Emerge launched the first Speaker Series for the 2018-2019 school year with special guest Bryan Terrell Clark, who shared a lesson about passion and purpose with the audience.
Clark is an actor who is currently on Broadway playing George Washington in "Hamilton." He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and from the beginning of his life has had a passion for acting.
Clark mentioned his parents were two of the greatest influences on his life. He said his mother held high standards for him but also had a huge heart and strove to empower students.
“My mom could creatively look at a problem and find a solution,” Clark said. “She inspired me just by being who she was."
Though his father was different compared to his mother, Clark still learned valuable life skills from him. For a long time, Clark’s father was a drug dealer and ended up at rehab about 22 times, but he was also a good man who valued human relationships.
“It blew my mind that he kept going," Clark said. "To continue the process for years, he really wanted help. He really wanted to change.”
Clark formed his ideas of passion and purpose from both of his parents, which is what he focused on with the Emerge students. He began his story with when he was in college.
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Clark started college at the University of Maryland as a theater major. He realized early on that school wasn’t for him, so he eventually transferred to Temple University, and from there, he went to the Yale School of Drama. He described the journey as tedious but rewarding in the end.
“I was told I couldn’t do this, and here I am,” Clark said.
Over the summers, Clark did a variety of things, including going to Philadelphia and working with lower-class students who had an interest in the arts.
“I would watch young minds change through the power of art and thought, 'Wow, this is it. I love this; this is my purpose,” Clark said.
As he further discussed the idea of purpose, Clark revealed that being a teacher actually wasn’t his purpose and the definition of purpose may not actually be what most people think it is.
“Life is the road," Clark said. "Passion is the GPS. Talent is the vehicle or skill. And purpose is something you have to define for yourself. I call purpose today your reason why. Why do you do what you do?"
Clark discovered that his purpose, he believed, was to reconcile people to themselves, to each other and to higher purposes. He talked about how this was important because he’s had experiences with friends who could’ve stepped into their purpose but were too scared in the moment.
“Often times, if adults are honest with you, they settled in life because instead of following their passion, they did what they thought was safe and responsible, and life got in the way," Clark said. "At the end of the day, if you follow your passion, it will lead you to your purpose."
Before he concluded his speech, Clark left the audience with three points to remember: find a way everyday to make yourself happy, to be grateful and to never give up.
“As long as you have breath in your body, you have another day to get it right,” Clark said.
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