Student receives ethical citizen award

BY BECKI DEGEEST
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Erica Clark

Erica Clark

It was just an average day for MSUM student Erica Clark, who went to grab a bite to eat at McDonalds. That, of course, was before finding and returning an envelope containing $2,800 from the parking lot.

“I never really had any second thoughts about it,” Clark said about returning the money. “I knew that I couldn’t keep the money and tried to figure out what to do, so I called my dad, and we went to the police station and returned it.”

Clark, who is an elementary inclusive education freshman, knew she had to do something when she found the money. When she picked up the envelope, she figured that it held just a small amount of cash, but opened it to find several hundred dollar bills.

Luckily, enclosed in the envelope was not only cash, but also a receipt from Wells Fargo. Though it didn’t have a name on it, the Moorhead Police Department was able to track down the money’s owner by contacting the bank.

“I thought it was just mail. Then I saw the bank logo, and I just assumed that there was money in it, but I didn’t really expect that much,” Clark said.

The money was returned to the owner who intended on buying a car later that day, and went to McDonalds to kill some time when he lost the cash. After the money was returned, he was able to get in touch with Clark, and the two met.

After several newspapers and press releases went out to the public, the impact of her story inspired many people from all
over the country. Clark now has been receiving cards filled with gratitude and stories that Clark said she would never have expected but make her really happy.

“I couldn’t imagine what that guy was going through,” Clark said. “I would just hope that if the same thing happened to me, that they would return my money. I remember thinking this could be someone’s Christmas shopping money. That was one of the first things that ran through my mind.”

A few weeks after finding the cash and returning it, the interim dean of the college of education and human services and graduate studies, Boyd Bradbury, asked to meet with Clark. Later Bradbury asked her to be present at a staff meeting where he presented her with the ethical citizen award in front of the school of teaching and learning faculty on Feb. 19.

“I was very surprised going into the office, and then to the staff meeting. I didn’t know what to expect when I went,” Clark said. “I just thought they wanted to thank me, but I’m honored to have an award.”

Though she says that she didn’t expect things to “blow up like they did,” Clark is very appreciative for the awards, letters and cards and hopes that people will be inspired to do “the right thing” in the future.

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