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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Danielle Clark

01/06/2021

Dr. Danielle J. Clark has taught at the Hillsborough Community College Dale Mabry Campus as a full-time, tenure-tracked business professor since fall 2019. 

 

More recently, she has pioneered the Let's Get 2 Work workshop series at HCC. 

 

Dr. Clark had an unconventional upbringing that she touched on in her July 2020 online article published on Medium's The Faculty Publicationwhere she described her younger self as a “sarcastic tomboy from the Route 1 trailer park” who was kicked out of middle school.  

 

Despite eventually getting her GED, she didn’t believe she was smart enough to go to college. 

 

At the age of 19, she began working as a third shift dispatcher for a large medical alert company.

 

“I soaked the experience up like a sponge,” she says. “Especially the interpersonal side of business: communicating with others, motivating employees, fostering teamwork and collaboration. I was good at it too. It made me realize that if someone like me could excel in a business environment, then anybody could.”

 

After some convincing from a friend, at 21 years of age and with a husband and 6-month-old baby at home, Dr. Clark enrolled in her first undergraduate class at Becker College. “I found myself raising my hand in the first half hour of class; it was that first time back in a classroom that gave me the confidence to show up again and again. The conversations were stimulating, and my professor created an inclusive culture. Because she asked real-world questions and kept things fun, I could contribute. It was a life-changer to realize that my lack of formal academic success up to that point didn’t matter.” 

 

In 2019, Dr. Clark graduated from the University of South Florida with her doctorate degree in Business Administration. 

 

“Between my undergrad, two master’s degrees and my doctorate degree, I think I’ve studied business formally, in an academic setting, for 11 or 12 years now. Once I got the ‘learning bug,’ all I wanted to do was read, study and go to class. I deeply believe in the potential of college and business; it can unlock so many avenues regardless of what your strengths and passions are.” 

 

After graduating with her doctorate and receiving multiple job offers, Dr. Clark states she accepted the position at HCC because “It felt more real to me. The professors focused more on teaching rather than research and behind-the-scenes contributions. There didn’t seem to be ego, but rather collaboration and a primary focus on the students. 

 

Although I have a traditional academic background, I’m a very real person. I like to show up in jeans, I like cracking jokes and I felt like I would be welcomed at HCC. I don’t know if I could say that about every academic institution. Fortunately, I was right about HCC. There’s a cool, calm vibe here that makes me feel like I can be the truest version of myself.” 

 

Dr. Clark speaks on HCC as an institution with “a perfect balance of structure and freedom. I’m someone who appreciates organization, policy and procedure. HCC provides a lot of support and resources while giving us academic freedom so we can be the best educators we can be, while at the same time providing structure so we don’t feel lost.”

 

For the last 15 years, Dr. Clark has had a strong career focus in professional development. 

 

In fall 2020, HCC launched the six-week Let's Get 2 Work virtual workshop series, a free job skills training program in partnership with Verizon.

 

At the forefront of the program’s development was Dr. Clark. 

 

She says, “To have Verizon’s financial, professional and community support speaks volumes to the program. Students can expect to be trained with the key soft skills that employers are looking for. This program has a reasonable time commitment and is a work-at-your-own-pace way to get exposed to new perspectives on leadership, critical thinking and career readiness. The goal is to prepare students to get a job and prepare them for promotions and transitions by giving them the introspection and skills to succeed in all aspects of their life.” 

 

When she accepted the position at HCC, Dr. Clark knew she wanted to help drive soft skills focus further but didn’t know this opportunity to create the workshop series would present itself. She says, “I’m extraordinarily happy and proud this opportunity came my way. I wouldn’t be where I am today without influential mentors and soft skills training, so I’m glad to be giving back.”

 

The program will have multiple offerings through the fall of 2022 and is open to all current and prospective HCC students, regardless of degree program, as well as HCC employees and community members. Those wishing to inquire about the program can contact Leerone Benjamin at lbenjamin7@hccfl.edu or visit the workshop homepage here

 

When you enroll in one of Dr. Clark’s business classes, you can expect to know her more than just your professor. She’s a mentor, a mom and a friend. She brings a level of personability that allows her students to see her as the real person she is outside of the classroom. 

 

“I’m drawn to people and getting to know them. I’ve always had a strength about helping others unblock limiting beliefs, find their motivation and build their confidence. Frankly, although I love teaching business, I’m not sure that is where I get my spark from. Rather I’m energized by helping others see their true selves. 

 

I approach students with care, curiosity and openness. This allows students to open up and show me who they really are; that is how I help them remove fears and unlock their strengths. Growing up, I struggled with not feeling good enough or not feeling smart enough. Fast-forward to where I am in my life now, and I try to be the role model who helps students feel better about themselves and find a sense of belonging.”

 

As a tenure-track professor, Dr. Clark says, “The students are why I’m here. The students HCC attracts all have amazing stories. Stories of grit, adversity and hope for a better future. Many come with a wealth of real-world experience, are veterans, first-generation or new to the country, and it’s inspiring to learn just as much from them as they learn from me.”

 

To connect with Dr. Clark, you can follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook or email her at dclark83@hccfl.edu.

 

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