Students in field

Marilyn Clark to be Finlandia University’s Commencement Speaker

April 25, 2018

Finlandia University is proud to announce MTEC SmartZone CEO Marilyn Clark will be the 2018 Commencement Speaker during commencement exercises on Sunday, April 29 at the Paavo Nurmi Center.

“Marilyn is a believer. She believes in people, their ideas, and the enduring positive change they are able to bring to the U.P., Michigan and around the world,” FinnU President Philip Johnson said. “She is a hopeful, positive human being who also knows a lot about business.”

Clark currently runs MTEC SmartZone, a business incubator/accelerator in Houghton. This state-funded organization helps people with a business idea assess whether they can make money at their endeavor and create a job for themselves or others. During her seven years leading this organization, she has helped create programs that help companies grow and prosper in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.

“Marilyn has been a good friend and ally for many years,” Johnson said. “Before taking the lead at SmartZone, she was one of ours, bringing to our business students her wealth of professional experience and contagious energy and enthusiasm for all things entrepreneurial and innovative. It was not a surprise to us that she would be sought out for leadership by the SmartZone when the need arose.”

Clark, a Chassell native, worked for Cummins Engine Company for 20 years before returning to the Copper Country in 2005. Upon returning, she worked for a startup in the SmartZone and taught in Finlandia University’s International School of Business before accepting the Chief Executive Officer position at SmartZone in 2012.

“Many graduations ask famous people to give their commencement addresses,” Clark said. “Success in life is more than monetary success, or fame. As a person who grew up in the Copper Country, I understand that success is about creating a life that utilizes the gifts we have been given. Every graduate has the opportunity to create their own version of success. I am thrilled to be asked to speak on this topic. I have been very blessed to live internationally, travel extensively, but yet come back to the Copper Country and contribute to the community I love by taking a role that helps to create jobs and wealth here. Each of us can take our dreams and make them reality.”

It’s that hopeful energy that Johnson thinks will resonate with the Finlandia University Class of 2018.

“Marilyn is able to speak meaningfully to Finlandia’s graduates because she embodies those ideas and ideals to which Finlandia is most committed: to be a learning community that fosters enduring positive change in how students think, act, and feel in matters of the self, others, and the wider world,” he said. “Marilyn gets this.”

Learn more about Graduation Day 2018, including reading a bio about Marilyn Clark at finlandia.edu/graduation.

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