In this special series for Women’s History Month, UA Little Rock is profiling women leaders who are making a difference at the university. As president of the UA Little Rock Student Government Association and a senior, Katie Zakrzewski has a busy role representing students on campus and preparing for graduation. As SGA President, Zakrzewski takes seriously her opportunity to show appreciation for UA Little Rock through serving the campus community.
Q. Tell me about yourself.
I’m a senior and Donaghey Scholar, double majoring in criminal justice and anthropology. I work on campus as a computer support specialist for Information Technology Services. I volunteer with Audubon Arkansas’s Solar Energy Campaign, and I’m a volunteer lobbyist with Citizens’ Climate Lobby. I’m also the CEO of Realist Review, a foreign policy newsletter.
Q. What does UA Little Rock mean to you?
When I walk around campus, I feel like I’m walking around a friendly neighborhood. Whoever you meet, whether faculty or staff, they’ll stop and have a conversation with you. They want to know how they can help and encourage you. It is really a special thing. This university facilitates the best opportunities for people to learn and grow.
My parents, while not college graduates themselves, have always emphasized the importance of education and college. I was aware, however, that I couldn’t actually afford to go to college and that my ACT score didn’t help me stand out as a superior candidate. Two prominent schools I considered attending wanted nothing to do with me. I felt as though I was just a number in the system.
Then, one day a recruiter from UA Little Rock came to my high school and told us about the Donaghey Scholars program. It would pay my tuition. It would pay for my housing. It would pay for me to travel and study abroad. As soon as the words came out of the recruiter’s mouth, I made up my mind to apply. Suddenly, I had hope and a focus.
So, I applied to the Donaghey Scholars program and, to my surprise, was actually accepted. UA Little Rock recognized something in me that I hadn’t even recognized in myself yet. They saw my intellectual curiosity, potential, and enthusiasm. So, here I am! Thank you, UA Little Rock!
Q. Why is student government important to the university and its students?
SGA represents the core of our university—the students. SGA is a mechanism to address student concerns and ensure their visions and hopes become concrete. Our students work and study incredibly hard. It is only fair, then, that their needs are met and that they have the best college experience imaginable. It is our job as the SGA to amplify the concerns and desires of students and to ensure that the university’s administration, faculty, and staff know where our students stand.
Q. How has student government been playing an important role in the current academic year?
A primary issue the SGA has been working to address is boosting campus life at UA Little Rock. We want students to feel connected to and in touch with their university.
Positivity is also our focus. When I attend meetings, it is clear that people are feeling stressed about various challenges the institution is facing. So, part of the SGA’s goal for this academic year has been to advance a theme of light in what may appear to be a dark time. We’re coming up with initiatives to thank people, recognize hard work and creativity, and have fun. The reality is that good is taking place in every aspect of the university. Let’s focus our communication on that good.
Q. Is there anything else you would like to add?
To say I am thankful that I came to UA Little Rock is an understatement. The fact is that UA Little Rock put me in a place to succeed that I never would have been before. I owe it to all of the people who have put me where I am right now to do the best I can.