A graduating student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock is about to embark on the journey of a lifetime.
This summer, senior Spanish major Autumn Payne will leave the U.S. for an internship in Slovakia, where she will teach music to teens while pursuing her passion for ministry through mentorship and Bible study.
Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, to American missionaries, Payne grew up in Mexico until moving back to Little Rock, her parents’ hometown, at age 9. Since becoming a student at UA Little Rock, she has developed a passion for service through volunteering as a Spanish teacher at UA Little Rock Children International.
This semester, Payne enrolled in an applied communication course Persuasive Presentations, where she has spent the last few months preparing a policy speech about a proposed law in Massachusetts that would encourage undocumented immigrants to report crimes to law enforcement without the fear of deportation.
“I was wanted to learn more about what life is like for immigrants in the United States and found out through my research that they’re often targets of crime because they have a fear of reporting it,” said Payne. “I came across an act created in Massachusetts, which allows immigrants to report crime without fear and makes communities safer overall because there are less criminals getting away with crimes.”
Over the course of her project, Payne also decided to see if she could get a similar law in the making in Arkansas and got in contact with Rep. Fred Allen.
“Your legislator’s contact info is public information, so I just called him and he was very willing to talk to me. In the end, he was even willing to meet with me about it if I could get a group of people behind me,” Payne said.
After presenting her final speech in April, several of her classmates became interested in following up with Allen and are currently preparing to speak with him.
Through her experience with Persuasive Presentations, Payne learned several valuable lessons.
“What I really learned from this class is how to take information and give it to people in a way that’s easily understandable and motivating,” she said. “Being clear and making sure that you actually guide them through information is extremely important, especially because I want people to actually act on that information.”
After her internship in Slovakia is over, Payne hopes to pursue being a full-time missionary overseas.