In 2011, Sabrenna Rodgers-Lee was diagnosed with a chronic lung disease.
“There was still so much more in me that I wanted to do before I left this world,” Rodgers-Lee said. “I had all these unfulfilled dreams and desires. I asked the Lord to give me a platform to share my story, and I will share it with everyone.”
The message Rodgers-Lee wants to share with everyone is to “grow, learn, and inspire.”
Rodgers-Lee, director of finance for the College of Social Sciences and Communication at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, is a firm believer in self-improvement through education and professional development and bettering the world through community service. She was recently named president of the Arkansas Council of Women in Higher Education.
“I was always looking for opportunities for professional development while serving on UA Little Rock Staff Senate,” she said. “My heart is with the staff. We need to stay in the cutting edge of our field. We need to keep gaining momentum.”
Ever since she joined UA Little Rock in 2003, the mother of nine has been making the best of both worlds. She earned a bachelor’s degree in finance in 2004, a graduate certificate in management in 2007, and a master’s degree in education in 2015.
Encouraging professional development opportunities for the staff at UA Little Rock has been a passion for her. One way she has done this has been through the Arkansas Council of Women in Higher Education.
Rodgers-Lee was inspired to join the organization after hearing Angela Brenton, a former dean of the UA Little Rock College of Professional Studies, speak at a conference 10 years ago.
“I saw this phenomenal woman speak, and I was so amazed,” Rodgers-Lee said. “I walked away very inspired and knew I wanted to be a leader of ACWHE in the future.”
Rodgers-Lee served as secretary of the organization for three years before she was diagnosed with lung disease. When she came back, she wanted to help women at UA Little Rock get professional development opportunities.
About four years ago, Rodgers-Lee partnered with Dr. Sandra Robertson Greenwood, who retired last year after working for 40 years at UA Little Rock, to continue providing funding for UA Little Rock employees to attend Arkansas Council of Women in Higher Education’s annual conference for free. This year, the Office of the Chancellor paid for 30 people to attend the April conference. More than 35 UA Little Rock employees attended.
As president, Rodgers-Lee plans to focus on providing programming on enrichment and personal and professional development. She is also hoping to bring back the council’s fall conference, which the organization stopped having in recent years.
Outside of the Arkansas Council of Women in Higher Education, Rodgers-Lee encourages staff members to find local activities for professional development, since attending out-of-town conferences can be so expensive.
“Four years ago, I started going to the UA Little Rock Academy of Teaching and Learning Excellence,” she said. “Even though it’s for faculty, staff is invited and can get professional development training. Get involved and find something.”
Outside of UA Little Rock, Rodgers-Lee is an active member of her church, Agape Community Temple of Servants. She has served on the church’s board of trustees, finance team, and choir.
Rodgers-Lee also joined the Otter Creek Women’s Club, where she connected with donors while working on its fundraising committee.
In addition, Rodgers-Lee had her own fitness business. She maintained over 10 fitness certifications, ranging from personal trainer, Pilates, yoga, and Zumba. She started the Zumba fitness program at UA Little Rock and is a member of the university’s wellness committee.
In the end, Rodgers-Lee wants everyone to achieve their dreams, at their own pace.
“People don’t need to rush to achieve their goals and dreams,” she said. “I did it one step at a time with working full time, being married, balancing a chronic lung challenge, having small children, going to school, and serving in the community and through my church.”