Meet UAA Team

Dr. Trakenya Gordon Dobbins

Interim Director |

Dr. Trakenya Dobbins

Education: B.S. Administrative Management
M.Ed. Higher Education
Ed.D. Workforce Development
All from University of Arkansas

Short Bio: I have over 14 years of professional higher education experience, which includes five years of full-time teaching. I’m from North Little Rock, Arkansas and was the first in my family to go to college: I understand and can relate to first-generation college students.  I married my high school sweetheart and have a total of four girls.  Family time is my hobby!

Why I Chose Academic Advising as a Career: Academic Advising allows me to assist students in exploring their passions, declaring their major, and successfully graduating.  In short, advising helps me to help the younger me, who was truly undecided and changed my major 5 times!

Advice to Exploratory Students: Don’t be pressured by ANYONE into ANY major!  Even after changing my major 5 times, I still graduated within 4.5 years with my baccalaureate degree.  I highly recommend researching the college catalog and shadowing or interviewing a person in the field.

Carla Griffin

Academic Advisor for students’ last name – A to G |

Education:  B.A. Liberal Arts, UA Little Rock

Short Bio: I have worked in Higher Education for the last 28 years. Upon graduation from Little Rock Central High School in 1983, I began my freshman year at UA Little Rock .  I have been here every since, due to the service orientated attitudes of the UA Little Rock family that I had been adopted into.  The institution embraced and assisted me to mature and develop skills and competencies to reach my goal of graduation.  I have a passion for assisting students to learn how to navigate through their curriculum and to reach their goal of graduation.

Carla Griffin

“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world” —> Nelson Mandela

Why I chose Academic Advising as a career: I have developed a passion for assisting students access to higher education.  My career is very rewarding and allows opportunities to make real differences in student academic careers and lives.

Advice to Exploratory Students: Exchanges contact information with at least 2-3 people in each class, go to class, develop a good study routine, get organized, make new friends, get involved in campus activities and organizations, ask questions, talk to your professors ,read the undergraduate catalog, eat well balanced meals, exercise, sleep at least 6-8 hours a night.  Lastly, have fun and enjoy the college experience.

Yvette Palmer

Academic Advisor for students’ last name – H to P |

Education: B.A. Social Work, Louisiana College
Master of Divinity, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Yvette Palmer

Short Bio: I have worked approximately 25 years in higher education. I came to Little Rock from Pineville, Louisiana. I worked for 17 years in collegiate ministry, serving as the Baptist Collegiate Ministry Director at Louisiana State University in Eunice, and for 7 years at Louisiana State University in Alexandria. I have been in Little Rock now for almost 10 years and love it. I love walking the Big Dam Bridge, hiking Pinnacle Mountain, and teaching a ladies’ Sunday School class at New Life Baptist Church.Why I Chose Academic Advising as a Career: Upon my arrival in Little Rock, I began searching for a job. I loved my job working with college students and knew that I wanted to continue in that area. To be able to meet new college students and help guide them through the early semesters of college life is a very rewarding challenge! I really do enjoy my job.

Advice to Exploratory Students: You have a world of information at your fingertips. Be sure to take advantage of different tools online to figure out what the job possibilities are. Spend some time in self-reflection. Talk to those closest to you and get their opinion. Figure out what your SHAPE is: What are your Skills (things you have learned); Heart (Passion); Abilities (talents); Personality; and Experiences of life that have shaped who you are. The closer you can get to a major that leads to a career that utilizes your shape, the happier you will likely be in that career.

Chassidy Cooper

Academic Advisor for students’ last name – Q to Z | 

Education: B.A. History, Sewanee : University of the South
M.A. Higher Education, UA Little Rock
PhD., University of Central Arkansas  (In Progress)

Chassidy Cooper

Short Bio: I have worked approximately 6 years in higher education. I am a native Arkansan! I have lived in both Tennessee and Georgia, but nothing compares to being in the natural state. I have worked at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for about six years now. I am a PhD student and I also enjoy reading, writing, and mentoring young girls.

