Graduating Student Spotlight: Blake Hughes

Blake Hughes

Blake Hughes, a member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Corps (CLC), will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and advertising with a certificate in professional sales. He would like to start his own marketing consulting firm and eventually get his master’s degree in business administration. He also has a knack in placing first in statewide competitions.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m from Bryant, Arkansas, and took college courses while attending high school. Fortunately, these courses were transferrable and allowed me to complete my bachelor’s degree at UA Little Rock in just three years. While in high school, I won a statewide competition, AYAA, with one of my pieces.

I love outdoorsy things such as hiking, camping, and lounging in a hammock. Also, I have a deep interest in astronomy and have my own telescope so I can look at the stars.

Why did you choose UA Little Rock?

At first, I considered majoring in astronomy and looked at Henderson State University and the University of Central Arkansas. But, when I decided to major in marketing, I chose UA Little Rock because they have a great business program. Also, it was convenient for me because it’s only 15 minutes away from Bryant. Little Rock suited me because it’s the state capital and the center of business.

Why did you choose marketing and advertising as your major?

During high school, I worked part-time at an American Eagle outlet store and learned how to merchandise. I positioned items in the entire store all by myself (without a plan) by taking themes and layouts from the company’s other stores. Merchandising and marketing interest me because they blend art and business.

Did you participate in any extracurricular activities while in college?

A good friend of mine encouraged me to join the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) junior board, and from there we created a club on campus. I have struggled with depression and anxiety, and losing one of my good friends to suicide was a wake-up call for me. ASFP’s mission is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. We organized an “Out of the Darkness” walk on campus and got sponsors to raise money. Most of the money raised goes to research, education, and advocacy programs, and only 17% goes to the home office.

I also joined Phi Beta Lambda (the collegiate division of FBLA), where you can build a portfolio of documented accomplishments before you enter the job market. I placed first in the state for the marketing concepts exam.

Who were some of your mentors?

Dr. Casey Rockwell, who taught a business law class, was such an inspiration and recognized the drive in me. Shibani Lal was a peer mentor at CLC and a fellow business major. She helped me select classes, navigate my college career, and was a great listener.

How do you relieve stress?

I love taking my textbooks and reading outside. We are so fortunate to live in Arkansas where so much nature and beauty is only 10 minutes away. One of my favorite places is Two Rivers Park in Little Rock. When I came home to Bryant due to the COVID-19 crisis, it was stressful because I couldn’t go outside as much.

What do you plan to do after graduation?

It’s hard, because I’m a planner, and now we are in a recession, so it’s going to be tough to get a job. I would like to start my own advertising and consulting firm where I could help small businesses. The sales certificate has helped me sell myself. Many of these small businesses have not even registered with Google My Business, so they can respond to customer inquiries.

Eventually, I would like to get my MBA, but I want to get some experience first. During my business law class, I noticed the students who had work experience understood how contracts work due to their life experience.

What advice would you give to an incoming student?

Find a study buddy. Having study buddies provide mental and emotional support. Also, try to be outgoing in classes and don’t be afraid to talk to your professors. Sit close to the front and ask questions. Also, professors usually call on people who sit in the back with the first question.

This story was compiled by Toni Boyer-Stewart.

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