Clare Novak '76
I remember receiving boxes of college brochures during my junior year of high school and had grand ideas of attending schools in tropical climates or big cities. When it came time to fill out the applications, I only sent one. I knew Clarion was really the right fit for me. It was close enough to home for mom and dad to drop by for dinner, but still far enough away to assert my independence. One of my best friends would be my roommate, and best of all I could carry on a family tradition. My mom (Emma Allison Miller) was a 1964 graduate who had always shared her love for Clarion with me - recounting stories of living in Becht Hall, dressing for family-style dinners, and how the students had worked together on a campaign to spend only silver dollars in the community to show the impact the students had on the local economy.
Clarion was for me, like most students, my first experience away from home. However, the Clarion Speech team, under the coaching of Jane Elms, also gave me my first experiences of being on the road. I loved traveling and those first experiences set the tone of my unexpected career path. Since the Clarion days, I’ve worked in Canada, Egypt, Kuwait, Pakistan and Ukraine, as well as visiting or working in 45 of the United States.
As a member of the Clarion Speech team, I learned invaluable skills. The obvious skills are confident public speaking, the ability to read, analyze and structure persuasive messages and professional demeanor. Less obvious and equally valuable were some Jane lessons in professionalism. First, the standards were the standards. When Jane said that each team member had to be qualified in five events to go to the Nationals in California, there were no exceptions. My first sight of the Pacific Ocean was worth the hard work of qualifying in Extemporaneous Speaking.
On our first van trip to a Pennsylvania competition, Jane announced that each person could take one and only one suitcase. I was glad I took her seriously as the next morning some of the women frantically repacked in the parking lot and cramming everything into one suitcase. Packing light is a fantastic skill for international travel. My personal motto became, “if you can’t carry it, don’t bring it.”
While my degree is in Secondary Education, I went on to complete a Master’s Degree and PhD studies to teach on the college level. My educational experiences converged to give me the skills to start my own business as a consultant focusing on leadership development. The business network provided the incredible opportunities to work internationally. Most recently, I lived in Pakistan for two years and worked on a USAID project with the electrical distribution utilities. My work there was in human resources and training. Our training of trainers initiative certainly drew on what I learned while studying education.
Now back in the US, my work focuses on executive and team coaching. In addition, I’ve spoken for numerous conferences, including international, published two books and contributed chapters to two other.
As my friends tell me, I’m absolutely:
Courageous. Confident. Clarion.