Why I'm Glad I Chose The University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
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Why I'm Glad I Chose The University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

Small University, Big Opportunities

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Why I'm Glad I Chose The University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
Heather Deere Photography
Ten minutes away from my university is my high school alma mater. Twenty minutes away from my high school is my parent’s house, where I lived all four years of college.
My college experience was not the quintessential one.

You can definitely say my collegiate experience was different than most, but there is hardly anything I would go back and change. I was as close to home as it gets, but that doesn’t mean my college experience was any less than that of a collegiate who moved halfway across the country to get a degree. In fact, I would venture to argue my experience was better because I got the best of both worlds: the comfort of home and the challenge of making a new life for myself in a familiar city.

At the time, it only made sense for me to stay at home when the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith was a mere 15-minute drive away. I am very close to my family and the idea of being able to see them more-- along with hot meals, laundry, and free room and board - kept me from packing up and driving across town to live in the campus dorms. Their emotional and financial support, along with much prayer and encouragement, kept me going through long nights of studying and early mornings of class.

I did not make a true effort to get involved on campus my freshman year. My primary goal was to go to class, go to school, and go home. I wanted to get through college as fast as possible. It was when I decided on a whim to go through sorority recruitment sophomore year that my outlook changed. I met so many incredible women that I connected with on so many levels. Leadership opportunities abounded due to the small numbers of students in Greek ife on campus and for the first time in my life, I was pushed into a leadership role. I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to grow and serve on campus and in my community through Greek life at UAFS. They welcomed me with open arms, open hearts, and endless opportunities.

Thank you Gamma Phi Beta, Panhellenic, and Greek advisers for reassuring me and encouraging me in my abilities to serve.

I also became involved with a collegiate campus ministry. This allowed me to grow in my faith and plugged me into areas of service I would have never dreamed of before. I grew strong in the Word under the leadership of my home church pastor and college pastor at Reach. I am forever thankful for the way these men and others touched my life and taught me to love like Jesus loves.

I never would’ve had the camaraderie with my professors or peers had I gone to a larger institution. UAFS is relatively small, so my program of study was small as well. Historical Interpretation was hands-on, in your face, and real. This degree allowed me to dabble in museum studies, archival and library sciences, public history, interpretation, and public service. My professors invested so much in my education and their passion for our field was undeniably contagious. It continues to shape my passion in working towards a career in social studies education today.

Thank you Dr. Kite, Dr. Willoughby, Dr. Crane, and Professors Wing and Waller for your investment in my education and future career.

I came to college with “undecided” scrawled on the line where my major should be. I walked across the graduation stage four years later with a purpose and a passion for my future career. Before attending UAFS, I was not a leader, I was not involved, and I was never confident in my own abilities or even in my own identity. At UAFS, I flourished in my love for others, in service to my community, in my faith, and in my future career endeavors. Had I gone somewhere else for college, I know I still would’ve received an excellent education. But because I attended the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, I received so much more.

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