Graduate Student Spotlight on Infinity Wallace

Infinity Wallace is a first-generation student who will graduate on Dec. 14 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She graduated this past May with a bachelor’s degree in social work, and is currently enrolled in the Master of Social Work program.

Infinity Wallace is a first-generation student who will graduate on Dec. 14 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She graduated this past May with a bachelor’s degree in social work, and is currently enrolled in the Master of Social Work program. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Little Rock and graduated from Hall High School. I have lived in places such as Memphis, Nashville, and New Orleans. I have three sisters on my mom’s side and three brothers on my dad’s side.

Why did you choose UA Little Rock?

It’s complicated. My mom had a drug problem and experienced domestic violence with my dad. I wanted to stay close to home to be near my sisters while my mother and father were in prison. They have since been released. My sisters are now 21, 26, and 30. While my parents were incarcerated, we had to take care of ourselves.

Why did you choose your major?

While growing up, I had a hard time in school and at home and couldn’t make academics a priority. The struggle was even harder for my peers. At least I had my sisters as resources because there wasn’t a lot of help in school. It’s hard to focus on school when you have so many problems with drugs and poverty in the community. 

I wanted to make a change in the world, so I talked to someone in the psychology department from UA Little Rock, and they suggested social work. I took criminal justice electives and learned that people of color are overrepresented in prisons and jails.

What were your favorite courses?

I loved the policy course taught by Dr. Michael Pelts. I learned about policy and how we are all affected by it. Being a first-generation student, I didn’t know about politics and the broader system. This course taught me about policy and how we can affect change. In my juvenile mentor class with Dr. Tusty ten Bensel and Mrs. Raptopoulos, I learned about at-risk youth and the juvenile justice system. In addition to being a mentor, we also got to go to the courthouse and meet with judges.

What activities and work are you involved in?

I write spoken word poetry and performed at events such as the Arkansas Literary Festival. I’m a juvenile mentor in the UA Little Rock Criminal Justice program, a graduate assistant and intern in the School of Social Work, an ILEAD Life Skills Coach at Children International, and a relief hotline advocate at Women and Children First Domestic Violence Shelter.

How would your friends describe you?

Dependable, strong, determined, and caring. I always hear I have a good heart. I get this from my mom.

Who were some of your mentors?

My sisters and several teachers from high school and college. Ms. Diggs at Hall High School and Ms. McAdoo from Central High helped me with my poetry. Dr. Pelts and Dr. Burse at UA Little Rock went the extra mile to help out. Their doors were always open.

What is your favorite memory of UA Little Rock?

When I graduated in May, it was the best memory in my life. I am the first person in my family to get not one but two degrees! I wasn’t going to walk in December since I had already done it in May, but now I’ve changed my mind. My family and friends will all be there.

What do you plan to do after graduation?

I want to stay home, help our community, and maybe work in a juvenile detention center. Some day, I want to run for president! The policy course I took here has inspired me to do so much. My passion was already there, but the policy course cemented it.

What would help our community?

People deserve the resources if they don’t have them. If you haven’t experienced this, you don’t know how severe the pain is. I know from first-hand experience what it is like not to have shelter, food, and clothes. I’ve stayed in every shelter in Little Rock. I want to help all people, such as people of color who are oppressed and over-represented in the criminal justice system. Most people are oblivious and feel they don’t need to act on anything. We need to provide shelter, quality education, employment, and more resources and opportunities to underserved communities. 

What makes you different?

My ability to use my past experiences as a way to make life better. Some of us don’t make it out. God wanted me to make a difference.

Infinity is a great name. Why were you named that?

My mom was being creative and said it was a Christian’s destiny to go to heaven for infinity. My sisters’ names are Heaven, Destiny, and Kristian.

This story was compiled by Toni-Boyer Stewart.

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