First-year University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service student Connor Flocks is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He entered the Clinton School with public service interests in economic development, voter rights, and mental health.
As a senior at UAF, Flocks was elected Student Body President and was awarded the Senior Honor Citation by the Arkansas Alumni Association, recognizing the top male senior at UAF. As Student Body President, Flocks was a strong advocate for college student voting rights in Washington County and planned a $2.5 million capital campaign project to restore and preserve the campus’s historic senior sidewalk. As a sophomore, he implemented the first Color Those Hogs 5K, a homecoming color run benefiting Full Circle Campus Food Pantry.
Flocks also served as President of the Razorbacks Booster Club, Vice President of Board Development for the Student Alumni Board, and Secretary for Lambda Chi Alpha. He was a category advisor intern for The Hershey Company and Del Monte Foods, and he was a Distinguished Delegate for Model United Nations in Washington, D.C.
As a marketing major who minored in economics, Flocks developed a strong interest in business. Before entering college, he effectively started his own small business – buying, fixing, and selling used cars to help him pay for college.
His experiences in policy and business will play an important role in Flocks’ International Public Service Project. This summer, he will travel to Israel to work with MassChallenge, which works with startup companies to help expand their business knowledge and skills in a competitive forum that grants the winners funding to grow their businesses. In addition to his Clinton School stipend, he will receive funding for the project from Inside IL, a platform that traditionally matches top MBA students with Israeli startups, VCs, and multinational companies.
Multiple Clinton School students have worked with MassChallenge in the past, including Fiona Sloan of Class 12 and Jordan Aibel of Class 5.
I always knew I wanted to go to the University of Arkansas. I just didn’t know how I could afford it. I started buying and selling cars from a very young age. In fact, when it came time to buy my first car I realized, “Hey, I got a good deal on this. If I just fixed it up a little bit, I could flip it and make a profit.” I did so about 26 times in high school, which helped offset my college tuition. I mention that because that’s what initially sparked my interest in entrepreneurship and business in general.
When I got to the University of Arkansas, I studied business. That led to internships at The Hershey Company and Del Monte, which developed into a career opportunity I was then planning to pursue. However, as my senior year ended, I found that my drives, ambitions and, more specifically what I got my fulfillment from, included an alternate path with a bottom line beyond profit. This was due to many things, but especially influences from my time as Student Body President in my final year.
That’s what initially led my interests to pivot to the Clinton School. I still have an interest in business, but more so businesses with a social impact.
How did your Clinton School connections help you with MassChallenge?
That was two-fold. First, Fiona Sloan, of Class 12, did her IPSP with MassChallenge last year. I was originally connected with Fiona through Dean Rutherford when I applied to the Clinton School.
He and I were talking about the opportunities that the Clinton School may provide, and he mentioned how Fiona was pursuing a degree with the Asia School of Business. I was considering pursuing an MBA at the time, so I wanted to talk with her about it. While she and I were talking, she said, “I worked at this awesome company, MassChallenge, in Jerusalem.” I was familiar with the concept of startup accelerators, so my ears perked up. What began as a phone call about the MBA, sparked my interest in the company.
Second, I had already been searching for startup accelerators for my IPSP. Right after my conversation with Fiona took place, we had an IPSP assignment due to Tiffany Jacob on an organization you might be interested in. I conducted my own research on MassChallenge for the assignment. After turning it in, Tiffany asked if I knew Jordan Aibel from Class 5. He currently worked for the company. I reached out to him; we had a Skype call to learn more about everything. Moral of the story, a series of events led to the opportunity, but each linked to Clinton School alumni.
First, I should give credit to Fiona. She is the one who told me that there was this potential extra funding, but she also explained that it only goes to MBA students. But she couldn’t remember the name of the group.
As I was budgeting for IPSP, I began Googling opportunities for extra funding in Israel. Finally, I found this Inside IL website. I clicked on it and started reading about what they do, which is funding MBA students, and thought, “This is what Fiona was telling me about.” The website included a list of companies that they have worked with in the past, and one of them was MassChallenge.
I emailed the company: “I go to the Clinton School and here are my career goals, specifically a mix of both policy and business. That’s why I’m here.” I explained that, from my research and understanding, they traditionally fund MBA students but simply asked if they are open to making exceptions.
Within five minutes, the CEO emailed me back. She wanted to talk on the phone and learn more about the Clinton School and was interested in helping me. She said that they normally only fund MBA students, but that they would be willing to make an exception in my case. Of course I was like, “Yeah, that’d be great!”