Meet student leader Brent Clark Jr. He graduated Spring 2016 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Sociology and Government minor. Currently, Brent is taking on his first year at Sac State’s sociology graduate program. He is also a member of Black Student Union and Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society and serves a student assistant at Peer and Academic Resource Center (PARC) on campus.
(Brent Clark Jr. at Sac State’s campus; December 2016)
Three words that describe you: Determined, Layered, and Dynamic
Tell us about your leadership journey:
My conception of leadership can be traced back during a time I spent playing sports. This is when my values of hard work, dedication, and collaboration began forming. I was not the most physically gifted athlete; however, engaging in sports taught me there is value in making an effort and having a positive and committed attitude. The catalyst of my current leadership outlook is through my work as a PARC tutor and mentor. Initially I started as a writing tutor and since then I have taken on more responsibilities and have been privileged to work and serve hundreds of students. Apart from my position, being involved in clubs and other campus programs has also contributed to my leadership journey. I have worked with the Black Student Union and on-campus programs like McNair Scholars, Martin Luther King Jr. Center, College Assistance Migrant Program, and EOP Summer Bridge Program. These experiences have impacted me significantly in the way I define success. I use to think being successful was directly related to one’s financial status or professional prestige. Now I define success based on how many people I can help. Overall my journey is an example of what can happen when someone finds something they are good at and then fully invest themselves into that something.
What motivates and/or inspires you?
My inspiration comes from helping and assisting others. Growing up I did not anticipate wanting to pursue a career rooted in service, but now the idea of service is what drives me in all aspects of my work.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is giving people opportunities to be successful and providing support when difficulties arise. The most effective steps leaders can take are those which enable and support the individuals they lead. The best part of being a leader is the ability to support people and to challenge them when they do not realize they need to be challenged. I truly believe that sometimes it is the interactions which do not seem significant in the moment that have the biggest impact on people; this is what motivates me to invest in every interaction I have. Leadership is also about working as a team. From playing sports, working at warehouses, being a student leader, to serving as a tutor, I learned that tasks become easier when every member of the team is using their full potential.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life?
One person who has had a tremendous impact on me is Dr. Tina Jordan, Director of PARC. She believes in centering students in all of her endeavors and simply gives people the tools they need to make things happen. As a result, during my time at PARC, I have had the opportunity to develop and coordinate many student-centered programs and services. Dr. Jordan is always busy because there is always someone looking to talk to her for advice or help. I have found myself emulating her actions and going out of my way to help others on my own time. While this can sometimes create extra work, I see why Dr. Jordan does it. Truly, the best part of being a leader is watching the people you help succeed.
How do you think your various life experiences have influenced your leadership journey?
My life experiences have shown that good leaders come from all walks of life. Whether you’re charismatic or reserved, everyone has their own style. The question to ask is never “can this person contribute something?” but rather “what can this person bring to the table?”. When we move ourselves away from preconceived notions we are able to get a true glimpse into a person’s true potential.
If you could give one piece of advice to new Hornets, what would it be?
Pursue what you love. College is a grind and it gets hard, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. If you are pursuing a field and a career you love, completing papers or studying for tests may become easier. College is also a choice and choosing to pursue your passions in addition to choosing to work hard will yield positive results. I encourage everyone to find a field they love. Once you find it, talk to your peers and your professors in that field and try to understand what they are doing to be successful in that field. Ultimately, connecting with people who share your passions will allow you to be involved in ways that align with your interests and open up opportunities conducive towards your goals. And it does not matter how you initially get involved, explore and find something you care about or enjoy.
(Brent Clark Jr., Aja Johnson, Kala Lee, Dr. Tina Jordan, and Damariye Smith)