Culpepper will receive her award at a luncheon honoring her and other award recipients beginning at 11:30 a.m., Friday, May 15, at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library.
Joining her will be the UALR 2015 Presidents Award winner, Martha Stephenson, an award bestowed on individuals with career success and a profound dedication to the university. Also being honored is the winner of this year’s Edward L. Whitbeck Memorial Award, Saad Azam. The award is given to an outstanding graduating senior who has demonstrated excellence in scholarship, leadership, citizenship, and character.
The event is hosted by the UALR Foundation Fund Board and the UALR Alumni Association.
More about the honorees
At PepsiCo Inc., Culpepper served as senior vice president and global diversity and inclusion officer. For the bulk of her career, she worked in human resources for the company, which enabled her to live in major cities around the U. S.
Most recently, she was named Chief People Officer of Golin, a global communications firm with about 700 employees and 34 offices around the world. In her role, Culpepper seeks to cultivate the company’s most important asset, happy and engaged employees.
Culpepper was working full time at a local investment firm when she realized advancing her education would afford her more opportunities. Never one to shy away from hard work, Culpepper enrolled in school full time even as she continued to work.
Upon graduation with a B.A. degree in psychology in 1988, she decided to take a leap and move to California, where she began a career in human resources working for Wells Fargo. While in California, Culpepper pursued graduate school at California State University-Hayward and received her masters degree in public administration with an emphasis in organizational leadership. Most of Culpepper’s family still resides in Little Rock, including her mother whom she says was a tremendous influence.
Stephenson is no stranger to accolades. She graduated from UALR with a bachelor’s degree in history and English in 1972, the same year she was named winner of the Whitbeck Memorial Award. She earned her juris doctorate from the UALR Bowen School of Law in 1978.
Stephenson recently spearheaded the efforts to create a courtyard with benches and extra green space near the UALR Ottenheimer Library in celebration of the Chi Omega Sorority’s 50th anniversary as a chapter. Named the Chi Omega Plaza, Stephenson oversaw fundraising of more than $28,000 for a student sitting area and courtyard. The area will be complete in May, a full year after the 50th anniversary. The landscaping is entering its second phase, and a dedication will be held on May 31.
Stephenson also served on the UALR Foundation Fund board for six years and is an active member of the UALR Alumni Association, recently sponsoring a table at the annual Taste of Little Rock event.The Martha Sawrie Stephenson Endowed Scholarship is held in her honor at UALR. It is awarded to a full-time or part-time student who is a declared major in English, history, or political science.
Azam is only the second Arkansan ever invited back to NASA for multiple internships. Born and raised in Pakistan until he was 14, Azam graduates as a UALR Donaghey Scholar and Science Scholar. Azam interned at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology and has been offered a permanent position after graduation.
He is a double major in chemistry and biology, and he received a NASA Workforce Development Fellowship to intern at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he worked on solid-state electrochemistry and chemical physics. The following year Azam was hired for a second internship where he helped develop rechargeable, high energy, aqueous metal hydride-air batteries for electric vehicles. He will return a third time to continue his work at NASA this summer.
He received a $6,500 statewide undergraduate research fellowship grant from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. His research was published in the Journal of Applied Polymer Science. Winner of the National American Chemical Society chapter award, College of Science leadership award, and Chemistry Department award, Azam and his work have contributed to the future of STEM in Arkansas.