When you walk through the halls
and atrium of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Business and Economic Development, which houses the College of Business, you’ll find images capturing student success on its walls — brings a new meaning to “if the walls could talk.”
Among these students are the College of Business Ambassadors. Hand-selected by faculty and enrolled in a course with Dean Jane P. Wayland, these students are highly regarded by their peers, active on campus and in their community, and have some incredible stories. We visited with a few ambassadors for this in depth look into their lives and careers here at the College of Business.
Amy Jo Hall | ¬†Management Information Systems
A mother, a developer, and first-time college student, Amy says her experience at the College of Business exceeded her expectations. “All of them. The MIS degree was everything I wanted,” she said when asked about her favorite courses. And it’s no surprise with the development the program has seen since Amy arrived just after transferring from UACCM, a small community college in her home town Conway, Arkansas.
“UALR was kind of a fluke. I applied everywhere for transfer scholarships, but UALR was the only place that would offer one in the middle of the year,” she said with a laugh. The joke is on the other universities, as Hall is one of the most productive students the College of Business has had the pleasure to teach. Participating in a Microsoft Student Partnership, she’s developed dozens of apps for Windows 8 and Phone marketplaces currently reaching over 12,000 downloads. It’s partly for fun and additionally to raise funds for the new Business Information Systems department. Encouraged by faculty to join a development team, Hall helped to raise $6,500 for the new department.
As an ambassador for the college in its second year of the program, Hall has recognized the benefits the program offers to the participants. “It’s opened me up to communicate with other students in other departments, and exposed me to businesses and organizations in the area that could lead to job opportunities. Most importantly, it’s given me a sense of ownership of the college.” Each student has been given the opportunity to meet with successful businessmen and women in the area. Amy chose to meet with Jennifer Pepper of Aristotle, Inc. from whom she was given career advice and encouragement as she accepts a position at Tyson Foods, Inc. in Northwest Arkansas. She and her husband will move their family of four kids from Conway following graduation to begin a new adventure!
Richard “Gus” Leeper | International Business
Standing six feet-ten inches, Richard “Gus” Leeper is hard to miss walking through the halls of the College of Business. Originally from Austin, Texas, Gus has settled into UALR quite well he’ll tell you. “The overall experience has been great. I’ve made lots of good friends and future business contacts through students and faculty. The events the college hosts and invites me to are always fun,” said Gus.
As an International Business major, Trojans basketball forward and College of Business Ambassador Gus has had the opportunity to get the most out of his college experience. “I did a semester in Mexico, so that’s where I learned to speak Spanish,” he describes when asked how his trip south of the border went. When given the opportunity to meet with businessmen in the city, Gus chose Rush Deacon, CEO and President of Safe Foods, Inc. The business has international ties to various countries throughout the world, so it was a salt-and-pepper meeting for the mentor and student. “Rush really encouraged students to leave the country to work if they’re interested in international business,” Gus remembered.
“Going out of the country is a possibility, but probably down the road,” he said. His experience and degree will apply to any business situation, and Gus plans to start local before venturing out. “It would be ideal to find a company that has ties oversees like Safe Foods, but the home office is in the U.S.”
With offers coming in already, Gus will continue to investigate his opportunities for his future.
Trey Gibeault | Finance
Serving the student body as SGA Vice President, President of the UALR Pi Kappa Alpha Chapter and College of Business Ambassador, Trey knows how to give back to the university. “At a young age, especially in sports, I was taught the value of hard work and the significance of relationships. Joining a frat[ernity] wasn’t a natural choice, but I saw the opportunity with that chapter to make something that this university can be proud of,” he said when asked how he acquired these various leadership roles.
And proud is the right word. Their unmistakable appearance and energy at Trojan basketball games create an atmosphere of intensity and fun for all who attend. Coaches and staff notice it, too. Trojans Men’s Basketball coach, Steve Shields, expects it!
“Our rush class was about 18 guys, and that was three times the amount Pike currently had,” Trey remembers. “It had no clear direction.” Within a year Trey was voted into the Chapter President seat. Since then the fraternity has exploded in growth thanks to Trey’s efforts.
Those efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. As of late November Trey accepted an offer from the Pi Kappa Alpha International headquarters in Memphis, TN where he will serve as a liaison and consultant to chapters across the nation, helping them with recruitment, operations and communicating with alumnus status fraternity members.
For a student making moves across campus, he had great expectations for a program that would bring him closer to his major and college. “I had always been involved outside of the college with fraternity and student government, not directly involved with the College of Business. This was an opportunity for me to do that,” he said. “I enjoyed how willing Dean Wayland was to help. She sat us down and asked, ‘Who do you need to talk to?’ That doesn’t happen everywhere.”
Trey offers this word of advice to upcoming ambassadors: “Be open-minded about different career opportunities. Be willing to learn and take in experiences that people offer. And, ask for advice; the faculty and business people in Little Rock will always help.”