A veteran of higher education for more than two decades, Collier-Tenison found it surprising to be named an intriguing woman by AY.
“This was a surprise, although it’s fun to think someone might find me intriguing,” she said. “This is certainly outside of my comfort zone, as I am more of a behind the scenes person generally. Even so, it is good for me to step outside of my usual role, especially as an introvert.”
After beginning her career as a teaching fellow, graduate advisor, and assistant professor of social work at the University of Texas at Arlington, Collier-Tenison joined the UA Little Rock School of Social Work as an assistant professor in 2006. While she now spends her days in administrative leadership roles, Collier-Tenison said that working with students has always been the draw to higher education.
“My favorite thing about working in higher education now, as it was then, is working with the students,” she said. “I enjoy teaching and mentoring individuals who are new to the field, and it is especially gratifying to see a student reach an ‘aha’ moment in class when it all (policy/practice) starts to come together. That interaction with students pushes me to continue to grow and I often say it feeds my soul, particularly as I’ve been in primarily administrative roles for so long now.”
Collier-Tenison graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Hendrix College as well as a master’s degree and Ph.D. in social work from Washington University in St. Louis. She was inspired to become a social work professor after working in centers that focused on counseling and women’s programs.
“My second internship in my Master of Social Work program was in student affairs at Washington University in St. Louis, where I split my time between Counseling Services and the Women’s Resource Center, a student-run center,” Collier-Tenison said. “A couple of years and some direct practice experience later, I returned to Wash U for a full-time position as the coordinator of Women’s Programs and Community Service/Women’s Crisis Counselor. I loved the blend of social work and higher education, and it was in this role that I felt called back to earn my doctorate in social work.”
At UA Little Rock, she served as interim dean of CBHHS, interim co-director of the School of Social Work, associate dean of the College of Education and Health Professions, interim chair of the Department of Speech Language Pathology, and interim dean of the College of Education and Health Professions.
With her many years of service in mind, Collier-Tenison shared her advice for how college students can be successful in school and during their careers.
“First, choose a major/profession that speaks to you, that will allow you to grow as a person, and that sets you on the road to a career that suits you,” she said. “Reach out to your professors with questions. Utilize office hours to connect with faculty. Find a cohort of peers that you connect with, whether it is a study group, individuals in your major classes, or people with shared extracurricular interests. Make the most of opportunities to work with a mentor, whether in school or in your chosen profession. While each relationship with a mentor is unique, that support and guidance is invaluable.”
Collier-Tenison lives in Little Rock with her husband and twin sons. An active member of the community, she serves as an executive board member and Race Equity Committee member of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and volunteers at Little Rock Central High School.