Deon's Open Road

  • INTERVIEWED BY:

    STEM Roadtrip

DEON CLARK

Nuclear Engineer / Founder
Palo Verde Power Plant/Legacy Initiative

“Get ready to become a nerd…because the nerd faces all the same challenges as everyone else, yet the nerd has the strength to defy all the peer pressure, do well in school, and still survive-without the entourage! That's a tough kid!”

INTERESTS:

Engineering Science

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Negativity Societal Pressures Self-Reflection Determination Focus Hard Work Education Community Choices Failure Pressure Risk Opportunity Perseverance Courage

FOUNDATION:

Building Things

BIOGRAPHY:

  • Came from a poor, rough part of Chicago: brother is in prison, sister recently got out.
  • He made a promise to his mother and to himself that he'd get an education and career; he was a good student, excelled at math.
  • His older brother went to the Navy, he went to try out as well; had to take a difficult exam that usually wasn't even given to kids in his area.
  • Figured out a pattern within the test and scored so well that one recruiter assumed he had cheated.
  • Placed in an 18-month program that would qualify him to operate a nuclear power plant; had to work seven days a week, 15 hours a day.
  • Was one of only 35 people that made it through; was running a nuclear aircraft carrier, head of a 42-person staff at age 19.
  • Now he spends much of his time speaking to young students; he tries to dismantle the negative connotation behind the word "nerd."
  • Tells road-trippers that they'll likely have to break away from everything they know, exit their comfort zone, but it'll be worth it.

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