The real ‘Big Mark’ behind the stereotypes



Many students know senior Mark Nettles as “Big Mark,” the student who rides in the 2002 Chevrolet Impala around campus.

But behind the flashy rims, blue paint job and tricked out doors, Nettles finds himself being stereotyped as something he is not because of the car he drives.

Nettles’ Impala was one of the cars involved in a hate crime that took place fall of 2010 on campus. As well as having his car spray-painted with “KKK” on the hood and doors, he also had his tires slashed.

“I sometimes hear people say crazy things about me because of the car I drive,” Nettles said. “I’ve heard them call me ‘ghetto,’ ‘hood,’ and a ‘pimp.’”

Nettles and his 2002 Chevrolet Impala

Nettles said anyone who knows him well knows he is not any of the things he is stereotyped as.

“I think my whole life I’ve kind of made adjustments to fulfill the needs of narrow-minded individuals,” Nettles said. “In general, the narrow-minded individuals are the ones who need to adjust.”

On campus, Nettles has been a Resident Assistant at Fischer Hall and Wellers Hall, a member of the economics club, a member of the National Association of Black Accountants, and a King Chavez Scholar mentor.

Off campus, Nettles has interned with Deloitte Touche for three years and has pending job offers with both Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers, two of the biggest national accounting firms.

“I think my accomplishments speak for themselves,” Nettles said. “I try not to pay attention to the negative stereotypes.”

Nettles grew up in Milwaukee and will be the first person to graduate in his family. Coming from a poorer background, Nettles said he didn’t have the best academic fundamentals coming into UWWhitewater and he was in a lot of remedial courses.

“I worked hard to graduate in four years and will be graduating with honors,” Nettles said. “My college experience really showed me that anyone can be successful if they put their mind to it.”

Nettles said he spends about four hours per day studying during the week and at least six hours a day on the weekend.

As Nettles grew into his college life, he said he became more dedicated to giving back to the communities who helped him and helping other individuals become successful.

Nettles is a mentor to the King Chavez Scholars Program, which was initiated at UW-Whitewater in 1997. The program is dedicated to compliment the multicultural students at the university. Nettles became a part of the group his freshman year.

“I get to work closely with the department and give lectures about my own life,” Nettles said. “If I sit in a room and touch four people out of every 10, that’s a good accomplishment.”

Nettles said it is especially important to him to reach out to these students because he really struggled his freshman year at school.

Nettles and friend Derrick Guy

“It was a complete 180 going to high school at Milwaukee Public Schools to college at UW-Whitewater,” Nettles said. “Adapting to a new environment was a big struggle for me.”

Nettles said he couldn’t have gotten through the struggles in college without the help of UW-Whitewater professors and mentors.

Lecturer Lynn Hafemeister had Nettles in her Intermediate Accounting I and II classes.

“Mark is a very hard worker,” Hafemeister said. “It’s very important to him to do well and succeed because he is the first in his family to graduate from college.”

Though Nettles’ background might differ from other students, Hafemeister said he is a pleasant student, a good participant in class, and that he is very cordial to other students.

“He’s more active in terms of outside activity and getting his professional career off the ground,” Hafemeister said. “He definitely had a goal in mind when he started his accounting major here at UW-Whitewater.”

Nettles said his goal is to ultimately become an audit partner of a big firm one day. Right now Nettles is working on public accounting and said he hopes his opportunities will grow from there.

In his free time, Nettles said he enjoys improving his golf skills, trapshooting, and playing intramural basketball when he can.

Despite any stereotypes he may hear, Nettles said he will continue doing what he’s doing and ignore the negativity.

“People look at others and throw them into a category, and a lot of people are affected by it,” Nettles said. “It sucks, but I think it’s very common.”

Nettles will be graduating this May and beginning graduate school at UW-Whitewater this summer while doing an internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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