Why I Chose Academic Advising as a Career: I have always envisioned myself working for a university, helping students gain the tools necessary for college success. Advising, mentoring and leadership are major aspects of my life. I am a huge advocate for academic advising and support programs, and helping all students be successful in and outside the classroom.

Advice to Exploratory Students:  Be present in class every day! Get involved in student organizations and campus activities, and surround yourself with other students who study. Make key connections with faculty and staff, utilize campus resources and support programs, and develop good study habits. Intern throughout the summer. Lastly, be sure to try new things and enjoy this special time in your life!

Dr. Jan C. Dannaway

Academic Advisor for Student Athletes |

Education:  B.S. Education, University of Mississippi – Ole Miss
M.Ed., University of Mississippi
Ed.D., Mississippi State University

Dr. Dannaway

Short Bio:  Born in Pennsylvania.  Graduated high school in Wilmington, Delaware.  Attended Fairmont State College (West Virginia), Ole Miss, and Mississippi State University.  Taught and coached in Atlanta, Georgia.  Director of Student Activities at a community college in Mississippi.  In my 40th year at UA Little Rock.  Married: have 2 sons and 3 grandchildren.

Why I Chose Academic Advising as a Career:  As I pursued a college education I realized the value of in having an academic advisor. Particularly as a college athlete, I saw the importance of having someone who could keep you on track when you were playing ball and dealing with practices and games that interfered with classes.

Autumn Perkins

Academic Advisor – Pulaski Technical College Liaison | | PTC: 771-6033

Education:  B.A. English, Campbellsville University
M.S. College Student Personnel, Arkansas Tech University

Autumn Perkins

Short Bio: I have worked in higher education for over seven years at Baptist Health Schools Little Rock, Pulaski Technical College, and University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  I am very passionate about providing students with the information they need to succeed.  When I  look at my own experiences as a student, I am a statistical anomaly.  I was a first-generation, low income, non-traditional student.  In addition to attending school, I worked and was a single parent with a limited support system.  I share this to say if I can succeed, so can you.  Not only can you succeed, but you can excel.

Why I Chose Academic Advising as a Career: I have a strong background in Admissions and Records, but chose to pursue Academic Advising because of my desire to work more closely with students.  Students are the heart of higher education and I believe every action I take should be student-centered.  I do what I do for students and because I believe education changes lives.

Advice To Exploratory Students:  My advice to exploratory students is to dig deep and think about when you are the happiest.  Consider what makes you happy, look at your strengths, and research majors that play on your strengths.  Your major should lead you to a career that sparks passion within you and supports your life goals.  My favorite quote is from Flavia Weedn who said, “If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again.”  I believe life can be full of obstacles, but we should not let those obstacles stand in the way of achieving greatness.

Avestine Ward

PEAW Coordinator |

Avestine Ward

Education: B.A. Psychology
B.A. Criminal Justice
Certification Conflict Mediation
Certification Non-profit Organization
M.P.A. Public Administration

Short Bio: I have worked approximately 6 years in Higher Education as an Adjunct Professor.  I started my college career in Portland, OR.  I was commissioned to move back to Arkansas to assist my parents in their elder years.  I am from a family of 12 children, 6 boys and 6 girls.  My parents always impressed upon us to get an education.  I enjoy helping young people accomplish their goals, while reaching their full potential in life. I enjoy family, ministry, food, traveling, and knowledge.

Why I Chose Academic Advising as a Career:  Academic Advising allows me to be a part of laying the foundation for a student’s college career.  When I graduated from UA Little Rock with my master’s degree, I set a goal to someday work at my alma mater.  I believe in UA Little Rock’s mission.  I believe in helping people become a better “You.”  I believe in sowing and reaping.  We only have one life to live.  We must live it to the fullest; helping others along the way.  I am honored to be a part of the Office of Undergraduate Academic Advising.

