Professors share stories, remember Zachary Clark

Stories gathered by Jake Loel, Commentary Editor

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Dr. Peter Hatlie, Professor of Classics and Dean, Director and Vice President of the UD Rome Program.

I got to know Zach Clark during the spring 2014 semester of the University of Dallas Rome Program.  Zach came to my office frequently over the course of his four-month semester.  In the beginning, Zach came to me for academic advice.  As our talks continued and broadened over the months, those issues were still there but we also, slowly but surely, connected as friends.  Our friendship continued as we shared correspondence right up to a few weeks before his tragic death.

This friendship was a remarkable thing in and of itself given that so many years of age and experience separated us, together with the fact it would have occurred to so few students his age these days to try to reach out and connect with people like me, whose authority normally renders them too scary or at least unapproachable for students Zach’s age.  These considerations didn’t matter to Zach, given that he had more important things to think about in life.

Zach sought me and others out because, as I came to see it, he wanted to know how to live the good life.  He felt he was on the road but wanted better signs and clearer directions as to the way ahead.  The good life — to him — was in improving himself and being recognized for his achievements, honoring his family, being good to his friends, coping bravely with his personal challenges and fulfilling his obligations of charity to the suffering and the needy.  These were noble pursuits, morally and ethically speaking.  His idea of the good life was something truly beautiful, a work of art.  It goes without saying that I came away learning more from Zach about living life well than he from me.

Let me offer one anecdote that revealed to me just how remarkable this young man was.  As he waited outside my office for my office hours to begin — he was always incredibly prompt! – I could sometimes hear Zach rehearsing with himself what he would say to me.  He was thorough in his preparation of all events, even events that others would see as a mere casual conversation.  This extra effort that he needed to put in every little thing must have cost him dearly in physical and emotional terms. Yes, he stumbled from time to time when I knew him here.  But no sooner than he suffered a setback of some kind would he rally himself to return to the person whom we all came to care for and admire.

Dr. Marisa Pérez Bernardo, Associate Professor of Modern Languages, Spanish.

I was shocked when I read the sad news about Zachary Clark. I still do not believe he is gone. I have great memories of him. I remember when he was a freshman in my Spanish 2311 class.  Zach had a lively presence in the classroom.  One example of his generosity and gratitude comes from his first year at the University of Dallas. After the semester was over, I went to my office and found a card. It was written by Zach thanking me for teaching “an amazing class”. Inside the thank you card was a very generous gift card. I was amazed by his generosity and big heart. I did not do anything special for him, but Zach Clark was always very generous and grateful. I also had him in the next class, Spanish 2312, and he showed the same cheerfulness and enthusiasm.

I always remember him at the Cap Bar studying and writing papers for Psychology and Human Sciences in the Contemporary World. He was always concerned about other people, especially his family and friends. While I was on sabbatical in Germany, he wrote to me an email asking me to pray for his brother Joshua, who was hospitalized in December of 2013. It showed his deep concern for his family. Also, he showed great perseverance in times of difficulty and was always thinking of how he could help others.

Zachary Clark touched so many lives for the good. I am grateful I had the chance to know him.

 

 

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