Serena Clark

Serena Clark

Serena Clark has always been around sports.  She was always the kid sister outside playing basketball with her older brother and his friends at home in Stone Mountain, Ga.  But, she says, when she told her dad that she wanted to play basketball when she was in seventh grade, he wasn’t quite sure she’d make the team. 

She did make the team, though, and in addition to playing volleyball and running track, she played basketball at Tucker (Ga.) High School so well that she earned a scholarship in her favorite sport to Clemson University.

“When I got the scholarship to Clemson, I knew that was perfect for me,” Clark recalled.  “I thought, ‘I love this place.’”

However, after her freshman year, when she played in 18 games for the Tigers, she made the difficult choice to look elsewhere.  “It was a really tough decision for me.  I cried.  But it was a decision I knew I had to make for myself.”

Clark had heard of ETSU several years earlier, because her seventh grade math teacher was an ETSU graduate.  She knew of the Lady Bucs’ three consecutive Atlantic Sun Conference basketball championships (2008-10), and, because she always wanted to be a pharmacist, she knew of ETSU’s Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy and the university’s pre-pharmacy program.

So she visited the campus.  She was made to feel very welcome by the basketball coaches and players, and even had an opportunity to speak with a former ETSU men’s basketball player who had also been a pre-pharmacy student.  “He actually went on to get into pharmacy school, and told me how he was able to do both basketball and pre-pharmacy,” she said.  “You just know when it feels like home, when it feels right.”

Now a senior with a double-major in biology and chemistry, Clark has enjoyed success both on and off the court as a Lady Buccaneer basketball player.  This year, she is captain of the team and was a Preseason All-Southern Conference Team pick.  As of Jan. 31, the Lady Bucs have a 14-7 overall and 6-0 conference record.  Clark has played in all 21 games thus far, scoring an average of 10 points per game, and has 182 rebounds, 22 steals and 33 blocks on the season.  Her hard work in the classroom has also paid off, as she has been the Lady Bucs’ Academic MVP for the last two years.

Clark has been active as a member of the Pre-Pharmacy Student Organization since spring 2012, and is vice president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, which is comprised of two representatives from each women’s and men’s team who serve as the voice of all student athletes in working with the administrators and coaches within the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics at ETSU.

She has also followed her mother’s lead in becoming a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, which she now serves as vice president.  “The neat thing about that is that once you’re a member, you’re a member for life,” Clark said.  “My mom has been a member since 1985 when she was in college, and when I was growing up, I was surrounded by her and her sorority sisters, and saw all the good things they did in the community – helping out and giving back.  My mom had a big influence on my choosing Delta.  You know, girls want to be like their moms, and my mom is a really great person.  I’ve seen all the good things Delta has allowed her to do for other people, and I wanted to be in the same position.”

Clark will graduate in May, and has been accepted to the McWhorter School of Pharmacy at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., where she will begin her studies this fall.  As of now, she is leaning toward specializing in pediatric pharmacy because of her love for children.

“I think my niece has a lot to do with it,” she said.  “I spend a lot of time around her when I can.  I worked at Johnson City Parks and Recreation two summers ago, and have worked as a summer camp counselor.  I also job-shadowed at the Niswonger Children’s Hospital at Johnson City Medical Center.

“You can just see the innocence of children,” she continued.  “They don’t know right from wrong, really – they just live life, run around and play.  And anytime you see a child hurt – even something so simple as something that only needs a Band-Aid – you know it hurts, and they can’t really help themselves.  One day, hopefully, I’ll be able to help them through what I’m interested in doing.”

Clark is now able to look back and know that her decision to transfer was the right one.  “I realize I’m glad I made that decision, because coming here to ETSU has given me a lot.  I got into pharmacy school because I’m in a pre-pharmacy program, and I got to shadow here.  And basketball is going really well.  It’s been amazing here, especially being able to see all the changes here the last four years.” 

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