Rashad Roberts, a political science major from Osceola, Arkansas, lost his mother to cancer during one of the most pivotal points of his life. He was a senior in high school, contemplating whether he would serve in the U.S. Army or obtain a college degree.
“My mother’s death produced an intense amount of pressure on me to make the right decisions for myself,” Roberts said.
In 2013, Roberts decided to pursue an education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. As an undergraduate, he served as an ambassador in the Chancellor’s Leadership Corps. program and a resident assistant for Campus Living.
“Rashad can be described as a strong leader, determined, hardworking, and a role model to many people across campus,” said Amber Wolf, scholarship coordinator of the CLC program.
Despite Roberts’ initial decision to attend school instead of enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces, he ultimately wound up with a foot on both paths. After completing his first year at UA Little Rock, Roberts enlisted in the U.S. Army as a means to establish himself financially while in school.
“Balancing these two beasts was so difficult,” Roberts said. “I had setbacks in completing my degree in a timely manner due to multiple military assignments and periods of academic suffering.”
Although he often found himself staring at the face of adversity, Roberts made it his mission to emerge from his circumstances triumphant. He was fortunate to have friends and family to encourage and support him along the way.
Robert says that his membership with the Kappa Psi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., his two best friends, Ashton McFarland and Quaylon Estell, and his biggest supporter, Kalan Horton, who was a mentor and a fellow fraternity brother, all gave him the tools he needed to help him stay focused and occupied as a student.
“Since I began working with Rashad in the African American Male Initiative mentorship program and the Brother’s Keeper student organization, he has been nothing short of exemplary in character,” said Horton, UA Little Rock alumnus and Charles W. Donaldson Academies project manager. “Leadership came naturally to him. His strong sense of duty and obligation, coupled with a high intellect set him apart from his peers and he has seen high rates of success in his endeavors as a result. From college freshman, to military man, to political analyst, to Alpha Man, to college graduate, it has been my esteemed honor to support and aid him on this journey.”
Roberts’ journey was not only propelled by loved ones, but also by Dr. Rebecca Glazier, assistant professor of political science. Roberts believes that Glazier is responsible for his college success because she introduced him to different spectrums of thought, which allowed him to flourish not only as a student, but as an individual as well.
Despite the overwhelming amount of support from peers and professors, it was Roberts’ self-motivation that provided the energy and mindset he needed to persevere.
“My desire to give young black boys and girls from my hometown something to look up to is something that drove me to stick things out even when it seemed like it would never happen,” he said.
After Roberts takes his final steps across the stage as a student of UA Little Rock, he plans to pursue a military career while continuing his education in the areas of public service.
“I’ve gained a better understanding of government and politics while studying at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock,” he said. “Over the course of my four years here, I’ve developed an intense passion for the matters of race and humanity, and I will continue to exert those desires into my profession.”
Roberts will receive a bachelor’s degree in political science during the Fall 2017 commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 16, in the UA Little Rock Jack Stephens Center.