This post was originally published May 2013.
UALR graduation is nearly here! The big day, which we hold twice a year, is the culmination of a long journey that for many students began years ago. For Nick Steele, director of Chancellor’s Leadership Corps here at UALR, that journey began in high school in small-town Hardin, Ark.
A 3.0 GPA student at Sheridan High, Nick was involved in sports, organizations, and service projects. It was his volunteerism that landed him a CLC scholarship to attend UALR.
“I always wanted to attend college and become either a sports broadcaster or a meteorologist. At a young age I would often get in trouble for talking while the teacher conducted class,” Nick said. “My mother would always say, ‘You better one day find a job to use your voice.’”
Use his voice he did, as an on-air personality for Channel 62 News Live at 5. As a radio, TV, film major, Nick was gaining invaluable, real-world skills. But there was more to college than academics.
“I had several mentors and role models I looked up to for guidance who helped push me to keep going. My mother and father both had a bachelor’s and master’s degree. They completed both degrees after having kids. The chair of RTVF department, Dr. David Guerra, or ‘Dr. G’ as we called him, always kept me on task in my major area,” Nick said. “And when I just needed to talk to someone about life in general, I found myself visiting our CLC teacher and Director of Counseling, Mr. Mike Wingfield in Ross Hall on the 4th floor. I also knew whatever I chose to do in life, I wanted to help and have a positive impact on people’s lives as so many of my mentors did.”
Nick discovered what all students do at some point: you must pursue what you are passionate about … chase your bliss. His path is a great example of doing just that.
When you graduated from college, did you know what your next step would be? How did you know?
I worked numerous jobs while trying to finish my college career. I worked in the dairy department at Kroger on Chenal, as a clerk at Hogman’s Hogpen on University, and as a courier and then escrow assistant at Wilson Associates Law Firm.
It was actually during these hard times that I discovered what I truly wanted to do. I began to think back over my years in college and how much I enjoyed my time as a CLC student. I had the opportunity to serve as a sophomore ambassador and work in the Admissions office under the guidance of Keesha. I always enjoyed giving campus tours, talking to prospects over the phone, and assisting with local recruitment fairs. It was an adrenaline rush very similar to my days on camera. Once I completed my degree from UALR, I noticed a job in the paper for an Admissions Recruiter at the Arkansas School for Math, Science, and the Arts (ASMSA). They offered me my first full-time, benefits eligible job.
Commencement is a big moment. But it is just a moment. What should graduates in the Class of 2013 be doing now?
It is a moment but it is also a proud moment. Enjoy your day because it is your day! Family, friends, and mentors will celebrate in this moment with you. During this time and throughout the summer it is all about job search or if you want to attend graduate school. Apply for the jobs that best fit you. Do not lose hope when you receive a rejection letter or you do not get that dream job.
What about graduate school?
When contemplating graduate school, I think you need to ask yourself a question: Will this help me and give me the knowledge I desire to attain my dream job? For some, that answer can be answered with a bachelor’s degree but for many others it takes an advanced degree to get a leg up on the competition. Personally, my graduate school experience was wonderful.
Anything else you’d like to add?
My goal as a member of the UALR team is to help assist students with their transition from high school to college, retain our students, and graduate our students. I want every UALR student to succeed at the highest levels.