though. Matsumoto puts a premium on academic achievement for her student-athletes. Putting academics at the vanguard “allows these athletes to spread their wings,” said Matsumoto, which is evidenced by the strong matriculation rate among students-athletes at GCC.
“This is why I do what I do and I’m so thankful that I get to do it at GCC,” said Matsumoto.
Matsumoto cherishes time with her family, which includes Lucinda, her partner of over 20 years; her seven-year-old daughter, Kale’a; and four-year-old son, Griffin.
The Parker Award, first presented in 1993, is named after William L. Parker, a former philosophy professor at GCC and the first recipient of the award. Recipients are judged based on criteria that includes professional, community and academic service; appreciation by staff and faculty members of the college; and contributions to the college that have made a lasting positive impact.