Northwestern College will award degrees to 302 students during its annual commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 11. Seventy-eight students will receive Master of Education degrees; 192, Bachelor of Arts degrees; and 32, Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees.
Commencement will begin at 10 a.m. in the Rowenhorst Student Center. Rick Clark, an instructor of Spanish who is retiring from Northwestern this year, will give the commencement address. The baccalaureate service will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 10, in Christ Chapel. Mark DeYounge, dean of Christian formation, will deliver the homily.
Clark is a two-time recipient of Northwestern’s Teaching Excellence Award whose passion for the Spanish language and Hispanic people is contagious. Raised in Ecuador, he assumed he would be a missionary like his parents and four grandparents, but in college he fell in love with teaching and realized schools are a mission field as well.
Clark taught high school Spanish and English for 22 years before joining Northwestern’s faculty in 1997. At Northwestern, he regularly taught study abroad courses in Ecuador and led college mission trips to Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua and the Netherlands.
Clark was equally influential outside the classroom as a high school and college basketball coach. He spent thousands of hours using a sport he loved to invest in the lives of young men. As an assistant men’s basketball coach for Northwestern, he was part of 14 teams that advanced to the NAIA national tournament, including two that were national champions.
A graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, Clark earned a master’s degree in Spanish literature from the University of Northern Iowa. He is a member of Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, where he was a youth director prior to joining Northwestern’s faculty. He has also served as an elder for Trinity and as part of the church’s Leadership Team.