CHARLOTTE,N.C. — The 2019 Nish Jamgotch Jr. Humanitarian Award was recently awarded posthumously to Riley Howell and Reed Parlier, two promising UNC Charlotte students who died when a gunman opened fire in a classroom on April 30, 2019.
Parlier, 19, was killed and four other classmates injured before Howell charged and tackled the shooter, ending the attack. Police said his actions stopped the gunman from shooting more people. Parlier, a sophomore, was studying computer science while Howell, 21, was an ROTC cadet who received military honors at his memorial service.
The Nish Jamgotch Jr. Humanitarian Award is presented annually to an individual or group that demonstrates exceptional service to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community. Named for the retired UNC Charlotte professor who established the program, the Nish Jamgotch Jr. Humanitarian Award is facilitated by Foundation For The Carolinas, which also holds the fund that supports the award.
The Jamgotch Award Committee noted that the 2019 recipients were unique because, due to the senseless violence that ended their lives, the extent of their creative and intellectual contributions to the community will never be known. However, both families have used the tragedy to provide inspiration and awareness on issues ranging from families impacted by gun violence to college education for deserving students.
“The lives of the Mr. Parlier and Mr. Reed exemplify in the most deserving way the humanitarian contributions envisioned by Dr. Jamgotch when the award was created,” said Brian Collier, FFTC Executive Vice President and member of the award committee.
Previous award winners include:
- Thereasea Elder, a public health pioneer who was among the first to integrate health care in the Charlotte region.
Ric Elias, CEO of Red Ventures and founder of Golden Door Scholars, a nonprofit that creates educational and career opportunities for high-performing undocumented students.
- Jeffrey Balek, a blind man using specially made braille books to volunteer at Y Readers, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte’s literacy program for students in grades K-3 who are reading below grade level.
- Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Major Mike Campagna and Mecklenburg County public defender Toussaint Romain, for their work during the 2016 Keith Lamont Scott protests.
In the words of Professor Jamgotch, “to be creative means to uncover something new; or to synthesize seemingly unrelated experiences in a fresh and inspiring way; or to provide a foundation for future intellectual and scientific breakthrough that can truly make a difference” and it is in this spirit that the annual award should be made.
The award includes a cash honorarium that was presented to the family. Howell’s family chose to direct their award to The Riley Howell Foundation at the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina and Parlier’s family directed their award to Chipping In Fore – The Ellis Reed Parlier Scholarship Fund.