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UA Little Rock’s newest student support specialist wants to help students succeed

Gertrude Thompkins
Gertrude Thompkins

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has hired a new student support specialist to provide students with the support and resources they need to succeed in college.

Gertrude Thompkins, who joined UA Little Rock in January, assists in the retention of undergraduate and graduate students at UA Little Rock. She offers support and resources to students, including emotional and mental health, financial stress, academic support, and personal difficulties.

“I’m an alumni, so being back on campus is really nice,” Thompkins said. “I enjoy working with students and helping them.

Thompkins works with existing campus services to provide referral systems for tutoring, mentoring, financial management, counseling, and health services.

“Sometimes students aren’t aware of the Trojan Food Pantry, Counseling Services, and all of the different resources the university offers,” Thompkins said. “I try to relieve any stressors the students are having by connecting them with the resources they need.”

In the future, Thompkins will also determine areas of need and develop and implement early intervention programs, seminars, student workshops, and related activities designed to improve student retention.

Gertrude Thompkins is a social worker on campus for the STEM and CHASSE colleges. Photo by Ben Krain.
Gertrude Thompkins is a social worker on campus for the STEM and CHASSE colleges. Photo by Ben Krain.

“Ms. Thompkins’ addition to the Student Retention Initiatives office has been uplifting for students who face barriers to their student success,” said Heather Reed, director of student retention initiatives. “Ms. Thompkins helps students navigate campus and community resources to give them the assurance and support needed so they can focus on their academics.”

Thompkins is a licensed clinical social worker and a licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor. She is a three-time graduate of UA Little Rock with bachelor’s degrees in business administration and social work as well as a Master of Social Work.

The new position is funded through a Student Success Endowment Fund that will expand and permanently support the university’s student retention and success initiatives. The Student Success Endowment Fund was created through a $25 million anonymous gift the university received in 2020.