JOPLIN, Mo. — Kansas City University-Joplin is holding its first graduation this weekend.
One of those graduates says her path to becoming a physician changed the day of the 2011 Joplin tornado.
“I always wanted to be a doctor,” said Cali Clark. “But I think just graduating the day of the tornado, it just helped me to realize that Joplin really is a special community and we have such a bond with each other and it made me want to stay here and be a part of that.”
Clark graduated from Joplin High School on May 22, 2011, the day an EF-5 tornado tore through Joplin.
She says that day inspired her to give back to her community.
“It helped me to get that sense of community and sense of unity,” Clark said. “The tornado was such a horrible thing and many people lost their lives and homes and I wanted to stay here and be able to build up the community just like they had supported us during that time.”
Clark attended Missouri Southern State University for her undergrad and is now part of Kansas City University-Joplin’s first graduating class.
“It couldn’t have worked out any more perfect than that,” Clark said. “Then, being on the other side and being here four years later, its almost like this rush of this dream coming true and being able to have it fulfilled.”
She will be starting her residency at Freeman Health System for internal medicine.
On Sunday, 131 students will be graduating from KCU-Joplin and 18 of those will be staying in the Joplin area.
“The excitement in the air is palpable,” said Laura Rosch, Dean of KCU-Joplin. “It’s just so long awaited. It’s been a dream and vision of many stakeholders in the community and we are so proud of these amazing graduates to make it through.”