Advice to Exploratory Students: Get to know “YOU.”  Learn your strengths and weaknesses.  Use UA Little Rock, First Year Experience class to help you build upon that part of “YOU.”  See your college career as your job for the next 4-6 years.  Your pay checks are your grades and your cumulative GPA.  Your GPA is your roadmap to your degree…declare a major. Your major travels you to your degree that gets you to your designation..your job.  Your job affords you the Quality of Life you desired when you initially started at UA Little Rock.  Persistence and Resilience are your best friends.

Jasleen Kaur

Graduate Assistant |

Jasleen Kaur

Education: B.S. Computer Science, Maharshi Dayanand University
M.S. Information Science, UA Little Rock (In progress)

Short Bio: I started my school in UA Little Rock as a master’s student in Information Science in Spring 2017. I hold an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from India. Before I came to pursue my masters, I was working with Ernst & Young for 3 years as a consultant in Data Analytics.

Why I Chose Academic Advising as a Data Analyst GA: During my years in college, I studied subjects like Data Structures, Database Management System, Analysis and Design of Algorithms etc. that made me realize the importance of data around us. It has invaded almost every sphere of our day-to-day lives. I have a passion of finding the hidden secrets that lie in the data all around us. This GA position will allow me to dive deep into the data analytics and find answers to the problems students might have.

Advice to Exploratory Students: As a student I can relate to the challenges other students might have and I would be more than happy to assist my fellow Trojans. Stay motivated and never hesitate to ask questions. “The best scientists and explorers have the attributes of kids! They ask question and have a sense of wonder. And that’s how they learn and grow!” “- Sylvia Earle”.

Nora Bouzihay


Nora Bouzihay

Education: B.S. Biology-UA Little Rock
MPS, Masters in Public Service-Clinton School of Public Service
Current Doctorate Student in Education-Higher Ed/Student Affairs-UA Little Rock

Short Bio: I am a recent graduate of the Clinton School of Public Service where I spent the majority of my thesis abroad working with the U.S. Department of State in Dubai, UAE. I’m from Jonesboro, Arkansas and am a first generation college student in the US.  The big portion of my current work includes working with first-generation college students and minorities.  I chose to come back to UA Little Rock to obtain my Doctorate because of the opportunity to work closely with students along with such an enriching yet close knit relationship with the faculty.  Traveling to new countries is my hobby!

Why I Chose Academic Advising as a GA:  I have a passion to give back and assist students in truly finding their passions which leads to finding their majors and finishing up their degrees.  In short, this GA positions allows me to assists students at a personal level to help them find what they are truly passionate about.

Advice to Exploratory Students: Learn that there is a difference between what you are naturally good at and what you are truly passionate about! I highly recommend taking personality assessment tests that will help you towards your aim at finding the right career path. Always stay motivated and focus on the finish line!

Joel Ratliff

Graduate Assistant – Academic Coach |

Joel Ratliff

Education: B.A. Music, Instrumental, University of Central Arkansas
M.Ed. Counselor Education, UA Little Rock (In Progress)

Short Bio: I have worked in the technology field for the past 6 years.  I have also worked as a worship leader at my local church for over 10 years.  Additionally, I am pursuing my master’s degree in Counselor Education.  I plan on gaining my doctorate degree to continue supporting college students.  I have traveled to 5 different countries (mostly for music) and plan to continue traveling in the future.  I have song background vocals for an American Idol winner when I was in undergraduate school and plan to continue doing music in my spare time.

Why I Chose Academic Advising as an Academic Coach: I have completed all coursework in the graduate program for Middle Childhood Education here at UA Little Rock, but decided to switch to Counselor Education.  I made this move because I have a true passion to see young adults succeed.  I know that having the responsibility of choosing what to study in order to have a life-long successful career can be challenging, I’ve experienced it.  I love taking my stories, both challenges and successes, and using those to help someone else.  This is why I am here supporting Trojan students at UA Little Rock.

Advice to Exploratory Students: Enjoy the collegiate experience, but remember priorities first.  Study! Achieve your goals.  Connect yourself with those in your department (students and professors).  Create or join study groups, there will be times when someone else will understand what you might not understand, and vice versa, for classes.