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January 21, 2011

January Student of the Month thriving at Cowley


Brandon SparksMaking the transition from high school to college can be difficult for some students, just not for Brandon Sparks, who has thrived at Cowley College and was recently named the school’s January Student of the Month.

Sparks, son of Bradley and Melissa Sparks, is a sophomore Business Administration major from Topeka. Sparks attended high school at Topeka Shawnee Heights, where he compiled a 3.86 grade point average and was an all-city track, cross country, and basketball athlete.

He has a brother, Jacob 23, and a twin sister, Lucinda 20, who attends Washburn University. His grandparents, Jerry and Gladys Sparks, reside in Belton, MO.

Matthew Silovsky, a former runner of Tiger head cross country coach Vince DeGrado at Cowley, and also at DeGrado’s previous school (Allen County), was a high school teammate of Sparks’ and told the runner he would enjoy attending Cowley.

The decision to attend Cowley has been a good one for Sparks.

 “Cowley has a great program academically and athletically,” Sparks said. “I am proud to be a Tiger.”

At Cowley, Sparks is involved in ACES (Academic Civic Engagement Through Service), and is a Cowley Tutor. He is also a member of the Tiger track and field team. Along with his involvement in activities and athletics at Cowley, Sparks has also been a leader in the classroom maintaining a 3.76 GPA.

Sparks’ accomplishments at Cowley have been noticed by many members of the faculty and staff of Cowley College. Charlee Wilson, Coordinator of Career and Tutoring Services, is one person on campus who has noticed Sparks accomplishments at the school.  “Brandon is a great guy,” Wilson said. “He is easy going, polite, dedicated, and a hard worker. I see Brandon as having a strong head on his shoulders, and have his sights set on accomplishing his goals for the future. As a Cowley Tutor, Brandon is exactly what I look for in a great tutor. He is responsible and reliable, shows a desire to help, is respected by his fellow tutors, and is appreciated by students who come in for tutoring. It has been a joy to work with Brandon this year.”

Along with his work as a Cowley Tutor, Sparks enjoys being challenged in the classroom and praised the work done by Cowley instructors Chris Mayer and Scott Layton.

“The teachers here at Cowley push you to do well,” Sparks said. “I was surprised and am honored to be recognized with the other Students of the Month.”

Sparks credits his father as being the most influential person in his life.

“He has always pushed me to better myself in track along with providing me with life advice,” Sparks said. “Without him I would not be where I am today.”

Sparks had an opportunity to train with the Tiger cross country team, which captured the program’s first ever national championship.

“It was awesome to be a part of that,” Sparks said.

Sparks anticipates competing in the 800 and 1,000-meter runs during the indoor track season. He will also compete in the 800 and 1,500-meter run in the outdoor season, and plans on running as part of the 4x800-meter relay team.

“I would like to qualify for nationals in as many events as I can,” Sparks said. “The coaches at Cowley are great, they push you to get better on the track and in the classroom.”

With the addition of some talented sprinters and distance runners, Sparks thinks the Tigers will add to their streak of four straight indoor and outdoor conference titles.

Mark Phillips, Cowley head track and field coach, has enjoyed the opportunity to coach Sparks.

“Brandon is a wonderful young man,” Phillips said. “He is hard working, responsible and respectful. He never has a bad thing to say about anyone and goes about his day in a very professional manner. He’s also a pretty good runner!”

After Cowley, Sparks plans to transfer to a four-year college and continue his track career. Once done with his schooling, Sparks would like to go into management and possibly open an Edward D. Jones branch.

“I believe in saving money as opposed to spending it on things you don’t really need,” Sparks said. “I would like to pass that message on to kids as its something people this age do not really think about.”