June 13, 2006

Contact: Anne Russell
or 604-504-7441, local 2826
Cell: 604-798-3709

Honorary degree: David Chalk

Chalk comes full circle with honorary degree from UCFV

David Chalk
Complete. That’s the word that comes to David Chalk’s mind when asked how he feels about receiving an honorary Doctor of Technology degree from the University College of the Fraser Valley.

The successful entrepreneur, educator, and media personality –- known as an expert on demystifying technology for the ordinary user -– never finished his university degree and barely graduated from high school.

Not because he wasn’t bright, but because an undiagnosed learning disability -- a severe form of dyslexia -- made it difficult to learn in the traditional academic setting. Chalk thinks in pictures rather than words, and reading and remembering are major challenges for him.

“My education was the toughest ordeal I’ve been through in my life,” Chalk recalls. “It almost broke me as a child, taking someone who was interested in the world and pushing me down and making me feel so bad because I couldn’t learn the way I was supposed to.

“Things were a little better when I got to university at UBC because I could choose my courses and had more control over how I learned material, but I still never graduated because

I couldn’t do all the reading and writing that was required,” he continues.

“So it is extremely validating to have an academic institution acknowledge that I have achieved something significant, and done something good by teaching others. I was told not to expect much out of life, so it’s a real sense of completion now that I’m being recognized for my work.”

“I am honoured beyond comprehension that UCFV is acknowledging that minds can do amazing things even if they don’t follow a conventional system. It’s my hope that the world can truly start to enjoy and free all those beautiful minds out there.”

Chalk’s first claim to fame was the Doppler Computer Superstores chain, which he founded in his parents’ basement and developed into a major retail chain. But even in the Doppler days, he was striving to make technology less intimidating to the average person.

“Doppler was all about education,” he recalls. “Computers were confusing and frustrating to many people, but I saw ways to explain them, and to show people they weren’t as complex as they thought. That’s why we succeeded in business.”

Dave Chalk talking

His second career has built on that educational knack through Chalk Media, billed as the “experts in how-to content”. Chalk Media produces television and in-flight programs, and online training solutions for numerous high-profile clients.

For the last 10 years, Chalk and his young family have called Abbotsford home, and he has had a significant impact on the community. He is currently working to create a program called Full Esteem Ahead to help children with learning disabilities believe in themselves. He mentors children with learning disabilities via email and telephone, and worked with Telus to install an Internet café at B.C.’s Children’s Hospital.

UCFV’s Alumni Association board nominated Chalk for the honorary doctorate.

“David’s perserverance and determination to excel and achieve success, regardless of adversity, is an inspiration and motivation to all students,” noted the board in its nomination document, adding that he’s an inspiration to business students for his entrepreneurial savvy, to computing students for his gift for sharing technology, to media students for his success as a TV personality, and to students with disabilities as an example of what’s possible.

Dave Chalk 3
Chalk won’t be taking all the credit for his honorary degree. Two special women have enabled him to succeed in life.

“My mum taught me that I could do anything and be whatever I want to be if I trusted myself – and she never gave up on me. And my wife Keely is everything to me on a daily basis. She removes all the burdens that my brain has such trouble dealing with so I am free to create. I’m just like the absent-minded professor and she frees me to be so by taking care of details.”

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