SGU student first from the university to be named DaVanci Scholar.

Junior education student John Clark made history when he became the first St. Gregory’s University student to be named a DaVinci Scholar.

Five pre-service teachers are chosen each year to receive a Da Vinci award, which is presented by the education think tank, the DaVinci Institute.

To be considered for the honor, a student must first be nominated by his or her university, then submit a proposal for an interactive lesson plan that would allow students to not only learn about a topic, but also put those lessons to use in a real world setting.

“I was pretty surprised that I won,” Clark said. “It was a little bit of a shock because no one from St. Gregory’s had ever won one. I looked at previous winners, and not many males had ever won it either.”

Clark’s winning lesson plan focused on Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which gave law enforcement in that state the ability to ask anyone to provide proof of citizenship without first having committed a crime or suspicious act.

He compared that Bill to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which banned the hiring or immigration of Chinese workers, and to the phenomenon of the Japanese internment camps following the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, which led to the rise of Mexican immigrant worker populations in the West during World War II.

“I thought it would be good for students to look at past events and relate it to current events,” Clark said.

“Students would be working in groups and analyzing each event and debate about them and talk about how they were similar. The service project was to go to the Oklahoma City Archdiocese, which has a help center for undocumented immigrants and see some of the struggles that immigrants go through, tour the facility, discover the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.”

Dr. Gayle Fischer, St. Gregory’s Director of Teacher Education, said winning a DaVinci award requires someone who is very scholarly and willing to put in the extra effort.

“It was good timing with the topic of immigration, and it was a good lesson,” she said. “You can’t send a bunch of high school kids down to Haiti, but they can go down to Catholic Charities and work with immigrants.”

Clark, a scholar-athlete who is a member of the SGU basketball team in addition to maintaining a 4.0 GPA, will begin student teaching this Fall.

“I’m just blown away that I was able to have this opportunity,” Clark said. “It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”