LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has produced a number of students who have gone on to do great things for the state, country and world. For the Month of February, FOX16 Good Day Arkansas has been spotlighting UAPB alumni.
This week, the spotlight was on Dr. Mamie Parker, Jesse Mason and Terron Armstead.
Dr. Parker is a pioneer in the wildlife and fishing field. She earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from UAPB in 1980 and rose to the rank of Assistant Director for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The daughter of a single mother sharecropper, Dr. Parker first made history when she was became the first African American Northeast Regional Director in the Service, covering thirteen states.
Dr. Parker shared her mother’s love of fishing and it ended up shaping her eventual career path. She helped create the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, for which the President of the United States presented her with the Presidential Rank Award, the highest award given to government employees.
In 2005, she became the first African American inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame. In addition, Good Housekeeping magazine recognized her with the Women in Government Leadership Award. Dr. Parker has also been inducted into the UAPB Hall of Fame.
Mason will be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in a few weeks. He is a basketball legend and is currently Director Emeritus for the UA-Little Rock Cooperative Education Internship and Placement.
The story goes he converted an empty orange bag into a hoop and shot baskets in his bedroom with a rubber ball as an eight-year-old growing up in Millington, Tenn.
As a star at Arkansas AM&N, now UAPB, Mason played against a number of future NBA players, including Woody Saulsberry, Zelmo Beaty, Dick ‘Skull’ Barnett, John Barnhill, and Cleveland Buckner.
But at 6-0, and because there were so few black athletes playing the NBA at that time, Mason knew the odds of a pro career weren’t in his favor. His jersey number, 42 for his athletic idol Jackie Robinson, was retired by UAPB in 2016.
Outside of the sports world, Mason has made a major impact on Arkansas’s capital city. He served as vice-mayor of Little Rock and was member of the Little Rock Airport Commission.
Who Dat fans in Arkansas will be familiar with Armstead. As a New Orleans Saints offensive tackle, Armstead took over at starting left tackle as a 2013 rookie and hasn’t looked back. Armstead was an NFL third round draft pick and has opened every game at that position since.
In 2019, he opened 15 regular season contests and the NFC Wild Card Playoff at left tackle, as he was selected to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive campaign. Armstead blocked for what was tied for the NFL’s third ranked scoring offense and helped the Black and Gold reach the postseason for the third consecutive time.
Overall, he has appeared in 75 regular season games with 71 starts, opening all seven postseason appearances. He was the Saints Man of the Year in 2019 and the team nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Armstead played for the UAPB Golden Lions football team from 2009 to 2012. He was an All-Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) selection during his final three seasons at UAPB.