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Women's History Month

Profiles in Leadership


Rev. Dr. LaCreta Michelle Clark

I am a Parent, Professor & Pastor

Professor, Educational Leadership & Services (19 years)

Pastor, St. Stephen A.M.E. Church (25 years)

In both of my professions, I am a “professor” of truths as it relates to best practices in educational leadership, and as it relates to best practices for Christian living as evidenced in the Bible.

 

 



1. What is your name and profession?

Rev. Dr. LaCreta Michelle Clark

I am a Parent, Professor & Pastor

Professor, Educational Leadership & Services (19 years)

Pastor, St. Stephen A.M.E. Church (25 years)

In both of my professions, I am a “professor” of truths as it relates to best practices in educational leadership, and as it relates to best practices for Christian living as evidenced in the Bible.

2. What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

Women’s History Month means remembering all of the women trailblazers in every sector of life who have paved the way for so many…it means remembering the great sacrifices, courage and risks that many women have endured to challenge the status quo, and rupture the norms of a male dominated society that has long failed to give women the recognition, credit, and respect that they are due.  WHM is a celebration of the diversity, beauty and ingenuity of women who change the world every single day!

3. As a woman, in what ways have you struggled to get to where you are today and how did you overcome those struggles?

I have faced the same struggles of many women of color who have had to “prove” themselves in systems that have been designed to “fail them”. From racist remarks, discriminatory practices, to glaring systemic racism that seeks to marginalize and silence strong, courageous women who defy social norms and social prescriptions that seek to place them in boxes.

I have faced each struggle BY FAITH AND COURAGE IN A LIVING GOD!! My faith in God has allowed me to speak up and demand equity in society and the workplace.  I thank my Mother and the strong and courageous women in my life who nurtured and prepared me to STAND UP AND SPEAK UP!

4. What advice do you have for young women who are aspiring to follow their dreams?

To my young Sisters, I say don’t allow society or systems to define you!!

YOU ARE MORE THAN THE TITLES YOU HOLD;

YOU ARE MORE THAN THE JOB YOU WORK;

YOU ARE MORE THAN THE LABELS THAT ARE PLACED ON YOU;

YOU ARE A WOMAN OF GOD, ENDOWED WITH UNIQUE GIFTS, SKILLS, AND PURPOSE! YOU ARE MORE THAN A CONQUEROR! YOU ARE WONDERFULLY AND FEARFULLY MADE! SO, DARE TO LIVE OUT YOUR PURPOSE; DO THE WORK; MAKE THE SACRIFICES; STUDY AND PERFECT YOUR CRAFT; PRACTICE YOUR FAITH DAILY; AND NEVER LET A “NO” STOP YOUR PROGRESS! GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU AS YOU GO BECAUSE THE WORLD NEEDS YOUR BEAUTY, GRACE, GIFTS, SKILLS, AND VOICE.  BE AUTHENTICALLY YOU…and you will never live in regret, but gratitude.

5. As a woman in your position, how have you fought for equity in the workplace and for other women?

In June 2016, I made history at Saginaw Valley State University, College of Education, as a FULL PROFESSOR (the highest academic achievement in the academy for Faculty) who happens to be African-American. While, on the surface, this seems great, the truth is that there is still so much institutional and systemic work to do in order to live up to the goal of creating a community of equity and collegiality, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and where everyone’s work is valued.

When making the choice to fight, the African Americans who had come before me came to mind, and those who will follow in my footsteps came to mind, so I fought the system by challenging the system; I was not willing to be silenced, nor was I willing to believe that my scholarship, teaching and service did not matter…it did matter and I have over a thousand educational leaders in the Great Lakes Bay Region who can attest to my value and expertise…SO I FOUGHT AND I WON! And I see this win for everyone!

6. Who was your role model and how did they change your life?

My life has been richly blessed with an array of diverse women leaders and thinkers and I am sure that each of their contributions to my growth and maturity made a difference in my life; however, my greatest role model has always been and still is my Mother.  My Mother was orphaned due to her mother dying after having her.  Her father passed for white and left four children to be orphans. Despite the harshest of upbringings, she was determined to succeed. As a young girl of the eighties, I watched my Mom go to College and graduate with Honors, while raising five (5) children, and taking care of a busy home.  My father would pile all five of us in the Caprice Estate station wagon to take Mom to school two nights a week, and we would have dinner on the campus grounds and visit the library while we waited on her.  My Mom was the only African American to graduate with honors from the University, and when I saw her cross that stage (I was 13 years old at the time), I knew then, that I would reach the highest academic honors just like my Mom, and I knew that I had no excuses or options for failure. In her yearbook (at 16 years old) she said, “Will be a Social Worker”, and she was a great Social Worker for 32 years!

She is my SHE-roe!

7. If you could have dinner with any woman figure dead or alive who would you choose and why?  

If I could have dinner with any woman figure, I would want to sit down with Jarena Lee, the first licensed woman preacher in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (she was posthumously ordained in 2016 at the General Conference in Philadelphia).  As an ordained itinerant elder in the Methodist church, I stand on her shoulders, and I would just love to talk to her about the days she preached in Detroit and Canada to big diverse crowds that were sometimes hostile toward her for being a woman preacher (that sentiment is still alive today by many who reject women preachers), yet, by the time she finished preaching, they were asking her to come back, both black and white, alike.

8. What is your hope for the next generation of women and girls?

This is my hope for the next generation;

I pray that you will know the power of your existence, and the Creator who placed a purpose in you to live out in this life.

I pray that you will value every part of your educational journey, for it is the foundation on which you will build your life.

I pray that you will not allow labels and social norms to define you!

I pray that you will face each failure and challenge in life with courage, faith and grace; the courage to learn what is needful; the faith to keep moving forward; and, the grace to grow into the woman that our Creator fashioned you to be! 

I pray that you will know love, experience joy, cross-boundaries, step out of the box for once in a lifetime experiences, and always look back while moving forward, so that you can bring others with you as you grow, go and glow!