Meet Our Recent Graduates

El-Noor Akhter (’18)
Major: English (B.A.)
Minor: Chemistry
Final Project: The Color of Women, A Chapbook of Poetry
What’s Next: “I am starting medical school.”

“Being a Donaghey Scholar was an opportunity I will never forget. I learned what it meant to be a scholar and to struggle through and appreciate my education. Being a scholar changed the way I approached my studies, as well as how I approached lessons in my life. I will never be the same person I was before the program. I know I will continue to take these lessons on my journey in the world.”


McKenzi Baker (’18)
Major: International Studies: Private Sector (B.B.A.)
Final Project: Juntos pero no revueltos: A Comparative Case Study on Alleviating Discrimination
What’s Next: “I will be pursuing a J.D. at Boston University School of Law.”

“The Donaghey Scholars Program taught me the difference between Baroque and Post Modernist Art and Music, the pedagogy of the oppressed, the fine points of evolution, climate change, carbon taxing, the descent of mankind into inequality, and so much more. Because of my experiences here, I’ve developed a taste for art galleries and symphonies, learned what it means to be a conscious citizen, met life-long friends, and even gotten to study in South America, all paid for. No debt. This program has not only challenged me but supported me in so many different ways, carefully shaping my undergraduate career and preparing me for a productive future. I am very thankful.”


Gary Blanks (’18)
Major: Information Science
Final Project: The Helping Hand of the Helping Hand: A Paperless Non-Profit & Working in an IT Field
What’s Next: “I am currently searching for internships to help propel myself into the IT industry. This fall I will be continuing my education at UA Little Rock, pursuing a masters degree in Information Science.”

“The Donaghey Scholars program helped me hone my skills by introducing me to ways to think differently. I’ve been able to see the world in a different light than before and this program helped me put those skills to the test while still helping me develop and learn what I can do in the world to help it become a better place. The ability to see the interconnections between different subjects and how people can bring them together to create astounding ideas and creations is something that this program really focuses on and executes effectively.”

Marina Bobyleva (’18)
Major: Mass Communications: Public Relations and Strategic Communications (B.A)
Minor: Spanish
Final Project: From Glocal Marketing to Glocal Care
What’s Next: “I am gaining experience in public relations and marketing in Little Rock. Next year, I am planning to attend a graduate program in Intercultural Communications at DePaul University.”

“The Donaghey program gave me a chance to earn an undergraduate degree in the United States. I was able to study with a group of bright, motivated, interesting students and explore questions and issues that rarely come up in other classes. The Donaghey classes are thought-provoking and engaging. The program has also given me the ability to travel abroad and expand my knowledge about another country.” 



Madison Christie (’18)
Major: American Sign Language: Educational Interpreting (B.A.)
Final Project:
What’s Next: “This year, I am working as a full-time campus missionary to UA Little Rock, where I have the opportunity to meet and serve university students, share the Gospel, and show the love of God. As an intern with Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, I am receiving intensive theological training in pursuit of ministerial credentials.”

“The Donaghey Scholars Program has been nothing short of life-changing, and has shaped my experience at UA Little Rock. Through the program, I had access to a range of brilliant professors from various disciplines and an equally impressive group of peers in all areas of study. I was challenged to grow in my writing ability, critical thinking skills, and the ways I look at and interact with the world. Along with the academic opportunities, the DSP also gave me a rich community of mentors, peers, and lifelong friends. Because of all the program offered, I was able to pursue an ASL interpreting degree that would have otherwise not been available to me, and to thrive while doing it. When I look back on the things that have made me who I am today, the Donaghey Scholars Program is one of the top things on that list and I would not be where I am without it.”


Natalie Doris (’18)
Major: English (B.A.) and Spanish (B.A.)
Final Project: Shadow Weaver: The Beginning Treatment of a Novel
What’s Next: “Now that I have graduated from UA Little Rock as a Donaghey Scholar and a double major, my next big step is to start Bowen Law School as a Bowen Fellowship Scholar this coming semester. I hope to earn my law degree in the next three years.”

“Thanks to the Donaghey Scholars Program I was able to take advantage of every opportunity to learn about other cultures while traveling and to focus on the things that interested me the most. Through the program I was able to study in four different countries—experiences which have impacted my professional and personal development more than I can begin to explain. I was fortunate to have been accepted into such a proactive community of scholars who pursue a huge variety of interests while all sharing something in common—both a love for learning and the desire to make an impact in our local and global communities.”


Hannah Dorsey (’18)
Major: Anthropology (B.A.)
Final Project: Arboreal vs. Terrestrial Behavior in Captive Great Apes and Effective Exhibit Design for Zoos
What’s Next: “I will be pursuing a masters degree in osteoarchaeology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.”

