Students in Focus

Teaching and mentoring students is our passion, but don’t just take our word for it…

Current Students

Dylan Wright

Dylan is a Political Science recent graduate (December 2019), who is already making a difference in pursuing his goals of public service. Read about his story here.

Leon Kockaya

Leon is a current Political Science student and was interviewed about his experiences here at UA Little Rock and his plan after he graduates. To read his interview use the link here.

Ryan Bourgoin

Ryan Bourgoin, a Donaghey Scholar student, recently traveled to Cuba and had a very interesting time.Read more about his experiences here.


Brian Gregory

I grew up with an interest in politics, history, economics, and government. I had always wanted to be in politics and I felt, what better way to know what politics is about than to actually learn about and understand it? I had many thoughts of majors entering into college, but politics is what had the most staying power.

What I love most about political science is that more than anything it challenges me to see my world differently. My freshman year I came in as I fire-breathing liberal, practically ignoring all other forms of political thought. But as I have made friends in the political science department, while I disagree with my Republican friends on many issues, I have learned more often to not to respect them, and have agreed with them from time to time. Being a major have given me experiences like attending the Annual Friendship and Dialogue Dinner, which is a celebration of dialogue between different groups of people. I have visited Washington D.C. as part of the Model Arab League program and interacted with talented students not only in the United States but around the world trying to solve issues in the Arab world. I have participated in internships with the Hillary Clinton for America campaign and am now currently an intern at the Arkansas Food Bank.

All of the opportunities I have had and even other opportunities, like going to Africa, have been stoked by studying political science. I have met so many people like Warwick Sabin, Missy Irvin, Laurie Rushing, Joyce Elliot, and Fredrick Love, as well as congressmen and women from the Arkansas Legislature. I have met Governor Asa Hutchinson, U.S. Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman, U.S. Representative French Hill, and former governor and Senator David Pryor. I even had a chance to meet the former Iraqi Ambassador to the United States Lukman Faily. The political science program here at UA Little Rock has given me so many opportunities to meet important people in our state and around the world.

My goal after I finish at UA Little Rock is to achieve a Masters degree in public policy or public administration. After this I would like to work both domestically and internationally in peacemaking and community organizing. Pursuing a political science degree has given me a love for people and a love for wanting to help people live better lives. Hopefully I can make UA Little Rock and this department proud by my efforts, by using the tools learned here and applying it to my work. I look to hold public office one day. Most importantly I want to spend my energy making the world a better place for all people.

-Brian Gregory, Political Science Major

Reteisha Byrd

Reteisha_ByrdThe Master of Public Administration (MPA) program has enabled me to practically apply skills and experiences learned in the classroom to outside situations. With my undergraduate degree in Business Administration, I aspire to leverage components from the public and private sectors to drive ideas and innovation in community and economic development and beyond.

The MPA program has afforded me with many opportunities that I have taken advantage of. A few of those include: being a graduate assistant conducting research on neighborhood governance and community development, receiving a scholarship from the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, attending the NASPAA Student Simulation Competition on Climate Change, interning with the Little Rock Port Authority, in addition to many other networking opportunities.

I will be graduating in December 2016 and have recently started working for Boyette Strategic Advisors as a Research Associate. I also have plans to pursue a PhD in the future in the combined areas of community and economic development.

-Reteisha Byrd, Master of Public Administration Student

Darren Ray Waddles


Being the first in my family to venture into college made my freshman year a bit intimidating, as I had no

idea what I really wanted to do, so I sought some advice from some friends. They knew I had an interest in politics and history in high school, so they suggested trying out an American Government course. I did, and needless to say, I was hooked.

I am now a senior in the Political Science program, and I am so glad that I took my friends’ advice. It isn’t everywhere you can say that the professors enthusiastically engage you, and inspire you to strive for your greatest potential of “the study” and your civic duty. In fact if it wasn’t for the department, I probably wouldn’t be in the positions I am today. Starting off in Prof. Clemmer’s Internship I class, I interned with Arkansas Victory – a campaigning branch of the Republican Party of Arkansas (RPA) — and worked my way up to Deputy-field Director. During the internship I became acquainted with numerous legislators (both state and Congressional), officials (such as Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Speaker Ryan, and Majority Leader McConnell), and lobbyists. These connections helped build my experiences, understanding, and interest in the program. I went on to work as a Staffer in the state legislature for Sen. Missy Thomas Irvin and Rep. Michelle Gray, as well as interning with the main branch of the RPA.

I have stayed engaged in the governmental process and my study, even serving as the youngest delegate for Arkansas at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, OH. I have also served as President of the Political Science Honor Society, and Chapter Chairman of College Republicans. Currently, I serve as the State Chairman of the Arkansas Federation of College Republicans, and I am finishing up my certification in Education as a Student-Teacher in Mountain View High School.

