As a native of Arkadelphia, Rebecca Ward is drawn to the community-feel that is characteristic of her hometown. She said, “It was the perfect town to grow up in […] we sort of called it an ideal little small town.”
Ward’s involvement with the UALR Alumni Association’s board of directors is due in part, to that same community-feel. She said, “I guess that’s why I’m drawn to things like the Alumni Association. It’s a community, certainly working together for the common goal of helping people, which I love.” This year Ward will serve as president for the board, and her goals and plans are numerous for what promises to be a busy, productive year.
Ward’s journey to the Alumni Association board involves many different scholastic stops. In her own educational experience, she realized how important education is to society. This is partly why Ward is so passionate about working on the board: she said, “Education can be the way for people to get out of their circumstances or improve their circumstances.”
Ward studied at Ouachita Baptist University and received a BA in French, English, and Education. After reading What Do You Say After You Say Hello by Eric Berne, she found herself steering in a new direction. Instead of pursuing teaching English she decided she wanted to study psychology. “I got really seduced and interested in the idea of therapy,” she remembers. And thus, she applied to UALR’s School of Social Work for graduate school. “I thought my education in social work was really, really good,” she said of her experience at UALR.
She kept her fervor for education in mind as she started working in Community Mental Health. “My aim all along was to go into private practice,” she said. “I’m sort of terminally curious of human behavior and the motives thereof. We are an interesting, complex species.”
Currently, Ward is a clinical social worker in private practice in Little Rock. Achieving her dream caused her to look back at the School of Social Work. After discovering that the school did not have any scholarship opportunities for students she became determined to change the situation. She remembers thinking, “We have to change that.”
After meeting with some people in development at UALR, and brainstorming, an event was born. The first fundraiser took place at the Oyster Bar in town and raised nearly 1700 dollars.
Ward, with the help of a board, and close friends, was responsible for continuing the fundraising. She can now say, “that scholarship is endowed and we award scholarships every year from that endeavor.” However, working then on making a difference in the lives of young people really stuck with Ward: “That’s when I got scholarship fever really bad.”
Ward’s fervor is evident in her goals as president of the board of directors. One of them is to continue the good work the board has conducted in terms of scholarships. In the past two years, 100 per cent of the UALR seniors who have received the scholarships have graduated. Ward wants to create enough funds to start giving the scholarships to entering freshmen. She said, “I’m hoping to be able to start the next phase, which would be to start at the beginning now. My dream is to have scholarships all the way through school for people.”
The future of the Association looks bright due to a growing membership. Ward commented, “The last few years have been record breaking in our membership and our events. I think that’s going to continue.” Since Ward has been involved with the Board, a little over a five-year period, membership has grown from 1500 to a little over 2500. “My goal is that we get more than 3000 [members] this year,” she said.
With endless energy, Ward sees the future aimed at giving: “What I see is more endowed scholarships.”
The Board will give away 25 scholarships this year. Ward said with a smile, “In 2013, the sky is going to be the limit as far as I’m concerned, with all we can get done.”
Events such as Burger at Bailey’s, Grad Fest, the Sun Belt Basketball Tournament, and this year’s upcoming signature event, The Taste of Little Rock, are made possible by the help of the UALR Alumni Association. Ward is proud of the strides made by UALR and wants to keep its growth and development on the up-and-up. She said, “These UALR grads at work, when they say things like I got a first-class education, or I got a great education at UALR, I’m thinking they mean it.”
This coming year looks to be positive for the UALR community. Ward captures one of the forces of the association best: “To be able to be in this association with all of the opportunity, I am changing the lives of young people.”