CURCIO’S CORNER: A true superhero

I have not written a column for a while, but the recent passing of someone has prompted me to share with you about how one person can impact your life.

Many of you know I graduated from Pfeiffer with a degree in journalism. I would not have done it without the kindness, intellect and determination of all of my professors, of which there are too many to name.

I have always said when you go to Pfeiffer you become part of a very special extended family. With smaller class sizes, the relationship between student and teacher is so important. Pfeiffer professors knew me by name, not a student ID number.

However, with apologies to all who taught me, one professor stood out from the rest.

Dr. Randy Clark was a professor, advisor and mentor to me for four years at Pfeiffer and well beyond as I joined the media ranks.

I ran into some struggles in my junior year at Pfeiffer. Had I not had Dr. Clark, I would not have graduated and be doing what I do today.

He taught me how to write under pressure and instant deadlines (like 15 minutes before class was over). He was a sounding board for life as the job of a journalist changed throughout the years.

Dr. Clark was a role model for young men and women who one could have absolute trust in.

As I read stories from his former students online, I am reminded of the ways he impacted my life and others.

I received a birthday card and Christmas card through the United States Postal Service every year. Believe me, I was not the only one.

In much the same way coaching trees fan out into life, so did Dr. Clark’s students into various media.

One of the major pipelines of writers and editors for this publication was Dr. Clark’s Pfeiffer students.

My first time here at the SNAP started in late May 1999, two years after graduating from Pfeiffer. By the next month, the editor (Jenny Darby), both staff writers (Becka Flack and Jennifer Moxley) and yours truly manning the sports desk had all been his students.

I can’t even estimate the number of people who have worked for the SNAP in every capacity have been Pfeiffer graduates. But specifically, students like us found work at this publication right out of college thanks in part to Dr. Clark’s advocating for us as a reference.

Moxley later worked for News 14 Carolina (now Spectrum) and now has her own media company, Sunshine Media. She has produced material for major media groups, including networks such as CNN, CNBC, FS1 and more. Moxley also has worked with major companies like Duke Energy, American Express, Proctor and Gamble, Marriott and more.

She told me recently how he had helped her get her job with the SNAP.

“I never felt confident about my structural writing skills. Dr. Clark recommended me because of all the other things it takes to be a reporter,” Moxley said.

She added something I never knew about him, which was wonderful yet not surprising.

Dr. Clark was like a father to her, she said, and to many of the female students whom he protected.

“(He) was the first man in my life who didn’t violate my trust,” Moxley said. “It’s almost like Dr. Clark was there to be this superhero for so many women.”

I also spoke with Jenny Darby, now Jenny Blume, who referred to him as a superhero.

“He was a real superhero in our mundane 3-D world,” she said.

Dr. Clark sent myself and others so many cards through the mail for birthdays, weddings and holidays that I think he may have kept them in business for this long.

In fact, long ago someone created a private Facebook group about the things over the years Dr. Clark sent them.

Joy Almond, who also went to Pfeiffer and studied with him, is the director for the Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation. She shared with me this week how he came to her wedding reception with a gift she still has: a Scooby Doo cookie jar.

The ease of his delivery in classes of information, she said, felt less like a lecture and more like a conversation.

She also mentioned his Jerry Garcia-inspired ties (which I had forgotten) he wore. I always remember he was the only professor to give lectures wearing a Batman T-shirt (or other superheroes).

He was our superhero.