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m a g a z i n e Spring 2009 | Volume 102, Issue 1

Catch me

if you can SPRING 2009

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UCA MAGAZINE


contents

Spring 2009 | Volume 102, Issue 1

12

8

features

14 No Excuses

16 A Historical Perspective

18 See You Later, Alligator

22 UCA Scores with Athletic Training Program

24 The Soprano

departments

4

Editor’s Message

6

Work & Play

8

Around UCA

27 Alumni News

29 Class Notes

34 The Last Word

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ith a barely-audible click and effortless dismissal of a string of letters from my flat-screen monitor, I look across the office and see my old Underwood Standard No. 5 Typewriter sitting on a cabinet. It was built in the early 1920s, and it’s a hefty chunk of black metal with pin-striping, cracked rubber feet and dusty keys – some that still go clackity-clack, while others stick when pressed. I ran across the typewriter on the virtual auctionblock known as Ebay. A potential buyer indicated that he or she intended to remove its keys to make trendy jewelry. I suddenly imagined the robotcome-to-life Johnny 5 from the 1980s movie “Short Circuit” screaming “No disassemble!” and placed a $12.89 winning bid to rescue the typewriter from such a terrible fate. Once my new treasure arrived, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. It didn’t work. Even if it had, I couldn’t imagine hammering line after line of stories on my old Underwood. Besides, there was no delete key, and even if I managed to erase an error, a shadow of every discarded letter would linger on the page in a sort of purgatory of unwanted numbers and letters. I brought my old Underwood to work and stuck it in an empty cubby hole in my cabinet. What once was a symbol of modern engineering has been relegated to office décor. It’s been sitting there for a couple of years now. Occasionally I look over and wonder what sorts of stories might have run through it in those early days before everything was electric-powered and online. I wonder if, during the advent of the radio, someone used my old Underwood to capture the words of President Warren G. Harding in 1922 as he became the first president to deliver a speech over the airwaves, or maybe a journalist clacked out the story of the Hindenburg burning in 1937. Perhaps a homemaker used it to share a prize-winning pie recipe with a neighbor, a child typed an impressive book report on it or an aging man used it to record the memories of his life. No matter what its history may be, my old Underwood has told some stories. For as long as we have had language, man has been creating and sharing stories. These stories have been told, embellished and re-told; passed along from generation to generation. Some stories have been committed to memory. Some have been written down. But no matter how they have been recorded and shared, it’s those stories – those magical moments that take us away from our daily grind – that keep us connected, entertained and informed.

editor’s message

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UCA MAGAZINE

m a g a z i n e

Spring 2009

Vol. 102, Issue 1 Editor

Jennifer Boyett ‘01 Art Direction

Dianna K. Winters ‘95 Photography

Mike Kemp Director of Publications and Creative Services

Russ Hancock President

Tom Courtway Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Development

Shelley Mehl UCA Magazine is published two times annually by the University of Central Arkansas, from the Division of Institutional Advancement, UCA Box 4986, Conway, AR 72035. Phone: (501) 450-3197, Fax: (501) 450-5293, Email: ucamagazine@uca.edu. Please send address corrections to Database Administrator, University of Central Arkansas, UCA Box 4986, Conway, AR 72035. Opinions expressed in UCA Magazine are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine or the university administration. Copyright ©2009, University of Central Arkansas

www.uca.edu


THANK YOU For Changing Lives

Paisley High freshman, early childhood education Tom Burnett Leadership Scholarship

Last year, UCA alumni and friends gave nearly $2.3 million in private support to

the UCA Foundation, Inc. Your gifts offer Jacob Seiter senior, biology Crow/White Scholarship

students an opportunity for a higher education, allow faculty to pursue innovative ideas, and provide critical resources for our colleges and departments. Your continued commitment is changing lives.

Dr. Patty Phelps College of Education, Teaching, Learning & Technology Faculty Grant “Technicolor Teaching: Motivational Movies”

Keoni Sauer junior, accounting Regions Bank Scholarship

Jelisa McMillion freshman, undeclared Holloway/Hicks Scholarship

Dr. Kenneth Barnes College of Liberal Arts, History Faculty Grant “Conference on Teaching Social Studies: The Middle East”

Lucille Busch senior, math/history Eugene and Hazel Weir Educational Trust

UCA Foundation UCA Box 4986 Conway, AR 72035 (501) 450-5288 www.uca.edu/foundation SPRING 2009

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work&play

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UCA MAGAZINE


While most motorists think of orange cones as a warning, Accounting Professor Tom Oxner sees them as a challenge. Driving a specially prepared Porsche 911, Oxner competes monthly in a Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) sanctioned sport known as autocrossing. Driving through a course of cones laid out in large parking lots or airfields, Oxner threads his way through the maze trying to improve his speed during timed events. With numerous performance classes that equalize the field, the rules are relatively simple: the car with the fastest time wins.

Would your students be surprised to find out that this is a hobby for you? The few that have found out were quite surprised.

Describe the sensations that a typical run would involve. It’s a tremendous adrenaline rush. In order to go fast, you have to have the car at the limit of adhesion. If you went a half-a-mile-an-hour faster through the corner, the rear end would be breaking loose. When I took (my son) Luke on his first run, he got out of the car and said, “Dad, I was convinced at every corner you were going to run though the cones.” If you’re an adrenaline junkie, it’s the way to go.

