The Twin Cities Community Pays Tribute to a Champion of Higher Education
The Twin
The Twin Cities Community Pays Tribute to a Champion of Higher Education

A community advocate receives recognition for her efforts in connecting underserved youth with opportunities for higher education. With the ceremonial cutting of a ribbon, the Harding High School Auditorium was officially renamed as the JoAnn Clark Auditorium on Saturday morning.

Reflecting on the event, Clark expressed her surprise at the overwhelming turnout. The renaming ceremony honors Clark’s significant contributions, which began over 20 years ago with the establishment of the Thinking Career and College Early Fair within a church setting.

Clark’s initiatives have positively impacted over 1,000 students, providing them with guidance and resources to focus on their futures. Her efforts include organizing tours of Historically Black Campuses and Universities, resulting in 80% of participating students furthering their education at the higher level.

Throughout her 35 years of service, Clark has been instrumental in raising over $1 million to ensure that students can afford college tours.

“What sets my tour apart is that even if students have a GPA below 2.0, I am willing to take them, even if it’s as low as 1.5,” Clark emphasized.

Notably, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were prominently featured at Saturday’s job fair. Juniors Judah Johnson Nixon and Raphael Johnson Nixon from Benilde-St. Margaret’s were among those exploring their options at Harding. The twins shared their appreciation for the unique, familial atmosphere offered by HBCUs compared to their predominantly white private school.

“FAMU and Hampton University are among the ones I’m considering,” mentioned Judah Johnson Nixon. “I’m interested in their science department.”

Raphael Johnson Nixon added, “From the outset, HBCUs provided the only opportunity for our community to pursue higher education. I believe they’ve helped countless individuals navigate a world that often treats them unfairly or differently, providing networking opportunities that may not be available elsewhere.”

For Clark, the focus lies in bridging educational inequalities and extending opportunities to those who might not typically have access to them.

“These children’s lives have been transformed, and they may now be your doctor or lawyer. You may just not be aware of it,” Clark remarked.

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