"That's my elephant," says Dr. Rebecca Clark, proudly gesturing to a photo of an admittedly handsome animal framed and hanging on her office wall.
She was traveling with Averett students and other faculty members in East Africa at the time, studying aspects of several disciplines — including learning firsthand about the culture of a Maasai tribe — and the jaw-dropping memories still make her smile … especially that one elephant that almost got a little too close. In fact, she's returning in a few months, taking other students on a similar trip.
"Last time we flew to London and then to Nairobi; this time we're going first to Amsterdam and then heading straight to Mt. Kilimanjaro." You can tell from her obvious delight that she can't wait to get back. The students who are going are likely visiting East Africa for the first time, but Clark already knows how wonderful it is, knows how the learning can take place.
"Teaching is what I enjoy most," she says, "and that includes our activities both inside and outside the classroom." Athletics joins travel as part of the outside-the-classroom activities Clark is involved with. "Every year at Christmastime I feed the basketball teams at my house. We have the men one day, the women another. Thank heavens my colleagues help me manage those meals."
Clark was the university's cheerleading director for 11 years ("I have gray hairs named after cheerleaders," she laughs.), and currently she is helping to establish a mentor program to integrate academics and athletics. "We want to have a faculty member identified with every athletic team," she explains. "It will let athletes see faculty in a different light, and it can help faculty understand more of the athletes' time-management challenges."
She keeps in touch with Averett graduates, athletes and non-athletes, primarily through social media. "Most of my friends on Facebook are former students," she says, "even the cheerleaders I have gray hairs named after."
Odds are her photos section features at least one shot of her elephant.
Doctor of Philosophy, sociology, Arizona State University
30+ years teaching
Women's Gender Issues, Sociology of Sport, Marriage and Family, Minorities
Popular Culture Association in the South