Dallas Can Academy Pleasant Grove Campus, 2012 valedictorian, LaDarius Clark recently graduated from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. During the four years Clark attended Dallas Can Academy he found several staff members who guided him through the teenage angst of high school that was magnified by financial obstacles at home. Against many odds, Clark earned his college degree in the next four years at an East Texas college that Dallas Can encouraged him to apply to and then helped him find a way to finance tuition and room and board.
As the first college graduate in his family, Clark now plans to pursue a career in human resource management. He would like to work in industry for one to two years, and then return to college to pursue a master’s degree in human resource management.
Clark enrolled in classes at Dallas Can Academy when his family was forced to relocate due to financial hardships. The Pleasant Grove campus was a block away from the house they moved into. Clark also found a home with his new school. Because the school was so close to where he lived, he could walk to school. That saved his grandparents money from the high cost of gasoline and allowed them to spend more on groceries, school supplies and other household items. Clark also met his mentor and basketball coach, Elmer McKenzie, at his new school.
“When I was on the basketball team at Dallas Can, our coaches served as teachers, mentors and friends and they took the initiative to raise 12 boys into the gentlemen we are today,” said Clark. “Dallas Can Pleasant Grove is full of love and inspiration. Even though I am a graduate of Wiley College, they are still my primary source of support.”
The Dallas Can Academy Pleasant Grove campus continues to support several of their graduates who are now in college. The principal, Mene Khepera, and staff of the school remain in contact with approximately 70 former students on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis. Each semester, the principal and other staff members drive to East Texas to visit and give supplies to their students at three different colleges they are attending.
“When I first met LaDarius in 2008 I planted the seed for him to attend college after graduation. Remarkably he decided to apply and enroll with my alma mater and he is now an alumnus of Wiley College,” said Elmer McKenzie, Dallas Can Academy Special Education Aide and Basketball Coach. “Once our kids, always our kids - no matter where they go. It isn’t any different now that he’s a college graduate, he will always be one of ours.”