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Evangel graduates find success and give back to their alma mater

February 6, 2014 | Irene Kanthan

Michael and Michele (Rossi) Clark came a long way from the East Coast to study at Evangel University, but little did they know the opportunities that awaited them in the Midwest would touch their lives in significant ways.

Springfield, Missouri, did not only become a launching pad for their careers, but it is also a place they’ve called home with their two kids, Zachary, 9, and Nathan, 5. With all the successes the Clarks have had, there’s one thing that still remains – their love for Evangel.

The science behind Michael’s success

Michael graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and started as a food microbiologist with Chestnut Labs, a division of Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.

“I was blessed to have been able to find a job in my field here in Springfield,” he says.

During his 13 years at Chestnut Labs, Michael moved up the ranks and eventually became the director of business development.

A key career decision was made when he returned to Evangel to pursue a Master of Organizational Leadership (MOL).

“I decided Evangel’s program was the one for me with its focus on leadership, management and quality,” Mike says.

His next major move came in 2012 when Michael became the marketing development manager at Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc.

“With my new role, I am able to travel domestically and internationally to increase market share and brand awareness, develop product launches, explore new markets and oversee strategic positioning,” he says.

He also became an instructor in Evangel’s MOL hybrid program.

“I love Evangel and everything it stands for, and I want to give back,” he says. “Now, my wife and I have the opportunity to help shape the lives of students today.”

Michele’s dream comes to life

For Michele, the idea of becoming a teacher and shaping lives was one she had since elementary school.

“My fourth grade teacher made such a positive impact on my life,” she says, “but Evangel was the place where I accomplished my dream.”

She graduated with her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Elementary Education from Evangel, and has been teaching in the same first grade classroom at Horace Mann Elementary for 14 years.

“I love teaching first grade,” she says. “It is such a big year for reading and writing, and I love seeing the growth and accomplishments the kids make from August to May.”

Michele’s desire to make a positive difference was also influenced by her Evangel professors.

“I wasn’t just an ID number,” she says. “My professors knew me, and I loved that they really cared and wanted me to succeed.”

Giving back, Evangel style

While at Evangel, the Clarks met Dan (’76) and Sherry Clopine. Sherry is the executive administrative assistant in Evangel’s Institutional Advancement office.

Through Evangel’s Adopt-a-Student program, the Clopines have opened their home and provided students – including the Clarks – with home-cooked meals and loving company for the past three decades.

“The Clopines are truly the most generous, loving people I know,” she says. “Because of their influence on our lives, I want to do the same for current students at Evangel.”

With the Clopines as role models, the Clarks now participate in the program. They host 10 or more students most Sunday nights for dinner in their own home.

“We never thought we would stay and build our lives and family here in Springfield,” she says. “However, we both have secure jobs in fields that we love.”

The Clarks also involve their sons in showing their support for Evangel. Be it a football or basketball game, you’ll see them in the stands as a family.

“The university shaped us into the people we are today,” he says. “Michele and I love Evangel University, and we are thankful that God brought us here.”