College can be a difficult time for students; the process of discovering who you are and what you want to become is an onerous task.

232757 Theresa Clarke Portraits-1015Fortunately, James Madison University is known for its professors being solicitous about the success of their students. JMU has an abundance of teachers that engage with students and play integral roles in their students’ development. Dr. Theresa Clarke (or Dr. C as she is affectionately known) has been this teacher for me.

Dr. C acts as a mentor for me. She has been an advisor on four projects and a professor in two of my classes. I invariably end up in her office hours at least twice a week to go over class projects, outside interest projects, and life in general. Her guidance has not only helped me win multiple awards (with a couple potential victories pending), but she also helped me uncover new goals and discover the man I hope to become.

My first class with Dr. C was MKTG 384, Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) my junior year. I battled my way through COB 300 the previous semester and was compelled to find my calling in the field of marketing. I had no idea this class would ignite the passion that I had searched for to no avail in the previous 20 years of my life.

IMC quickly became my favorite class. I loved using hard data and creative thinking to create a unique advertising campaign for a client. I spent many hours in Dr. C’s office soaking in as much knowledge as I could retain. She was liberal with her office hours, always making time to meet with our team regardless of her scheduled time slots. Her dedication guided my growth in a field that I was becoming increasingly captivated by.

I found what I was looking for: my desire to pursue a career in advertising. With this in mind, I landed my first advertising internship. I developed my skills over the summer, realizing that I did want to work for an ad agency.

I remained in contact with Dr. C throughout the next year. She approached me with two different marketing competitions during my senior year. She served as my faculty advisor for my team in a challenge for WWF’s Earth Hour, and again as I participated in a contest to create a campaign for Target. Although these competitions were not for course credit, Dr. C always kept her door, phone and email open to me.

I recently completed an Internet Marketing Practicum class with Dr. C in which students compete in the Google Online Marketing Challenge. Dr. C helped me gain a more in depth understanding of AdWords and digital marketing in general. Representatives from digital marketing agencies visited our class nearly every week, critiquing our campaigns and furthering our knowledge.This also led to me accepting a job offer with one of the agencies.

Dr. C took a vested interest in my accomplishments at James Madison. She taught me more about marketing and life than I ever thought possible. She helped find my passion and mentored me to succeed.

She did not have to field my frantic phone calls late at night as I made project corrections. She did not need to open her office doors to me during my near mental breakdowns my final semester. She did not need to guide me through my job search. Dr. C did not need to do a lot of things, but she did them anyway.

I have seen Dr. C’s Google Calendar. In a given week, she is lucky to have 15 minutes of downtime before 10:00 at night. When I was working on a plan for my last competition, her husband, also a marketing professor at JMU, joked that I spent more time with her than he did.

Dr. C’s selflessness made an undeniable impact on not only my career, but also in my personal endeavors. Her passion and intensity in pushing me to perform my best changed my life in a way I did not know was possible.

She is always there to encourage me when I’m down and point out flaws to help me improve when I get a little too cocky.

I will be forever grateful to Dr. Clarke for all she has done. She is the epitome of a marketing professor. Not only is she the best teacher I know, but she has acted as a mentor, colleague, and a friend since I enrolled in MKTG 384 two years ago.

When I walk across the stage at graduation, I will look to Dr. C for her encouraging smile that has motivated me countless times over the past two years.



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