With the experience I have gained through the Political Science Program, I have made it my personal mission to share my knowledge and connections with my students. In addition, I hope to engage and inspire them in the same way that UA Little Rock has shown me, in hopes that they can build upon a bright and better tomorrow for their communities, their state, and their country.

-Darren Ray Waddles, Political Science Major with Minors in Secondary Education and History

Tessie Ebenja

Ebenja_TessieHelping people has always been a big passion for me. From doing community service with my church to becoming an AmeriCorps member, helping people is something I have always known I wanted to do. How could I be of use? Where could I be of use? That was always the question. A love for policy and the gift of gab, as my mentor Becky Rogers calls it, lead me to get a B.A. in Political Science. I begin to work as a grassroots organizer on campaigns, but I did not feel like I was helping people. I decided to go back to school after taking a year off and enrolled in the Master of Public Administration program.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Master of Public Administration program has been quite the journey. Courses like Community Change and Development have shown me just how important social networks are. Through the MPA program, I have created a social network, and not just with my cohorts and alumni of the program. In the spring of 2016, I received an opportunity to go to Portland, Oregon to participate in the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA). There I got to meet other professionals that are in my field. They have provided valuable information on moving into the workforce post-graduation, moving past millennial stereotypes, and moving up in the company. These networks have also allowed me to gain insight on my possible next steps after hearing professional’s personal stories.

I have interned with the City of Little Rock’s Planning Department. I gained employment with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services working with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Unit. I also got to work with the Little Rock Film Festival as the Director of Volunteers. With an MPA I feel I am ready to move into any sector because the degree is so versatile, and because of that, my volunteerism and work portfolio display that as well. While I am still trying to figure out exactly where I fit in, I have gained a deeper love for social policy and am looking into finding employment with the federal government. I do hope to further my education with a Ph. D once I know how I want to impact the community in which I reside.

-Tessie Ebenja, Master of Public Administration Student

Former Students

MiguelI started my freshman year without a declared major, but after taking my American Government class, I switched to a political science major during the middle of the semester. I was hooked. As a political science major I have had the privilege of receiving a rigorous academic training through the curriculum while still getting real world experience through the internship required by the program. I was placed with the Democratic Party of Arkansas where I had incredible access to candidates and was able to help with their campaigns. I even got to meet my idol, President Bill Clinton!My proudest academic achievement is being one out of twenty-five McNair Scholars in the entire university. I credit the UA Little Rock Political Science Department for this achievement. They prepared me academically to be a scholar and their commitment to help their students succeed showed when I asked for letters of recommendation. My goal after finishing my undergraduate degree is to get a PhD in Public Policy and work on Capitol Hill as a policymaker/policy advisor. If someone would have told me freshman year that I would be applying to PhD programs my senior year I would have never believed it, but thanks to the education I have received these past four years with the political science department, I say, bring it on.

–L. Miguel Lopez, Political Science Major and International Studies Minor


I am a senior studying Political Science and International Studies with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. I am incredibly active in the International Simulations Association and have served on the Political Affairs Committee of the National Model Arab League conferences for Sudan and Iraq. Being a part of the Political Science Department here at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has afforded me many excellent opportunities. The department is uniquely seated in the Capitol city and has links to a multitude of organizations. During my junior year I interned for the Arkansas Council of International Visitors and was able to meet with delegations from all over the world.

Most recently, I was elected as President of the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Honor Society. I also serve as Vice Chair to the UA Little Rock Legionnaire Ambassadors and often speak to prospective students about the opportunities available to them within the Political Science department

Following graduation I hope to attend law school and pursue a career as an attorney. I attribute much of my academic success to the faculty of the Political Science department and encourage anyone interested in politics to take even one class within the department. I promise you’ll be hooked!

–Victoria Medina, Double Major in Political Science and International Studies and Middle Eastern Studies Minor


My journey through the UA Little Rock Political Science department has been a little bit different than most. I worked for years managing and advising fine dining restaurants until a terrible virus severely damaged my heart and forced me to undergo a transplant. This near-death experience inspired me to return to school and fulfill my potential as a scholar. Fortunately for me, my chosen major of political science gave me the chance to work with passionate educators that were committed to taking my education beyond the classroom. This was crucial in my particular situation, because the extra support and attention I received helped me acclimate to university life again after many years away.

I decided to take advantage of the Presidential Studies minor. This interdisciplinary minor allowed me to study a wide array of other fields in which I was interested, such as history, public administration, and communications. The department has trained me well as a scholar, consistently afforded me opportunities to practically apply my knowledge in simulations and internships, and supplied me with the resources needed to expand my experiences.

The message to anyone considering this educational route is simple: the people you work with here take a personal interest in helping you realize any scholastic goals you wish to achieve, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll have a great time achieving them! Once you begin taking courses and getting involved in the Political Science and International Studies programs here at UA Little Rock, you will soon see why doing so is a smart decision for those seeking a dynamic, quality education.

–Scott Foster, Political Science Major and Presidential Studies Minor