Florida Campus

Clarke paves the way for others

Florida Campus Student Shereffa Clarke is the Eastern Region representative of the American Black Chiropractic Association and president of the student chapter on campus.
Shereffa Clarke

Shereffa Clarke remembers what it felt like to be a new person in a new environment when she began her education at the Florida Campus. “I had a couple of people that became ‘go to’ friends, people that could provide information about the way things worked, that really eased the stress of being new,” she says.

Ms. Clarke, now in her 10th Quarter, grew up in Fort Lauderdale and completed her undergraduate work in Medical Science from the University of South Florida. Despite the fact that she is from Florida and spent the past four years in college in Tampa, the Port Orange area was totally new to her.

“I imagine it’s even more difficult for someone from another state or another country,” she adds.

Recently appointed eastern region representative of the American Black Chiropractic Association (ABCA), Ms. Clarke has been president of the campus’ student chapter of the association (SABCA) for more than a year. ABCA was founded in 1981 by Dr. Bobby Westbrooks when he realized there was a need for supportive services for minorities in the chiropractic profession. “On campus it’s really about being a mentor for other students to help them get acclimated and more comfortable in their orientation to a new school and a new field,” she says. Although the organization’s objective is to recruit, encourage and support minorities to study chiropractic, according to Ms. Clarke, SABCA is not exclusive, but instead open to anyone.

“We have about 20 or 30 members on campus and half of those are people of mixed race,” she says. “We don’t turn anyone away.”

As SABCA grows on the Florida Campus, it continues to develop opportunities for students to get involved in the local community, too. SABCA members visit Boys and Girls Clubs and area elementary schools, to reach out to minority youths and share a message about continuing their education, as well as expose them to chiropractic.

Ms. Clarke moves easily between both of her local and national roles, emphasizing that ABCA has scholarships available and puts on a national convention. The organization will celebrate its 30th anniversary at its annual convention next June. Ms. Clarke adds, “As we reach out to minorities, my goal is to work more closely with groups such as PSAF (Palmer Student Alumni Foundation) and SACA (Student American Chiropractic Association), and work together toward the same common goal.”

One of the factors that motivated Clarke to become involved with ABCA and SABCA was the lack of information and awareness of chiropractic as a career choice for those at the undergraduate level. In her undergraduate experience she saw students in health sciences being directed toward advanced degrees in other healthcare professions, but very little emphasis on chiropractic.

“I like to be part of things that can make a difference on a larger scale,” she says. While her own and ABCA’s activities focus mostly on historically black colleges such as Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and Bethune-Cookman University, as well as East Coast chiropractic colleges, Ms. Clarke relishes her role in helping to grow the profession.

“If we can get more minority students to come to Palmer, then that meets our goal, but we’re also recruiting for the profession, not just the College,” Ms. Clarke says. “I want to help grow the field of chiropractic.”

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