College graduate: Patience, prayer make a difference

| May 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
Emily Clark, right, with friends Tati Rodriguez, left, and Kate Hawley at a University of Oklahoma football game at Gaylord Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Sept. 16, 2016.

Emily Clark, right, with friends Tati Rodriguez, left, and Kate Hawley at a University of Oklahoma football game at Gaylord Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Sept. 16, 2016. COURTESY EMILY CLARK

Listen to your heart, pray, be patient and have faith.

That advice to high school graduates comes from a 2019 graduate of the University of Oklahoma who switched majors from nursing to human relations — but only after much soul-searching, many conversations and placing her doubts into the Lord’s hands.

Emily Clark, who grew up attending St. Ambrose in Woodbury, said her decision also brought her closer to Christ, and it allows her to live out her faith in a special way. She began work in February, even before her May 11 graduation, as the coordinator of youth and young adult evangelization at Holy Spirit parish in Mustang, Oklahoma, about 30 miles from the university campus in Norman, Oklahoma.

But her journey was not straight and smooth, Clark said. She knows she could have lived out her faith as a nurse. But she noticed something about herself, and she payed attention. She was spending a lot of time in Bible study and other activities at St. Thomas More University Parish and Student Center on the university campus — and less time on her nursing studies.

“This is where my passions are right now,” Clark recalled thinking at the end of her sophomore year. “I don’t want to be studying anatomy. I want to be in Bible study or doing something at the church.”

Making the university parish a big part of her life wasn’t a straight shot, either, Clark said. As Tim and Heather Clark’s only child, she grew up in a faith-filled home, and she attended St. Ambrose of Woodbury Catholic School. She was surrounded by other Catholics, but she didn’t think a lot about what she believed and didn’t make the faith her own.

“I always participated in my faith growing up, but I don’t think I really appreciated it until I got to OU,” she said.

When she arrived on campus, she knew she wanted to make friends, but she didn’t know how that would happen. Using Facebook, she found a fellow freshman as a roommate. The only other thing she and Kate Hawley had in common was being Catholic.

Hawley knew she wanted to be part of the university parish, and she encouraged Clark to join her. Together, they signed up for a Bible study led by then-junior Tati Rodriguez.

“Kate opened the door and Tati walked me through it,” Clark said. “They’ve been my biggest supporters. They are two of my best friends.”

Rodriguez taught her to pray, and both women kept her true to that discipline, Clark said. Rodriguez had switched to human relations as a major after first being interested in business. She liked the change and shared her story with Clark as her friend expressed doubts about nursing. Clark also talked with her parents, Hawley and others, and she prayed.

“It was a long process of prayer, of weighing the pros and cons, kind of figuring out what my fears were, and allowing Jesus to come into those fears,” she said. “It was a big part of learning to trust Jesus, for sure.”

Clark found that her greatest fear was feeling like a failure — to herself and her goals. But she realized ending her path toward nursing didn’t have to change her sense of self-worth.

She finally took the leap at the beginning of her junior year and hasn’t looked back. Asked if she has advice for high school students looking toward an uncertain future, Clark shared this:

“I would tell them Jesus is real. And they should always be patient with themselves and realize that everything is a journey. They should ask questions, and seek out whatever is in their hearts.”

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Category: Graduation