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Women to Watch at UA Little Rock 2023: Tabitha Waite

Tabitha Waite
Tabitha Waite

In celebration of Women’s History Month, UA Little Rock is profiling women in leadership positions who are making a difference at the university and in the community.

The next Woman to Watch at UA Little Rock of 2023 is Tabitha Waite. A Donaghey Scholar, Waite has set her sights on a veterinary career. This Jane Goodall admirer is currently analyzing the behavior in captive gorillas at the Little Rock Zoo and what enrichment reveals about their social hierarchy for her final Donaghey project.

Tell us about yourself and your background.

I was born and raised in central Arkansas. My father is from Ohio and my mother is originally from Indonesia, and I have a younger sister who also attends UA Little Rock. I am grateful to be close to all of them and for the opportunities to travel and visit family on my mom’s side. Some activities that I enjoy are traveling, skateboarding, and going to local coffee shops.

I graduated from Bryant High School in 2020. I enjoyed my time there with the same friends I’ve known for years, although it was difficult in the final months because of the pandemic. Later that year, I entered UA Little Rock to pursue a degree in biology. Science has always been my passion, and getting to apply that to my career goals in animal medicine is super exciting.

What brought you to UA Little Rock?

When I was thinking about which colleges to apply to, I preferred something closer to home with financial benefits. My mother attended UA Little Rock around the time I was born, so she suggested checking out this campus. Getting accepted into the Donaghey Scholars Honors Program has also influenced my decision in attending.

What is your major?

My major is Biology (Ecology/Organismal track).

When will you graduate, and what do you plan to do after graduation?

I will graduate in the spring semester of 2024. My goal is to apply to veterinary school, so I’ll most likely be taking a gap year to work in a clinic before then.

What activities are you involved in at UA Little Rock?

Right now I’m a vice president of the BCM student organization. I help organize outreach events and get to connect with students on campus. There is also a pre-vet club soon to come in the future that I will be a part of as well!

What are some of the exciting projects that you are working on at UA Little Rock?

Although not directly on campus, this project is associated with UA Little Rock. It will be my final project presented through the Donaghey program, and will be a field research project conducted at the Little Rock Zoo! The study will analyze behavior in captive gorillas and what enrichment reveals about their social hierarchy.

What woman has inspired you the most and why?

Tabitha Waite
Tabitha Waite

This might be a popular answer, but my mother has always and continues to inspire me the most. She is the hardest worker I know, especially when I was young and she successfully went through nursing school while raising two children. When going through difficult situations, she is incredibly focused and mentally tough. She always looks for opportunities to serve others rather than herself. Her goals in life were to raise her children to love others and grow in faith; no matter what, I can rely on her for anything!

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

One thing that helps me stay calm and focused is to “trust the process.” In other words, take one step at a time. It’s easy to overwhelm yourself with many big goals and to only be focused on the next achievement you’re working for – I’m guilty of it! While it’s good to push yourself, it’s also important to enjoy the process of getting there because time is precious. Things might not always go as planned, but learning to be grateful for my opportunities is a good practice.

Another thing I would like to mention is that representation does matter. I didn’t quite believe this growing up, but its impact does exist. Being able to see someone in your field that you can connect with on any level allows you to gain confidence and see yourself in their shoes. When I was interning at a vet clinic in Thailand, getting to work with many young, female, and Asian doctors was inspiring because I could see their success as a possibility for me too.

Name something about yourself that most people would be surprised to learn.

When I was in high school, I was heavily involved in band! I played flute for concert and piccolo for marching band. I really enjoyed going to competitions and making memories there.

What is your favorite quote and why?

“We have so far to go to realize our human potential for compassion, altruism, and love.” – Jane Goodall

I like this famous quote by Jane Goodall, who is a primatologist and expert on chimpanzees. Her kind heart and love for nature is truly beautiful!