A UA Little Rock student and scholarship recipient is looking to use her criminal justice education and experience in law enforcement to make a difference for those in the community.
Nikkita Lambert, a senior criminal justice major, has received the Louie Caudell Rotary Club of Little Rock Scholarship, which was established to honor Lou Caudell, a former chief of the Little Rock Police Department.
“This is the first time I’ve ever received a scholarship for that much, so I am so thankful and grateful for this scholarship,” Lambert said. “It’s going to help me financially by helping me pay for school, and it’s enhancing my chances of graduating and moving on with my endeavors.”
A native of Dumas who now lives in central Arkansas, this 44-year-old single working mother of two sons is truly doing it all. She will finish up her college education that is seven years in the making, while working a full-time job as a data analyst with the Arkansas Department of Public Safety and taking 15 credit hours for her final semester.
“I’ve had associates tell me before that I would never finish college while working and raising kids,” Lambert said. “While it has been tough, when someone says I can’t do something, I work twice as hard to achieve my goal.”
Lambert started her college journey by attending Central Baptist College in Conway in 2016. She later transferred to UA Little Rock in 2018 so she could pursue a criminal justice major. After taking time off during the pandemic, she will graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, an associate of science degree in law enforcement, and a minor in human services.
She’s thankful to Dr. Kilby Raptopoulos, an advanced instructor in criminal justice as well as her academic advisor, for giving her the motivation to never give up on school.
“There is one professor who stands out to me, Kilby Raptopoulos,” Lambert said. “There were times when I wanted to give up, like when I had surgery and when my grandmother was ill, my mother had two surgeries within the same year, and this lady would always call and check on me.”
She already has multiple post-graduation plans, including completing the counselor in training certification program through the Arkansas Substance Abuse Board. The board works to provide training to qualified professionals who will provide treatment using evidence-based practices and research.
In addition to continuing her career with the Arkansas Department of Public Safety, Lambert would eventually like to open businesses in communities that will provide services for people who have been incarcerated, have a history of drug use, have a disability, and are from low-income areas. She would like to provide services such as counseling, transportation to apply for services, and job assistance.
“I want to help people reset, restore, and rehabilitate,” Lambert said. “I want to give them hope and let them know that they can still make a difference in the world. I want to be someone who can provide services for people. I also want to attend a grant writing class at UA Little Rock to help these communities. My degree plan is about giving back to the community.”