When Steven Clark ’18 steps onto the Denison campus this fall, he will be following the proud tradition of his peers at Urban Prep Academies, a network of all-boys public schools in Chicago whose mission is to send 100 percent of their graduates to college. Clark, who is the valedictorian of his class, will study psychology on a Posse Foundation Scholarship. Denison has partnered with the Posse Foundation since 2000, when it welcomed its first class of scholars from Chicago.
In a story on National Public Radio, the senior class president spoke about the negative portrayal of black men, particularly young black men, in the United States. “We get [the] spotlight for 100 percent of us graduating and going off to college, but that's only a small step. I feel the negativity outweighs the positive for us,” Clark says. “It’s sad, because I'm a black man and I just don’t want people to think of me as negative.”
“Steve exemplifies the type of student who will do well at Denison. He is astute and genuinely interested in social justice.”
Erik Farley, associate dean of students and director of multi-cultural student affairs and member of the Denison class of 2003, said, “Steve exemplifies the type of student who will do well at Denison. He is astute and genuinely interested in social justice. I am confident that he will make a significant contribution to our community.”
Clark’s most important influence and role model is his father, Allen Clark, who is retired and drove his youngest child to and from high school each day. “My dad has been the biggest teacher I’ve had. He’s supportive not 8 hours a day; he’s supportive 24 hours a day.”
Allen Clark’s cousin was gospel singer and civil rights activist Mahalia Jackson, who sang at the March on Washington in 1963. The civil rights icon would no doubt be proud of her young relative and his accomplishments.