Gen. Wesley K. Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, visited the University of Arkansas at Little Rock on Feb. 28 to give some background on current political topics and advice to some of UA Little Rock’s most promising students.
The Little Rock native visited as a special guest speaker to students in the Donaghey Scholars Honors Program, the university’s top honors program that provides free tuition, fees, room and board, a computer, and a study abroad trip for students selected for the program. Donaghey Scholars participate in an interdisciplinary curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking through the reading of primary texts, writing, and discussion.
Gen. Clark spoke to more than 50 Donaghey Scholars. The visit was connected to a special course taught by Dr. Jessica Scott, associate director of the Donaghey Scholars, and Dr. René Shroat-Lewis, associate professor of geology, that focuses on energy policy and sustainability. He discussed the war in Ukraine and the geopolitical impact of the sanctions on Russia, especially in the field of energy.
“I am so grateful that the students had this opportunity,” Scott said. “General Clark has had an incredible career and is still an active part of shaping world events through his consulting work. I also cannot stress enough how much it matters to our students to see that someone with General Clark’s career graduated from high school right here in Little Rock. It is important for them to see how far they can go if they also strive for excellence in everything they do.”
Junior Lamar Townsend, a double major in political science and finance/real estate, said he learned a lot from the general’s visit.
“It was a good perspective from someone who’s been in the field for so long, and it was a unique perspective to hear,” Townsend said. “The most interesting part of Gen. Clark’s visit was hearing about the history of America’s influence on foreign relations.”
While Yvonne Rodriquez, a double major in sociology and political science, found Gen. Clark’s take on current political topics “eye opening,” her favorite part of the general’s talk was his three principles for how to approach life.
“You’ve got to approach life with three principles,” Gen. Clark said. “Do the best you can do with what you’re doing and go into it like your life depends on it. The second thing you’ve got to be is humble. The third thing you have to have is gratitude.”
“It was very inspiring that he said that our generation is the one who will change things for the future, and he told us about the three things we need to do to succeed in life,” Rodriquez said. “That’s what I took away as very inspiring.”
Following his talk, Gen. Clark spent an hour visiting with students who wanted to learn more. Scott said Gen. Clark’s visit was all the students could talk about during class the next day.
“Some of the things they talked about included how he stressed the importance of making an impact and creating the world they want to live in, starting in their own communities,” Scott said. “They also appreciated how he made them ‘see the whole board’ when it comes to geopolitics and better understand the many factors that have to be considered in countries to get involved in disputes. They said it helped them to understand what is happening in Ukraine with greater depth. Several of them also mentioned how much they appreciated his warmth and interest in them.”