- Prospective Students
- Faculty & Staff
- Make a Gift
Central High School’s Memory Project students, the National Park Service, the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and other community leaders have combined to begin work on a commemorative bench to honor Little Rock Nine member Elizabeth Eckford
The bench will be a replica of the original that Eckford retreated to on Sept. 4, 1957, when the National Guard blocked the Little Rock Nine from desegregating Central High School. Eckford’s heckling by a mob, both on the way to school and as she sat on the bench, were captured in iconic photographs.
The photograph of 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford walking alone through a hostile mob at Central High in 1957 remains one of the most memorable moments of the civil rights movement and in Arkansas history.
As part of the project, a mobile app will be developed for the students’ audio walking tour of eyewitness accounts, which the Memory Project has been compiling. Students and partners will also develop a StoryCorps recording booth for interviews and student podcasts. Signage and landscaping will also be part of the project.
To support the project, make a tax-deductible check payable to the Central High Museum, Inc., and mail to:
Little Rock Central National Historic Site
2120 Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive
Little Rock, AR 72202
Partners in the project include the Bullock Temple C.M.E; Central High and its East Lab; the Little Rock School District; the city of Little Rock; the Central Arkansas Library System’s Butler Center for Arkansas Studies; the Good Earth Garden Center; Friends of Central High Museum Inc., Home Depot, Little Rock Club 99 and other Rotary Clubs; Pam Brown Courtney and Dr. Willis Courtney, the Clinton School of Public Service; Unity in the Community; and others.
Beth Quarles is a first-year student at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. A graduate of Lipscomb University, Quarles earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and her master’s degree in teaching English language learners and instructional leadership.
Quarles has spent more than a decade working in education. Upon completion of her undergraduate work, Quarles spent two years teaching English and American culture at Three Gorges University in Yichang, China. In addition to her time in China, Quarles taught at elementary schools in Nashville, Tenn., and Jonesboro, Ark., before coming to the Clinton School.
Along with three other first-year students, Quarles spent the 2017-18 academic year working on a Practicum project with the Hope Academy of Public Service, assessing the impact of a middle school public service curriculum.
This summer, Quarles will work with Girl Scouts Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas as a placement specialist. She will focus on developing partnerships within the Hispanic community. Quarles will work to recruit volunteers and girls to springboard into a Girl Scout program in the Hispanic community. She will also be involved with direct programming for the girls, working on community cultivation, and providing support to current members.
How did you become an instructor at Three Gorges University?
At Lipscomb University, the college I attended, one of my professors was trying to set up a partnership between a Chinese university and Lipscomb so that students and faculty could go back and forth for an exchange program.
A group of friends and I – there were four of us – were going to move to China together, and we were going to work at this university. And the Chinese university was going to send four teachers to Lipscomb to teach. At the last minute, that didn’t work out. But, there’s an organization called China Now that does a lot of mission work in China, which set us up with a university in China – Three Gorges – and we were able to teach there.
A lot of it was just correcting stereotypes. A lot of students thought that all Americans owned jets. China has a tiered university system, so how well the students did on their entrance exam determined where they were placed or limited their choices.
A lot of the students that attended Three Gorges came from a country background. The only experience that they ever had with American culture was from movies. Anything that they had seen in movies was what they thought American lives were like. A lot of it was just showing that we aren’t that different.
What has your experience with Hope Schools been like based on your service interest in education?
I really enjoyed it. I have taught for 10 years. I was an elementary school teacher. When I came to the Clinton School and we had the list of practicum topics, I went back and forth – I didn’t know if I wanted to do something in the education field, because I’ve had so much experience in that. I wasn’t sure if it was my top choice. But I’m so grateful it was, because I really do find myself missing the classroom more than I ever could have thought.
It was really nice to be in the school once a week. It’s really neat to see the Clinton School framework applied in a middle school setting. That’s something I’ve never gotten to see before. The fact that kids are talking about big issues that I know I never talked about when I was in middle school. It is really cool to see these students thinking bigger than themselves. The whole community is really dedicated to making it a really good experience for the students. It’s really encouraging, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.
