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Monday, March 8, 2021

Service Before Self

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Dianne Clark’s passion for education, community

Growing up surrounded by a family of educators, it made sense to most that education would be the foundation of Dianne Clark’s career.

Except it didn’t make sense to Clark. “Not at all,” Clark said. “I didn’t have any idea that I would go into education. I had actually interviewed with Xerox and a couple of other companies. I really wanted to move and do the big corporate world thing in marketing – my undergraduate degree is in marketing. I met my husband-to-be, who was here entrenched in farming. There was no way he could move, so my plans changed.”

A Haughton High School, Northeast Louisiana University (now the University of Louisiana-Monroe), and LSUS graduate, Clark wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after getting her master’s degree in business administration.

Then mamma – who started the nursing program at Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College – came a-callin’.

“She said there was a business instructor’s position coming open at the college in Minden, and I want you to apply,” Clark said. “I only applied to make her happy. It turned out, they offered me the job, and 30 years later, I was retiring after serving in a multitude of positions.”

During those 30 years, Clark developed a passion for education. No matter if she was in the classroom or administration, she grew to appreciate – and respect – her students’ desire to learn.

“I was working with adults, and I can tell you that what I found out so quickly is that technical education is at least as valuable – if not more valuable – than a four-year college degree because we need skilled laborers,” Clark said. “There were students that were in my class that could have worked circles around me in college. But because of their different preferences for learning style, they chose to do the hands-on technical training versus the book – studying, reading books and writing essays. It’s just a difference in your learning styles and what interests you. There was no difference in an intelligence factor between college and technical college, I can tell you that for sure.”

While Clark was the campus dean for the college’s Mansfield location, she decided to join the local Rotary Club. When she retired and moved to Shreveport to become executive director of Sci-Port Discovery Center, Clark joined the Rotary Club of Shreveport. In less than 10 years as a Rotarian, Clark has developed a fondness for the organization – and her fellow members.

“To me, it’s all about networking and getting involved with people who truly care about improving their communities,” Clark explained. “The people who are involved in Rotary are the people who are actually the ones out there making things happen. They are the ones who are involved in positive change. The motto of Rotary is ‘Service Above Self.’ That’s been my motto for a very long time. It’s about serving others.”

And Clark has made an impression upon her Rotary colleagues.

“Dianne Clark demonstrates passionate and servant leadership,” said fellow Rotarian Laurie Boswell. “Her professionalism, organizational skills and energy translate into amazing service to Sci-Port, The Rotary Club of Shreveport and to our community. Dianne works hard – always with a beautiful smile that shows her caring spirit. Dianne serves Rotary with this same commitment to excellence.”

Approaching her third year with Sci- Port, Clark applies her – and the Rotary’s – motto to her workplace.

“My goal is for Sci-Port to become a community anchor and to be a resource for the members of our community,” Clark said. “Really, right now, our focus is on meeting the needs of the underserved populations.

If we want to build a strong workforce for Shreveport and truly contribute to the economy, we have to start early, and we have to reach everyone. We have to make sure that everyone has equal opportunity to access the educational programing that is available.”

There’s that word again. Education. And to think Clark wanted to work for a copy machine company – all those many years ago.

ON STANDS NOW!

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