Charise Clark is Ready to Change Lives

JACKSONVILLE – Determined 37 year old, mother of four, Charise Clark always knew she wanted to be a teacher. “I spent 11 years as a Marine. However, I have also spent a great deal of my life wanting to teach.”
When her son was diagnosed with symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Clark made the decision to dedicate her career to helping children with the disability. Thanks to the Early Childhood Education program at University of Mount Olive at Jacksonville, Clark will become a teacher able to make a positive impact on numerous lives affected by the disorder. “I have devoted my life to ensuring that my son and children like him have a stronger chance for fulfilling, productive and happy lives.”
University of Mount Olive’s flexible evening program enabled Clark to earn her bachelor’s degree at her own pace. “I chose Mount Olive because I am not a traditional student.  The demands of my life simply aren’t conducive to the demands of the traditional college student.  I needed a program that would allow me to be a parent and student combined, and I found that at MOC.”
Having a good support system and a spirited mind-set helped Clark complete college. “I find strength from the other ladies in my classes; we have been together from the beginning, and I will miss them dearly.  I try to keep in mind that I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to complete my education.”
Clark understands that every child needs a good role model, especially those that may have more obstacles to overcome than others. “After having spent the majority of my life with children, I see the positive impact that I can make with them.  I also see the outcome of children who lack that positive impact in their lives.”
University of Mount Olive professors have had a great impact on her life as well. “I have been inspired by many of my instructors. I go to them for guidance regularly and I have never been disappointed.  Whether I need a practicum site, a recommendation, their perspective, or if I’m stuck on an academic issue, they have been there to support me.  I appreciate and thank God for each of them.”
University of Mount Olive has transformed Clark’s life for good. “University of Mount Olive allowed me the opportunity to actually graduate and move my career forward.  The planned curriculum and consistent one-night-a-week option really took the guess work out of the equation for me.” Now Clark is elated to finally finish the goal she set out to achieve. “It has taken me eight years to complete this degree. It took a back seat to my obligations as a mother, and I am proud, excited and thankful for this blessing!”
Clark is headed to graduate school immediately after earning her early childhood education degree from
University of Mount Olive, but she will still allow herself time to celebrate her amazing achievement. “The kids and I never miss an opportunity for cake,” she laughed. “There is about a week in between my last day of class and the first day of graduate school.  I hear a road trip calling our names.”
Clark will be one of approximately 320 students to graduate from University of Mount Olive on Saturday, August 18 at 2:00 PM in Kornegay Arena.
University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The College, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville.  For more information, visit www.moc.edu.