After I finished undergrad, I went to China for two years. Then, I started working for Metro Nashville Schools at Una Elementary. I taught fourth-grade ESL for two years. All of my students were non-native English speakers. I was also a literacy coach and family engagement specialist. I set up a parent center at our elementary school. I ran Title I budgets for our school.
When I was 24, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I took a year off and ran a bed and breakfast, because that was a lifelong dream. I really live by my dreams; I’m not putting dreams off. I did that for a year, then went back to the same school in Nashville and taught first grade. Then, I moved to Jonesboro, Ark., where I taught three years for the Nettleton School District. I taught first grade there, as well.
When teaching ESL students, what is a useful skill that people wouldn’t expect?
This sounds a little silly, but hospitality. When I lived in China, everyone had me to their home. All of the students wanted me to come home with them and have a meal with them. I felt like a lot of the families of my ESL students, when they moved to the United States, didn’t have that same hospitality and it really showed. They closed themselves off to some degree. They weren’t as involved in school and school family nights. I don’t think that they necessarily felt welcome.
When I became an ESL teacher, a lot of parents would relate to me. I would talk about my experience in China, and that I knew what it felt like to be an outsider. They really started opening up. Then, I would have class family nights where we would have potlucks. I would have things just for my classroom, so parents could get to feel more comfortable and hopefully that would carry over into school-wide events. Hospitality goes really far. Even if you can’t speak the same language, you can at least share a meal together. It’s amazing what doors open from that, just sharing a meal.
Tell us about your role with Girl Scouts Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
I work there part-time currently. Right now, I’m a placement specialist, so when someone calls to sign their daughter up, I fill a spot based on what troops have spots open. They are really wanting to get more involved in Hispanic communities, specifically through setting up troops for Spanish speakers and finding ways for their mothers to get involved. I’ll be working a lot in northwest Arkansas but will be based here in Little Rock. We’ll be working to create community partners, hopefully with churches. Hopefully those partnerships will springboard into recruiting more volunteers and more girls for Girl Scouts.
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!”
First-year Clinton School student Dylan Edgell looks forward to furthering his business and entrepreneurial experiences this summer when he travels to Ollantatytambo, Peru, for his International Public Service Project with Awamaki.
Edgell’s public service interests include economic development and entrepreneurship, which will both be put to use this summer. Awamaki is a nonprofit that helps Peruvian women start and run their own businesses, investing in their skills and leadership while connecting them to global markets.
Edgell will be a part of Awamaki’s monitoring and evaluation team, measuring the social and economic impact of businesses on the community. Edgell will also be analyzing sales data and helping women develop business skills.
In addition to Edgell, first-year students Mark Cameron and Sara Swisher will be working with Awamaki this summer. Cameron is set to organize and carry out focus groups, surveys and workshops for Awamaki’s women’s economic empowerment project. Swisher will also be involved with focus groups and interviews to contribute to the program’s annual evaluation report.
Edgell graduated from Arkansas Tech University as a double major in economics and finance and management and marketing. He served as president of the largest student group on campus, Enactus, an entrepreneurial club organized through the university’s college of business.
In addition to his education and experience with Enactus, Edgell interned with U.S. Representative Steve Womack before working with Dillard’s, Inc., as an assistant buyer.
Can you describe your experience as an intern with the United States House of Representatives?
It was in the summer of 2015, and I was with Congressman Steve Womack of the third congressional district of Arkansas. I mainly answered telephone calls from constituents and gave tours of the U.S. Capitol to Arkansans coming into Washington D.C. I was also able to sit in on some hearings and take notes for our legislative correspondents, who would then use those notes to inform the congressmen and make decisions on policies.