“This program has given me the unique opportunity to grow as person and as a scholar. I look back on freshman year and have to laugh at how I thought I knew everything. News flash, baby Hannah, you know the very opposite of everything. This program helped me break through naivety, educated me in so many different fields, and taught me to appreciate every opportunity. I cannot express in words how grateful I am to have been a part of it.”

Emily Elam (’18)
Major: Anthropology (B.A.) and Spanish (B.A.)
Final Project: 500 Fiddle Tunes: Transcriptions of Billy Matthews’ Old-Time Archive
What’s Next:  “I am teaching fiddle and banjo lessons, working with high school students in the College Prep Program at World Services for the Blind, and continuing to perform old-time music in the Central Arkansas area in a duo known as the Bow Tanglers and in Mountain View, Arkansas as the fiddler for the Lazy Goat String Band.”

“The Donaghey Scholars Program has helped me to approach my passion of old-time music with an academic perspective. When I came to college, I had little hope that playing the fiddle would ever be more than a hobby. Transcribing and analyzing 500 fiddle tunes for my final project showed me the wealth of culture hidden in the notes.  Now, I look forward to continuing to preserve and share this old-time music with aspiring musicians and academics alike.”


Jamie Forth (’18)
Major: Mass Communications (B.A.)
Minor: Theatre
Final Project: An Option: An Original Screenplay
What’s Next: “My future plans are to tour with my script.”

“The Donaghey Scholars Program meant that I had support and guidance during the most influential part of my life. While we are all very different people, we are all very driven and dedicated, and it was a privilege to be included in such a tight knit and positive cohort.”


Brian Gregory (’18)
Major: Political Science (B.A.)
Final Project: Growing Grace: The Story of Southern Millennials
What’s Next: “I am going to work as a field organizer for Senator Elizabeth Warren in Iowa.”

“The Donaghey Scholars Program provided me with the opportunity to be able to grow intellectually and personally. The directors, the students, everyone associated with programs genuinely cares about each other and they push to see and understand the world differently. I am where I am today in part because of the things that the program has imparted in me. I am forever grateful to Dr. Hawkins, Dr. Scott, and the Donaghey Foundation.” 


Ben Kane (’18)
Major: Computer Science (B.S.)
Final Project: CityInquiry: A Data Driven Real Estate Solution
What’s Next: “I recently accepted a Site Reliability Engineer position at LinkedIn, so I drove to California and I’m enjoying the new sights and work.”

“The Donaghey Scholars Program not only paid for my Bachelor’s degree, but also gave me some of the best classes and friends! As a STEM major, the humanities focus has been unexpectedly gratifying. Among other things, I now have important writing skills, and an appreciation for art, (greek and roman) history, and (cathedral) architecture that really helps me appreciate life. I can’t recommend this program enough.”


Amber McDonald (’18)
Major: Computer Science (B.S.)
Minor: Mathematics
Final Project: Punctual: The Development of an Appointment Reminder Application
What’s Next: “I am currently working as a Production Support Mainframe Application Programmer at Fidelity Information Services. Using COBOL coding language, my job is to analyze issues reported by clients and resolve those issues.”

“This program was everything I never knew I needed. I had the opportunity to interact with some of the most amazing, supportive people I have ever met. I also had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain and take classes that I never would have taken on my own. Thanks so much to the Scholars Program for thrusting me out of my comfort zone and expanding my horizons. I love this program and recommend it every chance I get!”

Rebecca Moreira (’18)
Major: Chemistry (B.S.) and Spanish (B.A.)
Final Project: Novel Renewable Resource-Based Nanocomposites for Removal and Recovery of Phosphates from Contaminated Wastewaters
What’s Next: “I have been accepted to the UAMS College of Medicine class of 2022 and will be pursuing a dual MD/MPH degree.”

“The Donaghey Scholar’s Program helped me identify not only my academic strengths, but also my passions and how I could integrate both into a fulfilling career as a physician. When I needed encouragement, direction, or advice, the program directors and staff were always willing to give me their time. I was particularly drawn to the interdisciplinary coursework and the opportunity to learn about concepts far outside of my own field of study. Through the Donaghey Program, I learned how to approach issues from multiple directions, to back up my own beliefs and viewpoints, and to engage in meaningful, respectful discussion about worldviews different than my own.”


Julie O’Hara (’19)
Major: Political Science (B.A.)
Final Project: The Effects of Elite Discourses on Secessionist Movements
What’s Next: “This August, I started a Ph.D. program in Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Here, I plan to continue the research I started while I was in the Program as I work towards my degree in Comparative European Politics.”

“When I started the Donaghey program, I expected that the biggest benefit I would get from it was that I would not have to take student loans to get my bachelor’s degree. I had not considered how influential it would be to be constantly surrounded by a positive, passionate, hard-working community. The Donaghey Scholars Program not only allowed but encouraged me to pursue my interests. If it were not for the community of support embedded in this program, I might not have realized how I wanted to continue my education or what it would take for me to do so.” 

