Internship helps May grad find new path

Tynesha Ivory had a plan.

The first-generation college student was going to study criminal justice at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock before attending law school to become an attorney.

That was her strategy, anyway.

Then, she discovered a new calling during an internship through the UALR criminal justice program.

As Ivory worked at the Pulaski County Juvenile Detention Facility, she encountered young people who felt marginalized and stereotyped as troublemakers.  

“One thing that they said they wanted was for someone to just listen to them,” Ivory said.

Through that internship, Ivory discovered a passion for counseling and a new direction for her studies.

“This is where I need to be,” Ivory said. “I like to work with people.”

While she earned a criminal justice undergraduate degree, she also added a Spanish major so she could better communicate with members of the Latino and Hispanic populations.

Rather than going to law school after graduation, she worked toward a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling — a journey she completed during the May 14 commencement ceremony.

About a week after the ceremony, Ivory will start her post-graduation job as a vocational counselor in Hot Springs. She will continue her studies with the hope of becoming a licensed professional counselor within the next two years.

Bumps in the road

Ivory faced some difficult decisions on her way to a master’s degree.

One of the biggest challenges involved finances. In order to complete an internship required for her degree, Ivory left a full-time job she enjoyed. She took a graduate assistant position at UALR Counseling Services to help pay the bills, but without a full-time job, her income shrank considerably.

“With her faith in God and enormous heart, Tynesha has pressed through college despite her financial burdens, because she had a dream for herself and believed that God did, too,” said KaBriya Baldwin, a UALR junior and UALR Works student who became friends with Ivory while working with her at Counseling Services.

Leaving her job required a lot of “faith and prayer,” Ivory said.

“Coming from Gurdon, Arkansas, I learned long ago that sometimes you have to sacrifice to get where you’re going, and it was a sacrifice I was willing to make,” she said.

She credited her family, including mom, Charleszetta, and brother, Ta’Quan, as well as her boyfriend, Garrian Lattimore, with supporting her through the process.

On Saturday, they’ll share some special time with Ivory, who expects to be relieved and full of joy during the ceremony.

“It’s definitely going to be a celebration,” Ivory said. “I just hope I don’t fall as I strut my way across that stage and on to life’s new adventures.”


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