The Arkansas Fellowship was an entrepreneurial fellowship. Through the fellowship, you interview for jobs with Arkansas-based companies. I was placed at Dillard’s as a corporate assistant buyer. With the fellowship, we were able to travel around the state and visit startups and hear from people who are business leaders in Arkansas and in the startup scene. It was really cool to see that side of the business. I’ve mainly seen larger companies, so it was cool to see the smaller side.
Tell us about your IPSP. Did your previous experiences play a role in your choice of IPSP? And if so, what was that like?
I’ll be going to Peru – Ollantaytambo, Peru, with Awamaki. I’ll be measuring their social and economic impact and working with their sales team to give them recommendations about how they can improve.
It was definitely connected. I have a passion for economic development and entrepreneurship, and that’s kind of why I chose the Arkansas Fellowship after I graduated. My time at Dillard’s gave me a lot of experience in retail, sales and analysis, which is basically what I’ll be doing with Awamaki. I’ll be analyzing their sales, and that’s directly from Dillard’s. With the fellowship we learned a lot about entrepreneurship, and Awamaki works with women to help them set up small businesses and develop business skills. So yes, it’s directly connected.
Did your degrees in finance and economics influence your interests in public service?
I was in economics-finance and management-marketing, and I was also the president of the entrepreneurship club at Arkansas Tech. It was called Enactus, and we designed community service projects with a business mindset and implemented them into the community. That’s where the spark for public service started. Also, with economics I learned a lot about policies that help underserved people. I took a class called economics of labor relations that focused on a community development plan for Russellville, which is where Arkansas Tech is located. There are a few experiences that I was exposed to that led me to public service.
Can you give some examples of the types of community service projects, created by the entrepreneurship group you were a part of, that had a business mentality?
There was a women’s economic empowerment project where we got nontraditional students at Arkansas Tech, and we gave them workshops on resume building and different business skills. There was also a project where we consulted a small business. We worked with them and helped them improve their processes from what we learned in class. We had some general things like canned food drives and electronic waste drives, where we collected six tons of electronic waste. There were a few different projects in different areas.
Part of it is because it’s in Little Rock. I’m from Arkansas and want to stay in Arkansas; it was a really good location for me. I had a few friends that went to school here – Hunter Mullins of Class 9 and Claire Hodgson of Class 11 – both from Arkansas Tech. I followed them on social media and saw that they were doing really cool stuff. After I worked at Dillard’s for a little over a year, I wanted to transition into the nonprofit world and thought that the Clinton School would be a really good way to do that.
The Shannon Butler Bridge Builder Award, recognized as the school’s top honor, went to Rebecca Ajyei. The award is named in honor of then-Clinton Foundation Deputy Director Shannon Butler, who played a key role in the opening of the Clinton School and Clinton Presidential Center.
The award is presented to a member of the graduating class who has displayed collaborative leadership skills and exemplifies the spirit of bringing people together and comes with a $1,500 award. Presented since 2008, previous winners are listed below.
Darlynton Adegor was announced as the recipient of the Dr. Tom Bruce International Student Prize. Established by the late founding Clinton School Academic Dean Tom Bruce, the award goes to a graduating student from outside the United States who has visibly contributed to world peace during their time at the Clinton School.
A graduate of Lagos State University and the Nigerian Law School, Adegor has been working with the Washington D.C.-based Syrian Emergency Task Force since June 2017. In addition to creating a community engagement program and strategy for SETF, Adegor drafted a memorandum of understanding between a German prosecutor, who had opened investigations of international crimes in Syria, and the individuals responsible for bringing evidence to court.
Brandon Treviño, a concurrent student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law was announced as the recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.
Established in collaboration with the Sullivan Foundation and organized by former director of field service education Marie Lindquist, this award goes to the graduating student who best serves others. The selection committee is comprised of three first-year students appointed by the first-year class representative.
More than 70 colleges and universities across the country present this award, named for New York lawyer, civic leader, and philanthropist Algernon Sydney Sullivan.
