It’s hard tobelieve that junior web design and development major Leslie Haller ever found it difficult to find her place at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. As an ambassador for the university’s George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology, it’s hard to miss her on campus today.
However, when Haller, a native of Blue Springs, Missouri, arrived in 2016, she knew no one on campus or in Little Rock and struggled to adapt to life in a new city.
“My greatest challenge to overcome was branching out and accepting change. Moving to Little Rock by myself was a big change for me,” Haller said. “I found myself missing my parents and the life that I had in Blue Springs. There were times that I wished that I could just go back in time and not have to worry about all the changes that comes with becoming an independent adult.”
After visiting the university’s counseling services, she quickly realized that she was living in her own “bubble” and set out to become more involved on campus.
“At first, I had a hard time branching out and finding my place here. There were many different organizations and programs that I could join, but I wasn’t sure which would be the right one for me,” she said. “As an EIT Scholar, I was required to spent a lot of time in the EIT lab. I made a few friends who were EIT Ambassadors and after talking to them, I knew that I wanted to become an ambassador and represent the college.”
Becoming an EIT Ambassador was only the first step in Haller’s journey to truly find her place on campus. In the spring of 2018, she was accepted for an internship at Team SI, a Little Rock- based digital marketing agency, where she continues to build a well-connected network and develop professionally in a city that only recently had still felt new and uncertain. During the fall 2018 semester, she also served as a resident assistant in South Hall after developing a passion for campus leadership.
“Being involved on campus in leadership positions has really taught me a lot about being responsible and helping others,” Haller said. “Juggling school, being an ambassador and RA, and having an internship has not been and will not be easy. I know there will be long nights of hard work, but I believe that the experiences and things that I will learn will all pay off in the end.”
After graduation, she plans to move again, this time equipped with the skills she needs to adapt to change and thrive in a new city.
“I plan to move to a new state and start my career in web design and development after I graduate,” Haller said. “Even though Little Rock has opened many doors for me, I want to have the experience of living in another city and build my life from there. I think it is important to branch out and have new experiences in life instead of settling for the same thing you have always known. It really helps to shape who you are and exposes you to different experiences and lessons that you may not have had if you stayed in one area.”
For any students who feel like they don’t have a place on campus or who may be afraid to reach out for assistance, Haller offers the following advice:
“If I had one piece of advice for anyone, it would be to not be afraid to reach out and go outside of their comfort zone,” Haller said. “Having these opportunities to become involved on campus has given me ways to meet more people and strengthen important life skills. This helped me find my place here, and I’m sure it can help you too.”