After joining military, finishing degree, grad seek to help at-risk youths

Candace Culbertson

After one year of attending the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2010, Candace Culbertson left to work full time. 

After two years, Culbertson found herself unsatisfied with the line of work and joined the Arkansas Air National Guard in 2013 to get her life back on track.

“During training, I received the discipline, encouragement, and work ethic needed to reintegrate into college,” she said. “Since I have been back, it has opened up many doors, provided ample opportunities, and has led me to being involved in the community. It has provided me something I would not have gotten without coming back to college.”

After returning to UA Little Rock in 2014, Culbertson found a love for community service. She served as treasurer of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and as vice president of the Nonprofit Leadership Student Association.

Culbertson also interned at Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids, a nonprofit organization that gives high-risk students an opportunity to finish high school and attend college, and Women and Children First, a domestic violence shelter.

“I knew I wanted to serve as an advocate, so I wanted to become involved with organizations that would allow me to work with at-risk youth and women dealing with special circumstances,” Culbertson said. “I want to empower the minority population to face their adversaries.”

She will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology with minors in nonprofit leadership studies and criminal justice.

After graduation, Culbertson will attend Airman Leadership School so she can achieve the rank of staff sergeant. In the summer, she will also begin her master’s degree in social and human service at Walden University.

“I owe much of my educational success to the decision made to join the United States Air Force, always keeping a line of our creed in mind, ‘I will NOT fail!’” Culbertson said.

Her ultimate goal is to become an advocate for at-risk youths by opening a group home for teenagers in the foster care system. In addition to giving them a place to live, the home would help teens learn the skills needed for future independent living.

“Growing up in a single parent household in a disadvantaged neighborhood, I felt that I lacked necessary resources needed to properly transition into adulthood,” she said. “Although I have never been in the foster care system, I want to show youth who are underprivileged how they can face their adversaries and succeed in life.”

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