The academic award, voted on by Clinton School faculty, was presented to Hannah Bahn. Bahn completed her Capstone project at the Thaden School in Bentonville Ark., where she identified best practices for community-based learning in secondary school settings and developed a set of recommendations. She will join the faculty at Thaden upon graduation.
Previous Shannon Butler Bridge Builder Award Winners
2008: Julie Gehrki
2009: J.D. Lowery
2010: Harvell Howard
2011: Lindsey Johnson
2012: Anatoliy Shatkovskyy
2013: Andrea Price
2014: Allie Rouse
2015: Brandon Mathews
2016: Ashley-Brooke Moses
2017: Thurman Green
As part of adjunct professor Terry Mazany’s Social Entrepreneurship class, four University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service students recently created a business plan for a new concept for a full-service casual dining restaurant in Little Rock. The plan culminated with Wednesday’s presentation at The Venture Center in Little Rock.
Reggie Ballard, Christine McCall, Nick Stevens, and Karen Zuccardi worked together to create the plan for LINX Bistro, a restaurant with a mission to employ formerly incarcerated men and women and provide them with the professional work and life skills needed to reintegrate into society.
“Each of the students in the class had identified a social challenge and had developed a social enterprise to tackle that challenge,” Mazany said. “After they developed those prototypes, for the last third of the semester they deliberated and decided they would support the restaurant idea, and from there it took another round of development to create a business plan.”
The social challenge and business solution came from McCall. She attended college and lived in Boston where Haley House, a non-profit with a similar mission to LINX Bistro, has thrived for more than 50 years.
“If you have a cool restaurant, like Haley House, with artwork on the walls, musicians who visit, programs for kids, you’re going to have different people come in because that’s the place to be. That’s the meeting place, the melting pot,” McCall said. “It’s called LINX Bistro because we want to link different people and communities together.”
The first step in the process was to document the need. In this case, it was necessary to see what was already being done in terms of services being offered to address the challenges of recidivism. Thirty-two percent of individuals released from prison in Arkansas will return within a year. Formerly incarcerated individuals often struggle to find work and reintegrate into normal society and community life.
Next, the students researched similar enterprises and conducted interviews. The group reached out to other restaurants with similar business models, including Café Reconcile in New Orleans, La., and Haley House Bakery Café in Boston, Mass. Clinton School alum Jordan Butler, who is currently in the planning phases of Refill Café in Jackson, Miss., also offered advice.
The students interviewed individuals who could benefit from these services, including potential employees and customers. This process led to a clear profile of the need, workforce, and the customers of the restaurant. From there, a marketing plan and budget were built.
“It was intentionally structured to be a real business plan,” Mazany said. “It was designed to be pretty close to something that you could use as the basis for the proposal to a foundation.”
Partnerships with employee recruitment and training were identified. Organizational structures and financial projections were set. Different areas of Little Rock were scouted as potential locations, including University Plaza, Main Street, and West 12th Street.
“Looking at Haley House, Refill or Reconcile, the purpose of these places is to represent the community,” McCall said. “The people working there, we want them to feel comfortable. And the customers, we want them to come to a neighborhood and connect with people that they might not see or interact with on a daily basis. We want to link people together and provide a space where everyone feels like a part of the family.”
Finally, the plan included a menu, complete with starters, entrees, and desserts featuring healthy twists on American classics. The team even offered one menu item – Grandma’s Bread – at Wednesday’s presentation.
“LINX Bistro’s concept is all about nurturing fresh options, for your personal life, for your professional life, and the community at-large and linking all of those together, “ McCall said.
“The presentation went fabulous,” Mazany said.
A six-month economic impact analysis conducted in conjunction with the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service recently found that members of The Venture Center have created an additional 192 jobs within the previous year, an increase of 43 percent, resulting in 637 total jobs created by members since The Venture Center’s founding in 2014.
