In July 2020, Clark received a $40,000 Pacific Rim Foundation Dick Close Scholarship. The award was established to assist a graduating Ucluelet Secondary School student who is invested in making the world a better place through service to others.
The recognition stems from her extensive commitment to the community, including volunteering for Go By Bike Week, Ukee Days celebrations, the Edge-to-Edge Marathon races, and leading the West Coast Elders Technology Group, a community volunteer initiative to help seniors with technology.
Clark has a long family history on the West Coast. Her family’s history motivates her to keep learning and succeeding as Clark recognizes she has had opportunities which have not been available to her family members. Her father, Calvin Clark, is a member of the Ahousaht First Nation, and her mother, Kim Clark, is Japanese-Canadian.
“From my personal experience, it is a great privilege to have rights and freedoms, as well as access to proper education and not have to deal with overt racism. Both sides of my family worked very hard to overcome so much. I am very aware of what my life would have been like only 70-to-80 years ago and how hard my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents had to work to allow me the opportunities that I have,” Clark explained.
Clark began taking courses at NIC while she was still in high school through the dual credit program. After high school graduation she planned to transfer to university to continue her studies, but then the pandemic began.
“Once COVID hit, it didn’t seem reasonable to move to the city and do all my studies at a larger institution when I could do the same courses online with NIC and save money by staying at home. I also was definitely inclined to take courses with smaller class sizes, so NIC was a good fit,” explained Clark.
Even with her previous experience at NIC in the dual credit program, the 2020/21 academic year was a challenge.
“I actually had a really rough first term. It was an especially difficult time, with the pandemic requiring online learning. I struggled with my mental health, which impacted my grades and made it difficult for me to finish my assignments on time. I decided to share about my health situation with my instructors, the Department of Accessible Learning and the Board from the Pacific Rim Foundation. They were all very accommodating and encouraged me to take care of my mental health,” Clark said.
“By my second term I felt like I had adjusted more to learning online. It was a huge help to work with the Department of Accessible Learning who helped me navigate course accommodations and handle an overwhelming time. Indigenous navigators and the student life team at NIC also regularly emailed me with new opportunities which really helped me feel connected. I feel like there’s a lot available for students at NIC.”
Now at Camosun College, Clark worries for other students who might be hesitant to reach out for support.
“Anyone who is struggling with school or mental health issues, I encourage you to be transparent with people because then there are more opportunities for understanding. Reach out to instructors, the Department of Accessible Learning and counsellors, because the college has those resources available for all students for a reason.”
Clark is proud of her achievements and overcoming the difficulties of her first year. While she has been recognized for her support of her community, she says it is two-way street.
“I have had a lot of family, friends, teachers, school staff, employers, and community members who have supported me. I’m very grateful for them and their influence,” said Clark.
October is Thrive Month at NIC. Learn more about mental health and well-being resources at NIC, visit www.nic.bc.ca/thrive.