What brought you to UA Little Rock?
I came to UA Little Rock because I wanted to do the early admittance law program in Philosophy and get an early start on law school. The other factor was that I was offered a place in the Donaghey Scholars program. I’ve ended up double majoring in Philosophy & International Studies, but law school was the original plan.
What are highlights of being in the School of Public Affairs?
One of my majors, International Studies, is in the School of Public Affairs. For this major, I took courses in political science, history, nonprofit leadership, and foreign language. My highlight experiences in the School of Public Affairs have been numerous.
The first one was being able to take a “seminar in international peacebuilding” with Dr. Brahm. After that course, the world opened up to me. Dr. Brahm encouraged me to apply for an NSF funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) for the summer of 2018. I didn’t believe I had the capacity, but he did, and he pushed me. I returned to the school from that program with a new skill set and mindset that just made things even better.
I also got to take both of Dr. Giammo’s Internship courses where I grew into a professional. Taking Dr. William’s class on “political parties across democracies” was another highlight. Lastly, traveling to Morocco with Dr. Glazier and to political science conferences with Drs. Brahm, Williams, and Craw were all invaluable experiences. They were very intentional about helping me develop into a strong prospective academic, and they succeeded.
The connections I have made through the School of Public Affairs have been mind-blowing and even endless. I now have friends in over six countries (many of whom are in political or legal affairs) whom I talk to on a regular basis. I’ve been able to sit in a classroom with people from all over the world to seek and devise solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, like combating world hunger or challenges, to the refugee population in the Netherlands and the U.S. I also made friends with a military student, Stephen Wright, who has now gone on to become the field representative for Senator Tom Cotton. I also have a former professor (and now friend) from Belgium that does policy analysis for the European Union.
Additionally, Dr. Giammo and Dr. Leach helped me find an internship with The Confess Project where I got to work with my own community on one of our biggest challenges — destigmatizing the conversation about black men and mental health. Two weeks into the internship, I was asked to come on as a Research and Product Development Consultant in the fall of 2019. I am now celebrating one year with The Confess Project.
In Spring 2020, I started working with Global Ties Arkansas, led by Executive Director Toni Carr. I have recently made friends with eight Ukrainian diplomats, all working in government reform. They are passionate, thoughtful leaders who help me maintain faith that international cooperation really is the best way forward in our world. With the Ukrainians, I have also met the men and women responsible for attracting people around the world to Arkansas, who work in economic development and politics and help create jobs in our state.
What was your relationship with your professors like?
My relationship with my professors in the Department of Philosophy, the School of Public Affairs, and the Donaghey Scholars program are amazing. I use the present tense form of “be” because there is no “were.” These professors care so much about their students and want us to succeed. Several of the professors I have worked with or taken classes from have changed my life. They believed in me when I saw myself as incapable and less than; for that, I will never be able to repay them.
If you could go back and give your younger self advice about going to school here at UA Little Rock, what would you tell yourself?
I would tell myself that it is okay to go to counseling/therapy. Everyone has challenges to overcome in their life, and the UA Little Rock Counseling Services does a wonderful job of accommodating our needs. I would tell myself that one of the barriers to my success would be my own unwillingness to seek help when I needed it.
What would you tell a potential student interested in coming here?
I would tell a potential student not to underestimate the value of the education they would receive at UA Little Rock. There are so many opportunities here – look for them, and take advantage of them!
What is your plan once you graduate?
My plan after graduation is to earn a PhD in Political Science, to be a professor and do research related to transitional justice and international human rights, and to make a difference like my professors have taught me is possible.