UA Little Rock honors Staff Achievement Award winners

Staff Senate President Laura McClellan (left) and Community Service Award Winner Ashia Hall Muhammad

Ashia Hall Muhammad believes helping those in need is her calling. 

Muhammad, assistant director of the McNair Scholars Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, spends more than 500 hours a year volunteering with Jack and Jill of America, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and the Arkansas Council for Women in Higher Education.

For her efforts, Muhammad received the Community Service Award during the April 20 Staff Achievement Awards Ceremony at the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology.

Muhammad was joined by Larry Rhodes, instructional technology specialist for the College of Social Sciences and Communication, who received the Ben Fry Service to UA Little Rock Award, and Victoria Rand, administrative assistant for the Department of Physics and Astronomy, who was the winner of the Personal Growth Award.

The campus community submitted nominations for the Staff Achievement Awards, with an independent judge selecting the winners. Each winner received $1,000. The ceremony also recognized staff members for years of service, graduation, and retirement.

“The achievement awards really highlight the incredible staff at UA Little Rock,” Staff Senate President Laura McClellan said. “Reading the nomination letters is such a source of encouragement. Our staff are dedicated, creative problem-solvers devoted to our students and to the work we all do on campus. It’s been my honor to be on the achievement awards committee.”

This year’s nominees include Jesse Ball, Katie Becker, Deborah Cook, Heyam Dannawi, Shawna Diaz, Trakenya Dobbins, Nihal Erian, Terry Harrison, Darrell Heath, Randy Henslee, Devon Holiman, Kim Jackson, Rachel Jones, Stephanie Jones, Karl Lenser, Meaghan Milliorn, Geoff Nash, Kathy Oliverio, Mia Phillips, Victoria Rand, Andrew Robbins, Andrijana Vukovich, Estelle Wells, Cheryl Wilcox, and Angela Willis.

Lindsay Wheeler and Amber Krum are the recipients of the $250 Staff Senate Scholarship for employees continuing their education at UA Little Rock, while Frances Frazier won the $75 Jerry Crittenden Book Scholarship.

Sodexo, Disability Resource Center, and Mickey’s Cakes and Sweets sponsored the event, which was hosted by the UA Little Rock Staff Senate.

Community Service Award

Muhammad is president of the Greater Little Rock chapter of Jack and Jill of America. In this position, she partnered with St. Mark Baptist Church and Engineering for Kids of Central Arkansas to host a free robotics summer camp for middle school students. From 2014 to 2016, she was on the National Public Relations Committee for Jack and Jill of America, where she developed social media guidelines and marketing and branding campaigns for the organization.

With Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Muhammad is part of a team that meets with 40 local high school students every month to provide workshops on college, career exploration, community service, and environmental ownership.

She believes it’s important to foster community service in the next generation. In the past year, Muhammad and the high school students she mentors organized a college fair, made blankets for the homeless and fed them, and cleaned up a local park.

Muhammad is the president of the Arkansas Council for Women in Higher Education, where she has served on the executive committee for six years.

Marty Mayfield, fiscal support analyst in the Academic Success Center, nominated Muhammad for the award.

Ben Fry Service to UA Little Rock

Staff Senate President Laura McClellan (left) and Ben Fry Service to UA Little Rock Award Winner Larry Rhodes (right)
Staff Senate President Laura McClellan (left) and Ben Fry Service to UA Little Rock Award Winner Larry Rhodes (right)

Rhodes is described as a dedicated and invaluable staff member. In addition to his regular duties, Rhodes serves on the university-wide technology initiative and as the photographer and graphic designer for the College of Social Sciences and Communication. His work greatly increased the profile of the college.

“It is difficult to capture Larry’s commitment to UA Little Rock and this college in words,” wrote Dean Lisa Bond-Maupin, one of two people who nominated Rhodes for the award. “It does not seem enough to say that he is by far the most dedicated employee I have encountered in 25 years of higher education.”

“Larry’s day-to-day mode of operations is to exceed expectations, continuously improve, show kindness, and contribute where he is needed most,” Bond-Maupin wrote. “He is a wonderful, warm UA Little Rock community member known to volunteer to take wedding or family photos for a strapped colleague.”

Rhodes also put his photography skills to use while serving as a chaperone for a group of 15 students who traveled to Morocco in November 2016 to attend the International Model Arab League.

“Larry was not only an excellent traveling companion; he turned out to be an incredible photographer,” wrote Dr. Rebecca Glazier, who also nominated Rhodes for the award. “The students documented our travels through a blog, and Larry provided most of the pictures. When we got back to Little Rock, the students were able to share their adventures with the community through a public event that prominently featured Larry’s photographs.”

Personal Growth Award

Staff Senate President Laura McClellan (left) and Personal Growth Award Winner Victoria Rand (right)
Staff Senate President Laura McClellan (left) and Personal Growth Award Winner Victoria Rand (right)

Rand is described as an independent, hardworking employee who strives to learn new things.

Haydar Al-Shukri, interim chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, nominated Rand for the award.

“She is a brilliant woman, with the ability to grasp complex ideas and find practical solutions to difficult problems in the shortest possible time,” Al-Shukri wrote. “Throughout her work at the department, she expressed the ability of independently conducting scientific study. She is invariably pleasant, polite, and professional, but she is tenacious and aggressive in going to the heart of any project she works on.”

In the upper right photo, Staff Senate President Laura McClellan (left) honors Community Service Award Winner Ashia Hall Muhammad (right). 

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