Lisa Valentine Clark visited students as the keynote speaker for the annual English Symposium to talk about how her English teaching degree has shaped her life.
PROVO, Utah (Feb. 27, 2020)—Recently, BYU’s English Department held its annual symposium, where students get the chance to share what they’ve been working on and attend specialized sessions. This year, Lisa Valentine Clark was invited to be the keynote speaker for the symposium.
Clark graduated from BYU with a degree in English teaching and has since done everything from teaching high school English, acting in improv comedy groups to, now, hosting her own talk show on BYUradio called “The Lisa Show.”
The theme for this year’s symposium was “Visions of Past, Present, and Future.” Taking this theme into consideration, Clark spoke about her experience studying English at BYU, what she’s done since then and what she’s doing now, and how we can be future oriented.
During her time at BYU, Clark participated in the sketch comedy group called “the Garrens.” She attributes her love of comedy and many of her post-graduate opportunities to acting in the group, and she advised students to participate in extracurricular activities they’re passionate about in order to make meaningful relationships and connections that they can draw upon in the future.
Of her degree and extracurricular involvement, Clark noted, “My English degree gave me a good foundation for what I would go on to do…Being able to see, read, and then disseminate that information quickly, make sense of it, and see it from different critical contexts is timeless.”
She then moved on to talk about what she has done since graduating. Aside from teaching, Clark has acted in, written, and produced a number of commercials, shows, and movies. She’s also written a book and has recently started hosting her own radio show. Of her post-BYU journey Clark noted, “I think one of the greatest accomplishments of my life is just saying yes to things that were super uncomfortable, that were super inconvenient, that made me feel really stupid; and yet, I’m so glad I did them.”
Clark called this mentality her “Yes, and…” response to life. The concept of “Yes, and…” is a popular methodology in improv comedy. It is about taking what other players are giving you and then continuing to add upon and improve it. Clark has done this repeatedly with opportunities that have come in her life, and it has led to incredible and unique ways to use and improve on her BYU English teaching degree.
—Heather Bergeson (English ’21)