In May 2010, Campbell Lake in Jackson overflowed and flooded Will Clark's family home during his senior year of high school. Clark and his parents were asleep as the water began to rise inside the house. Clark awoke to his father's voice calling for him to leave the house. In a rush, the Clark family gathered, picked up their two cats, and swam to higher ground.
Once they made it through the water, they realized that their neighbor was still at home. They swam back out into the flood and helped their neighbor and her dog to safety. The Clark family and their next door neighbor are members of Lambuth Memorial United Methodist Church in Jackson, and as soon as they received word of the flood's damage, the church moved its Sunday service to the Clark home, where they helped recover whatever undamaged possessions they could find. Clark said that approximately 90 percent of their belongings were lost in the flood and that their home would require extensive repair.
The summer before Clark moved to Martin, his family began the reconstruction of their house. He spent the first semester of his freshman year driving back and forth to Jackson to help his family rebuild their home.
Clark said of his realization the day after the flood, "Now, whenever I see pictures of Katrina, I'm like, "Those people couldn't go [home] the next day." We went in the next day. So, we saved some stuff. They couldn't. That's one of the things I know attracted me to the Chaplain Corps because if I'm ever deployed for disaster relief, I know what these people are going through. That's the best part of the job. It's taking care of people."
"My grandfather served in WWII. He was a tail gunner on a B-24 and a B-17. He was part of the reason why I wanted to do the military," Clark said.
Clark decided to follow the path toward becoming an army chaplain thanks to the influence of his church's youth director. "When I was in middle school and high school, I had a good youth director for a good four years of my time in youth." He continued, "He pulled out of me the desire to serve and see a church that is active instead of just sitting on its hands. The call to ministry just comes out of that and it's something I felt good about."
In order to become a chaplain, Clark signed up for ROTC at UT Martin his freshman year and enlisted in the Tennessee Army National Guard after his first semester. Now a senior, Clark has completed his Advanced Individual Training as a chaplain assistant, an enlisted soldier in the Chaplain Corps.
This summer, Clark completed the Leadership Development and Assessment Course and is set to commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. Clark feels that his time in ROTC has driven him to be a better person and greatly enhanced his leadership skills.
While at UT Martin, Clark has also been actively involved with the former Interfaith Student Center and new Wesley Foundation while also attending Martin First United Methodist Church.
Office of University Relations is the official source for all non-sports releases from the University of Tennessee at Martin. Materials on this page are updated on a regular basis.
The Office of University Relations is ready to assist you with finding a speaker for your special event or an expert to comment on a current news story.
See photos from Commencement, Greek Events, and more on Flickr.