“I will study to prepare myself and maybe someday my chance will come.” – Abraham Lincoln.
Whether your introduction to the 16th President of the United States was via a history class, New York Times best-seller Team of Rivals, recent Academy Award winner Lincoln, or the less historically accurate Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, one thing you may not know about one of our most respected presidents is that he was entirely self-educated.
Raised on the frontier where teachers were hard to find, Abraham Lincoln attended school for less than a year. He taught himself to write poetry, run a general store, and practice law from reading books. By the time he became president, his greatest educational achievement was learning how to learn from the teachers he chose – from his books.
Artist G.B. Clausen was well aware of that fact when he created the Lincoln Medallion, which now resides on the second floor of the Clark College Cannell Library.
The medallion, originally sculpted in plaster and bronzed after Clausen’s death, depicts young Lincoln under a tree reading a book with the famous quote, “I will study to prepare myself and maybe someday my chance will come.” It was completed in 1937. At 27” across, it weighs between 60 and 70 pounds.
George Clausen was a third-generation artist and a self-educated man. His grandfather was recruited from Denmark by the US railroads to paint western murals. Clausen was forced to quit high school to support his family and later taught himself to be an Architect Draftsman. His bronze plaque honoring former Oregon governor Charles H. Martin is currently housed in the state capital building. He was working part-time at the Portland Art Museum when he created the Lincoln Medallion.
The medallion was donated by his children, John and Grace Clausen.
John Clausen was a professor of Business Technology at Clark College up until his retirement in 2012. “I think Clark College could be a fitting place for this plaque,” he said. Because of its central image, the original conversation centered on hanging it in the library. The library is honored to receive the sculpture with the hope that it will inspire students studying to prepare themselves. It is viewable by the public during open hours.
In our modern era, formal credentials are no longer optional for most careers, especially law. But with rising tuition costs and increased job competition, students, like Lincoln, must be smarter than ever at charting their own educational course. Attending community college may be the first or final step on a long and twisting career path.
A long and twisting career path that may, someday, if their chance should come, include the Oval Office at the White House.
Thanks to Terri Lunde of the Clark College Foundation and John Clausen.