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Campaign Dollars Grow Scholars

One of the goals of the “It’s Time for UALR” campaign was to assist Arkansas in attracting high-achieving students by increasing scholarship opportunities. Leigh Wing is one of those deserving students.

Thanks to generous donors, UALR now has more than 2,000 privately funded scholarships awarding $1.1 million annually.

Wing, who began playing violin at age six, is one of those who are already benefiting from funds raised during UALR’s first comprehensive campaign thanks to the Eleanor Orts Francis Scholarship.

When she was a child, her mother would drive her an hour each way from their Idaho potato farm to study at the nearest university. Wing earned a degree at Brigham Young University, majoring in the humanities with an emphasis in Spanish and a minor in music. She was seeking a second degree in music when the birth of her first child put further education plans on hold.

Seventeen years and four children later, the family is back in Arkansas in her husband Carlton’s hometown. She is pursuing a post-baccalaureate degree in music at UALR. While maintaining a 4.0 grade point average and raising a family, Wing plays violin with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

“I came to UALR under the recommendation of Andrew Irving, co-concertmaster for the ASO,” Wing said. “He had been working with me on my talent and recommended I finish my education at UALR and study under Meredith Maddox Hicks. I was familiar with Miss Maddox Hicks’ talent and felt that she could help me grow in my ability and musicianship.”

With the help of the scholarship established by the estate of the late UALR professor Eleanor Orts Francis, Wing can accomplish her long-delayed educational goals. She is on track to receive a post-baccalaureate degree in music in 2013 and has plans to seek a master of music degree.

Francis, who died in 2009 at the age of 96, taught English at UALR for 33 years and was an accomplished violinist, often playing with UALR’s Community Orchestra. Her life’s work and passions live on in the trust she established endowing scholarships in English and music.

Awarded to a full or part-time student who is seeking a degree in music, the Eleanor Orts Francis Scholarship is a renewable award that takes into account academic accomplishment and financial need, with academic accomplishment being the determining factor.

“I am so grateful for the educational opportunity UALR has afforded me. Not only am I growing as an artist, I am connecting with a community of artists in central Arkansas,” she said. “I am so impressed by the quality of the teaching that has helped me to grow as a musician and with the partnerships UALR has forged with the professional music world that have provided me with opportunities to grow as a performer.”

“UALR has been a gateway to more opportunities for me here in Little Rock.”