In addition to the 43 percent annual increase in jobs created by members, this study also found that entrepreneurs who interact with The Venture Center on a daily or weekly basis have created more jobs and have a higher total capital raise. Data revealed that The Venture Center’s member startups have raised $57 million dollars to date—$18 million more than the total capital raised since May 2017.
Second-year student Ross Owyoung partnered with The Venture Center to determine the economic impact of The Venture Center’s programming on entrepreneurism in central Arkansas. Owyoung began this project in September 2017 by reviewing literature to identify the most important variables for conducting a statistical analysis on economic growth. He used interviews and surveys to capture the financial statistics and business profiles of entrepreneurs with a membership at The Venture Center. These member statistics were compared internally and externally to local and statewide regional data and recent economic trends to see how The Venture Center affected economic growth.
The final report for this project will be published this summer on The Venture Center’s website.
About the Clinton School of Public Service
The Clinton School of Public Service is the first school in the U.S. to offer a Master of Public Service (MPS) degree. A two-year graduate program with a “real world” curriculum, the Clinton School is located on the grounds of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Arkansas.
For more information on the Clinton School of Public Service, please visit: ClintonSchool.uasys.edu
About The Venture Center
The Venture Center is a non-profit organization that helps entrepreneurs turn their startups into viable, high-growth businesses. By leveraging the expertise of a world-class team of mentors, intensive programming and introductions to the investor community, The Venture Center serves as an engine for economic growth in Central Arkansas and beyond.
For more information on The Venture Center, please visit: VentureCenter.co.
May 2018 graduate Andrew Treviño (Class 12) will start a full-time position as an opioid treatment policy coordinator with the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Behavioral Health Services.
May 2018 graduate Madeleine Chaisson (Class 12) accepted a position as a career pathways specialist at the International Rescue Committee in Dallas, Texas.
May 2018 graduate Megan Kurten (Class 12) was accepted into the political science Ph.D. program at American University in Washington, D.C.
May 2018 graduate Nick Stevens (Class 12) accepted a position as a data monitoring, evaluation and learning coordinator for Children International at UA Little Rock.
May 2018 graduate Emilie Street (Class 12) will start a position as outreach coordinator for Give and Surf in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
Khalid Ahmadzai (Class 11) will relocate from Kabul, Afghanistan, to Fayetteville, Ark., to become director of employment and integration for Canopy NWA, a refugee resettlement organization.
Gralon Johnson (Class 5) delivered the keynote speech for the Founders and Honors Awards Convocation at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, his undergraduate alma mater. Johnson earned a Ph.D. in human ecology from Kansas State University and is currently a University Innovation Alliance Fellow at Iowa State University.
A first-year student at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, Marina Giannirakis was recognized for her exceptional service efforts as an undergraduate at John Carroll University.
Giannirakis was the recipient of JCU’s Campion Service Award as a junior in 2016. With service activities that included We the People – a program that taught fourth-grade students about the constitution and featured a mock congressional hearing – and the Carroll Reads Literacy Program – a tutoring program aimed at helping children refine reading and math skills – Giannirakis’ service experience was broad and unique.
“The Campion Award is given every year at JCU, usually to two students, and it’s for students that have been really involved in service projects or social action on campus,” Giannirakis said. “I was really excited to win.”
She was one of eight students selected to serve on the JCU Center for Service and Social Action Student Leadership Team. Her work with the Center for Service and Social Action afforded her a place on the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, which ultimately set her on her path to the Clinton School.
The Consortium placed her in the Arkansas Delta for an eight-week internship at a legal aid clinic. Based in Helena, Ark., the clinic worked to research cases on social security and disability issues for people living in impoverished areas. It was during this time in Arkansas that she first heard about the Clinton School.
“People always think it’s funny that I ended up back here in Arkansas,” Giannirakis said. “But I’m just very fortunate for the people I’ve had the chance to meet, including other students in class.”
