For A.J. Walker-Carter, finding the right college, the right major, and the right career seemed like a journey that would never end.
After graduating from Bryant High School in 2009, where she loved working on the school newspaper, she attended Lyon College, the University of Central Arkansas, and beauty school.
“I was an art major, an English major, and a business major, but I wasn’t really happy,” said Walker-Carter, 26, of Alexander. “I was always searching for something to do with my life.”
Walker-Carter began taking classes part time at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2013. Her father, Dr. Jeff Walker, was previously the chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at UA Little Rock. Walker knew the value of higher education and encouraged his daughter to stay in college.
She finally found the right fit with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Rhetoric and Writing. On Saturday she will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in professional and technical writing and a full-time job as a technical writer at Hewlett Packard in Conway.
“I am really thankful for my department,” Walker-Carter said. “I didn’t really have my life on track, and something about the rhetoric and writing department changed that.”
In 2014, two major events occurred in Walker-Carter’s life. First, she met her future wife, Hayley. Second, on her father’s advice, she met with Dr. George Jensen, who was the chair of the Department of Rhetoric and Writing.
“He told me all the different things I could do with a technical writing degree and all the different classes I could take,” she said. “After that meeting, I took Dr. Sally Crisp’s Introduction to Rhetoric class. That was the first semester I got all As and Bs. Each semester I got a little better”
As her college career advanced, Walker-Carter took classes she enjoyed, and her grades improved. She credits her turnaround to supportive professors like Crisp, Dr. Heidi Harris, and Dr. Karen Kuralt.
“I had really awesome professors who understood more of my background and were really supportive of me,” she said. “They took really good care of me since I was working full time and married. I am a transitional student, and UA Little Rock is really good for transitional students.”
After previously only having experience working as a waitress, Walker-Carter gained professional experience through two internships at the UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture and the Clinton Foundation.
In February, she attended a career fair and met with Hewlett Packard. After completing a series of interviews, she started working there May 1.
After celebrating her birthday May 8, Walker-Carter is looking forward to graduating and starting the next phase in her life.
“I found the job that I really wanted 15 days before I graduate, so that is really awesome,” she said. “I am really looking forward to getting into my career. My wife and I are fostering animals, and we would like to foster children in Arkansas.”