Lelia Rosenkrans (’18)
Major: Dance Performance (B.F.A.)
Final Project: Fitness, Salivary Biomarkers, and the Modern Dancer’s Perceptions
What’s Next: “After graduation, I am embarking on a series of foreign travels to study dance improvisation in Stolzenhagen, Germany and become certified to teach yoga in Rishikesh, India. When I return, I will do neurology research at Boston University for a year and start medical school at UAMS in 2019.”

“The Donaghey Scholars Program has expanded my mind to think and work in an interdisciplinary fashion, pushing me to seek and find connections between seemingly disparate disciplines. The program believed in my wild dreams of combining the art of dance with chemistry, which eventually led to the conduction of an original research study on stress and metabolic, salivary biomarkers in dancers. Additionally, the generous scholarship has given me the opportunity to volunteer abroad in Karapitiya, Sri Lanka and Tomepampa, Peru and study neuroscience and conduct research at Boston University School of Medicine. This program has encouraged me to achieve things far beyond what I could have imagined before attending college. I am truly thankful for the mentorships, friendships, and personal growth that occurred as a result of being a part of the Donaghey Scholars Program.” 

Zachary Smith (’18)
Major: Mathematics (B.S.)
Final Project: Bottoms Up: A Water Quality Analysis Along the Fourche Creek Bottoms Wetlands
What’s Next: “I’m starting my Master of Science in Mathematical Sciences with an emphasis in Applied Statistics during Fall 2018.  Additionally, I’ll be continuing my research on the impact of urbanization in the Fourche Creek Watershed.”

“The Donaghey Scholars Program was and will always be my home.  Before entering the program, I was very shy, not able to communicate in the world.  Throughout my time in the program, I presented my research at eight conferences and expos, recognized my potential to lead through motivation and empathy, and reestablished my love for people and our planet.  The Donaghey Scholars Program creates strong leaders; they helped cultivate the leader in me that wants to help preserve our waterways.”

Emily Summers (’18)
Major: Anthropology (B.A.) and French (B.A.)
Final Project: Reflections in Stone: A Mortuary Analysis and Digital Archiving of Calvary Cemetery
What’s Next: “I hope to get my Master’s in Public History from UA Little Rock.”

“The Donaghey Scholar’s Program not only challenged me academically, but also gave me the secure foundation I needed to explore my personal interests.  It opened all kinds of doors to intellectual and professional opportunities.  More importantly though, it introduced me to my life-long friends and family.”




Luke Tyhurst (’19)
Major: Information Science (B.S.)
Final Project: Rykos: Interactive Problem Solving for the Modern World
What’s Next: “I am currently a Sales Development Representative at Apptegy and enjoying every minute of my time there. In my free time, I am developing a business focused on mapping global research, news, and social data into an interactive problem-solving platform.”

“Although I did not have the smoothest academic career (switching your major 7 times tends to do that), the Donaghey Scholars Program was always there for me. When I was down, confused, or ready to drop out, I had a community and wonderful directors/assistants to talk to. When things started to look up for me, they were there to congratulate me and cheer me on. The number one thing I received from the Donaghey Scholars program was not the stipend, the full ride, or even the study abroad. It was a family away from home that pushed me to strive for more in my life and to hold onto my passion for making an impact on the world. Because of their emotional, academic, and professional support, I am now able to say that I am financially stable straight out of college and am on a track to making my dreams a reality.”

Miguel Valderrama (’18)
Major: Construction Management (B.S.)
Final Project: Design for a Disaster Relief Shelter Response Modeled on the 2015 Nepal Earthquake
What’s Next: “I will be working at Hart|Cone Construction as an Assistant Project Manager. I hope to get experience as quickly as possible in order to become a greater asset to the company.”

“The Donaghey Scholars Program was what allowed me to move forward with my education as I could not have gone to college otherwise. The program gave me more than just a scholarship, it gave me a medium in which I could expand on my thoughts and it exposed me to different perspectives from a number of people whom I would become very close to. Critical thinking is one of my biggest take aways from the program and it’s a skill that I will be using on a daily basis throughout my career.”

Jack Williamson (’18)
Major: Mechanical Systems Engineering (B.S.) and Finance (B.B.A.)
Minor: Mathematics
Final Project: Designing and Testing the Backpack Weed Trimmer
What’s Next: “Currently I am working as an engineer at Southwest Power Pool (SPP).  I plan on attending graduate school in the next few years.”

“The Scholars Program allowed me to pursue my interests than any other potential scholarship I could’ve attained.  I also have to give the Scholars Program credit for challenging some of my perspectives and beliefs by surrounding me with intelligent discussion and a great set of courses.  I wish everyone could go through the same set of courses Donaghey Scholars go through, because the process forces you to question your beliefs and why you hold them more than any other experience I’ve encountered, and I genuinely think that it makes you a better person.  It helped me accomplish my goals by giving me the tools and the freedom to pursue whatever I wanted.”