Her interests in women’s rights connect her various service experiences, from working workshops in an adult women’s prison as an undergraduate to her upcoming International Public Service Project that will take her to Hanoi, Vietnam, to work with an organization whose efforts include female workers’ rights.
Additionally, Giannirakis was recently announced as one of two new McLarty Vital Voices Scholars from the Clinton School for the 2018-19 academic year. She will be in Washington, D.C., for a semester-long fellowship with Vital Voices Global Partnership, an organization that works with women leaders in the areas of economic empowerment, women’s political participation, and human rights.
“I’m super excited about it,” Giannirakis said. “I’ll be doing some work analyzing the connections between the different women leaders around the world and sort of highlighting their stories. I’m pumped about that.”
What brought you to the Clinton School?
About three years ago I was part of a poverty-based studies internship program at my university. You applied to the program and then you were randomly dispersed around the United States, and I was put in Helena, Arkansas. It was somewhere I had never been. I worked at a legal aid clinic there and it was an amazing experience.
One weekend, we came to Little Rock for a conference, we had some meetings, and one of the things we did was tour the Clinton School. We talked to Dean Rutherford and Alex Thomas. It had a very lasting impression on me. That was kind of my journey.
I was involved in a lot of social justice initiatives and projects in my undergrad, and I just kind of saw the Clinton School as a continuous next step.
Outside of work, one of the biggest things, at least for myself, was – we didn’t have WiFi or cable – so we would just walk around the town and try to find stuff to do. We found ways to get involved. There was a farmer’s market every Saturday. We started volunteering for the Helena Second Saturday festival.
One of the women who worked at the UAMS Delta Health Education Center, where two of my roommates were working, got us involved in going to their exercise classes where they had water aerobics classes at the community pool. It was just us and all these older women. We went to their Zumba classes. The women in the community were amazing when it came to getting us involved.
What do your public service interests stem from?
My service and my faith life have always been tied together. From a young age, my sister and I did small-scale things like volunteering at a food shelter or a food pantry, which were sometimes tied with our church, or just something our family did.
My sister and I went to John Carroll University. It’s a Jesuit Catholic University, so a large focus is social justice and human rights. That suddenly became a focus, and I was only looking at Jesuit schools.
There’s a specific scholars program at John Carroll that focuses on social justice. When I got into the program, that jumpstarted my interest and really let me dig deeper into why I wanted to do something with public service. I can’t talk enough about their Center for Service and Social Action. I worked there all four years. We had amazing partnerships with organizations in the Cleveland community, working on human rights issues, women’s issues, juvenile issues, refugee rights.
It just let me explore and see what I really wanted to focus on and what I was passionate about. That helped lead me to where I am now. I’m very fortunate for that.
Do you know what you want to do for your IPSP?
I’m going to Vietnam to work with The Asia Foundation. I’ll be in Hanoi, Vietnam. That’s going to fit really well within the social network analysis I’ll be doing with Vital Voices in the fall, making connections between the women fellows around the world. Are they connected? When? How? Why? And is the support Vital Voices has given these women making a difference? Are the women taking advantage of these connections?
It’s crazy, through my research, seeing who some of the current fellows are. President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, who came to speak at the Clinton School, is involved with their fellows, which I thought was really cool. They have so many amazing women around the world doing great, great work.
What’s been the most surprising thing about the Clinton School for you so far?
I would say the most surprising thing has been the connections within the Speaker Series. Before I came here, I knew a little bit about the Speaker Series, but I really didn’t know what it was. I started going and really realized how much of an influence it could have on my time here and how much I value those experiences, just as much as the academic part, but maybe a little more. It’s the people I’ve been able to talk to, if I’ve missed a speaker and really reached out.
One of the speakers I really wanted to go to – I was in Hope that day for Practicum – I followed up with over email and got to talk to her about her work. It was Dr. Baz Dreisinger, she wrote “Incarceration Nations.” I was mad that I missed that one. Her work is great. Being able to have those connections and seeing where that ties into what we’re learning in class is great.