Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Slain reservist’s son on track to success

Kerry Clark

    On a rainy Friday, Kerry Clark rode his bike to the Donut Parade in north Spokane. He rarely drives. Too expensive.
     Clark has four roommates. He survives on financial aid and military benefits. The financial aid is through Washington State University, where he’s an online student.
      "I view studying as a job,” he said. “Just like any job, I want to do well at it.” Clark couldn’t do any better. He has a 4.0 grade point average and made the president’s honor roll.
      The military benefits came after his mother, a Navy reservist, was killed in 2005 near Fallujah, Iraq.
      Petty Officer 1st Class Regina Clark of Centralia was a mess hall cook in her first two deployments. In her third, she did checkpoint searches. A suicide bomber attacked her convoy. Regina Clark, a single mom, was the first Washington state woman killed in the Iraq war. Her son was 18.
      “The day I no longer had a parental guardian was the day I really started paying attention,” said Clark, 25. “I had to be responsible for absolutely everything in my own life. That makes you aware of how to win – and how to lose.” More...      One way to lose is to be stuck in an unchallenging job. When Clark worked at a lumber mill, he said, “I felt restricted, like any abilities I might have couldn’t come to the forefront because I didn’t have the necessary education.”
      Clark earned his associate’s degree at Centralia College, moved to Spokane with a couple friends, and enrolled in WSU Online.
      “People assume online courses are more work,” he said. “For me, it’s more work to have to wake up at 8 a.m. every day to get to class than to roll out of bed and start doing schoolwork.”
      Clark is majoring in humanities with a minor in history. He expects to graduate in December, then earn a graduate degree in history.
      “When I see Ph.D.’s now, I think they’re a hundred times smarter than I am. But they had to get there somehow,” he said. “I won’t stop studying until someone gives me an F – and that isn’t going to happen.”
      Clark is also motivated by the people of Centralia. At Fuller’s Market, where his mother used to work, employees still wear buttons with her photo.
      "They seem to miss her as much as I do,” he said. “You can see the difference she made. Hopefully I can do something like that in my own life.”

By Richard H. Miller/WSU Online


  1. Kerry, with this type of gritty determination, you could go all the way to a PhD and beyond. Remember, those PhDs were once undergrads trying to finance an education too. The sky's the limit and you've come this far-- now finish the race and change the world!

  2. You're an inspiration, Kerry. Good on you.

  3. Nice blog entry. Hope Kerry's doing well.