It’s not unusual for alumni to show support for their alma mater following graduation.
Many even choose to “pay it forward” by joining their alumni association, which uses a percentage of the dues to invest in additional scholarship funding. But it is a rarity to have a current student pay for a lifetime membership more than a year before he or she is set to graduate.
Such was the case with University of Arkansas at Little Rock undergraduate student Wendy Lyons, 43, of Little Rock. Lyons said she knew exactly what she wanted to do when she realized she had earned enough in scholarships to cover tuition, fees and books. She decided to reinvest in her university.
“It just seemed like the right thing to do,” she said from the lobby of the UALR Student Success Center, where her path to higher education began. “I really appreciate what the Alumni Association does for all the students. They have treated me like a queen, even though I won just a small scholarship from them,” Lyons said.
Lyons’ first success with applying and receiving any kind of scholarship came from the UALR Alumni Association. That $500 scholarship was enough to help pay for all her textbooks, saving her hundreds of dollars.
“From that first scholarship, everything just snowballed,” said Lyons, who spent several months sifting through scholarship applications after she attended an on-campus workshop offered by the UALR Office of Campus Life specifically geared toward non-traditional students. In addition to all her smaller scholarship awards, Lyons eventually was named the 2013 recipient of the $2,500 AT&T War Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded annually to a veteran of any branch of the military enrolling in an accredited college or university in Arkansas.
Because of her military service, Lyons has seen the world. But today, she considers UALR and Little Rock her hometown.
“UALR and Little Rock have been so good to me,” she said. “I love it here.”