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Navar Clark: Japanese Enthusiast and College Student Hopeful

This is a last ditch effort to pull together the remaining funds for my gifted, little brother to start his first year of college!

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Note: to jump to video of Navar in action, click these links.

 

To view some of his artwork, click the "Gallery" tab above. Also in the Gallery tab are examples of his writings, in the "Files" section.

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Hello,

My name is Ashleigh Murray, I'm 25 years old and the second oldest of three children, but this campaign isn't about me; it’s about my remarkable little brother, Navar Clark. He’s 19 years old, a high school graduate, trilingual, and has Asperger’s Syndrome. He's the brightest, kindest, most eccentric person I've ever known. His biggest aspiration is to study in Japan and the best way for him to do that is by attending a college with a fierce study abroad program!

This past fall my mother and brother visited the campus of William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri where they both fell in love with the institution. It wasn't the stunning grounds or high-end facilities that won them over, but the exceptionally stellar Japanese Studies department. Navar met with many of the faculty as well as the department's head. They were all equally impressed Navar's knowledge of Japanese culture as well as the language, especially since he taught himself how to read, write, and speak it in less than a year.

They finished up their tour of the campus in the financial aid office and that's where everything came to a screeching halt. The cost for the year was quoted at $42,790. That included tuition and room & board. Even with the grants, scholarships, and awards given him, there was a balance left of $4000. Sadly to say, my family couldn't afford to send him right away. My mother, doing her best to comfort Navar, assured him not to worry. We would try again to enroll him for the spring semester. Perhaps with the continuation of applying for scholarships and her attempting to find part-time employment, the monies would be available for him to attend in January. Even though this would be a daunting task, as my mother is disabled with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and on a fixed income, she was determined to help her youngest child realize his dream.

In November of 2012, my mother called me at work to say that she had spoken with the financial aid department at Jewell, and the balance due for Navar to attend college this January was about $800! You can imagine how ecstatic we were. I come from a lower-middle class family and just getting me through college was stressful enough.

Now, I am employed at a law firm here in New York City. While I don’t make loads of money, I get by. This year, we received Christmas bonuses, and so I decided that my gift to the family would be to give $500 to help make up most of the balance due. Sharing this news made for a joyous Christmas. My mother said she would try to find a way to make up the remainder. Navar was going to college!!

Last week, Mom called with will some unsettling news. She told me that the break down for the spring semester would be as follows:

  • $15,100 for tuition
  • $2,165 for housing
  • $1,715 for his meals
  • Total for the semester $18,980

Navar’s awards are the following:

Award

Description

Award Amount

Current Status

DLUSB

Federal Direct Loan (Unsubsidized)

$1,000.00

Accepted

NDSN

Federal Perkins Loan

$750.00

Pending

AMG

Access Missouri Grant

$1,175.00

Accepted

SCACH

Achiever Scholarship

$4,500.00

Accepted

CGND

WJC Cardinal Grant

$2,250.00

Accepted

CWSP

Federal Work Study

$1,000.00

Accepted

DLSUB

Federal Direct Loan (Subsidized)

$1,750.00

Accepted

PELL

Federal Pell Grant

$2,775.00

Accepted

DLUS2

Federal Direct Loan (Unsub)

$2,000.00

Accepted

 

Total for year

$17,200.00

 

Now, if you add the totals, the balance comes to $1780, not $800! So, where did the $800 figure come from? Well, the financial aid representative accidentally counted the work study amount twice when he quoted my mother the final balance. Once again, we found ourselves at an unreachable deficit. With my $500 gift, we are still $1280 short for his tuition, not including the $300 non-refundable deposit needed for housing. How could this be? It’s disheartening to think that such a small amount (in comparison to the total cost) is standing between my brother and a promising future. 

Navar is a very special young man who has overcome many obstacles in his young life. During the first 18 months of his life, he suffered from a total of 13 inner ear infections, which led to him getting tubes put in his ears at age 2. Because of these infections, he didn’t start talking until he was about 2 ½ years old. The doctors said this was because, during the first 18months, his hearing was muffled due to the fluid that was constantly in his ears. Once that issue was resolved, however, he began talking up a storm! His first clear word was “coffee.”  The day he first said it, we were all so happy and excited, praising him all day. Because of this praise, he ran around the house all day yelling, “Coffee! Coffee!”  Also, Navar’s favorite move at the time was The Lion King. He would watch it over and over for hours. The running joke in our house was that the Lion King taught him how to talk, because when he spoke, his tone and inflection mimicked that of Simba.

Navar faced many challenges throughout his school years, however he overcame each one. Although he had difficulty socializing and making friends, his level of intelligence and pragmatic, “little professor-type” speech endeared him to many. He began to develop a love for Japanese anime, which eventually led him to his passion for Japanese culture. He became so proficient in the language that, for his community service requirement for graduation, Navar taught a Japanese class after school once a week. His class consisted of fellow students and teachers. One of his students commented that Navar was one of the best teachers he’d ever had. 

Japan, however, is not his only passion. He loves learning all languages, as well as the arts. Not only did he teach himself Japanese, he also speaks French, having taken to the language so well that his instructor skipped him from French I to French III in his sophomore year in high school. By the time he graduated, he was in a class equivalent to first-year College French. Navar is an exceptional cartoonist, becoming quite proficient in anime, even to the point in creating his on characters. He loves music, and plays the trumpet, as well as teaching himself to play the piano. We were told by a music professor that he has perfect pitch. Due to his accomplishments in academics, he was nominated to serve as a National Scholar representing the state of Missouri at the National Young Leaders Conference (NYLC), which was held in Washington, D.C. during the summer 2011. He was personally selected by his physics teacher at Southwest Early College Campus, Mr. Grigori Saiyan, as an outstanding individual who has achieved academic excellence and possesses leadership potential.

Attending college is a huge step in his development, not just academically, but socially, as well. Because of the issues he has faced throughout his young life due to Asperger Syndrome, Navar struggled with his social development. He was constantly bullied in school by other students who didn't understand why or how he was different from them. However, Navar was steadfast in his efforts to fit in with his peers. He developed close friendships with certain students and teachers.  After a while, Navarre soon became a much loved person in the student populous.

Although technically, he is in the autism spectrum, Navar is what is considered extremely high-functioning. I feel comfortable in saying that Navar could be considered a genius. He is much like other famous geniuses who were/are thought to have Asperger's syndrome such as Bill Gates, Mozart, and Albert Einstein. I believe that, if given the chance, he could be one of the great contributors to human history.

The lengths of his talents reach farther than any website summary can muster, but allow me to leave you with some of his own words. One of Navar's favorite quotes about himself is, "There's no 'asp' in my burgers!"

I believe that says it all.

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