Courtesy of Southern Union State Community College

Creating beautiful things comes easy for Jon Parker. It is in his blood. His grandfather and uncles work in construction and his father is an artist; all of their works are sought after throughout east central Alabama. Little did Parker know that his creative mind would lead him to work on some of the most recognized landmarks in the United States.

Walk along New York City’s 5th Avenue, Wall Street or High Line, or visit the recently restored Harlem Fire Watch Tower, and you will be struck by the intricate detail of the architecture and iron work. These are just a few of the structures that Parker, a Southern Union alumnus, has had a hand in restoring or creating.

Parker received an associate’s degree in Engineering Drafting and Design from Southern Union. Parker, the lead draftsman and project manager for Allen Architectural Metals in Lincoln, uses his diverse skill set to see a project through from drawings and design to working with architects to the actual installation at the structure.

“They are all custom jobs, so every job has its unique challenges,” he said. “I learn something new each day. The things I learned at Southern Union really prepared me for my career.”

Before praising Parker, owner John Allen said that employees who have gone through the SU programs are always well prepared.

“I wish that I had 100 like Jon … He’s dedicated, loyal and easy to work with, no matter what stage of the project. He has gained a lot of confidence through the years.”

While Allen Metals can do “whatever the customer wants in cast iron” Parker said that the Harlem Watch Tower was one of his favorite projects. The two-and-a-half-year project received the 2020 MASterWorks Award for Best Restoration. Given by the Municipal Art Society of New York, the MASterworks Awards pay tribute to projects that make a significant contribution to New York City’s built environment.

“It is gratifying to watch something come together and know that you played a significant part in it,” Parker said.

Registration for Fall Semester classes at Southern Union is now underway. Fall classes begin Aug. 17. For more information on the registration process, visit