Does any part of your career as an accounting professor spill over into this hobby, or did one grow out of the other? The only part that spills over is that I should keep track as to how much I spend on the cars. Teaching accounting and doing accounting research requires a great deal of preparation from a cerebral standpoint. (Autocrossing) requires a lot of physical. We all like to feel a little creative. I have no ability to paint or draw, so what I do is take old cars and make something out of them. It gives me a sense of creativity.

What got you started in autocrossing? I always owned muscle cars and I bought a used Porsche because I had never owned a sports car before. I really liked the way it drove. It would not do well on a drag strip, so one day I saw some guys in a parking lot with cones and thought, “Man, I’d like to try that.”  mike kemp

Accounting Professor Tom Oxner drives a Porsche 911 when he participates in autocrossing. SPRING 2009

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arounduca addresses and instant messaging services. A test of the 3N system was successful in January, and the emergency notifications committee has recommended the system to the president and the board of trustees. The university is also pursuing a public address/siren system for the campus and has been in negotiations with various vendors. UCA has already implemented several safety features including a voice-mail notification system for faculty and staff and a “Crisis Notification” group on Facebook where members will receive emergency notification messages. Safety or crime alert information will be sent to UCA employee email addresses via an administrative listserv, as a pop-up on all networked campus computers and via student CUB email accounts. Crisis alerts will also be posted on the UCA Web site, the UCA Police Web site and The world watched as UCA responded to a campus shooting on Oct. 26. the internal intranet site, URSA. A 24-hour emergency information hotline and a Safe@UCA email listserv have also been established for alumni, parents and members of the community to receive current alert or safety The University of Central Arkansas is still felonies including two counts of capital murder. information. picking up the pieces after tragedy struck the The incident sparked concern from students, James assured that collected email addresses campus on the night of Oct. 26. parents and members of the surrounding com- and phone numbers would only be used for That evening, the unthinkable happened munity and prompted university officials to re- emergencies. “The database is there for their when two UCA students and a non-student assess campus safety and security measures. safety,” he said. “We have done virtually evwere shot during a nighttime drive-by shootWithin 90 days, the university established erything we can to have different layers. The ing near Arkansas Hall. an emergency notificabest crime prevention in Chavares Block, 19, tions committee that was any community is inforof Dermott, and Ryan charged with evaluating the mation.” Henderson, 18, of Little procedures and tools UCA In addition to safety noRock, were killed, while already had in place to see tification tools, the univernon-student Martrevis if it worked properly dursity has also begun limiting Norman of Blytheville ing the shooting incident. campus access at night to Visit the suffered injuries. The committee also invesone entrance on both the UCA Homepage at Block played high tigated and suggested new east and west sides of camChavares Block www/uca.edu school football and ran emergency notification pus. track. He was a member of the BETA Club, tools to for the university Courtway said he Call the 24-hour served as class president and graduated with to consider. learned some important emergency hotline advanced honors from Dermott High School In January, Interim UCA lessons from the incident. 501-852-INFO in 2007. A UCA sophomore, Block was a President Tom Courtway “What I learned is that in (4636) physics and astronomy major and wanted to and UCA Police Chief Laran incident like this, our Sign up for the become an engineer. ry James presented a public police, housing officials, Safe@UCA email listserv at Henderson was a update on several of the administrators, RAs and www.ucapd.com everyone else did what UCA freshman who safety initiatives. had not yet declared a James said, “After the they were supposed to, but major. He served as a incident occurred, we had we can only do so much,” freshman representative discussions with students and parents about he said. “I’ve also learned that try as you might, for the Student Gov- establishing a system to notify larger and wider you can’t prevent everything, and anytime this ernment Association. groups of individuals.” happens, you have to step back and see what Ryan Henderson Both students resided The university has partnered with the other worked and what needs to be improved. I never on campus in Arkansas Hall. state agencies to explore systems that are al- thought it would happen at UCA. We’ll put Police arrested four male suspects, all non- ready being used including the 3N system, these systems in place and pray that it never students, who were each charged with multiple which sends text messages to cell phones, email happens again.”

Security measures expanded after campus shooting

For UCA Crisis Alert Information

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UCA professor receives Governor’s Award

College of Business building topped off In January, alumni and friends signed their names and penned messages on a 21-foot steel beam that topped off the university’s new College of Business building. The 70,000-square-foot building, which is under construction, is located behind Wingo Hall, facing Donaghey. It is being built by Nabholz Construction. Charles Nabholz, President of Nabholz Construction, said the topping ceremony is an ancient tradition that has been passed down through the generations. “Today the ceremony celebrates the completion of the most dangerous phase of construction,” he said. The new building will include a 160-seat auditorium, eight tiered lecture halls, two flat classrooms, two computer labs, and 61 faculty offices. Additionally the new building will feature numerous conference rooms, a graduate lounge, and space for each of the college’s centers and institutes. UCA has secured approximately $18 million for the construction through higher education bonds and is working to secure more private donations. The building is scheduled to open in the spring of 2010.

John M. Erwin, director of choral music at UCA, was presented the 2008 Arkansas Arts Council Governor’s Individual Artist Award. The Individual Artist Award category is for artists active in the field of architecture, contemporary crafts design, film, literature, performing arts or visual arts. Erwin’s recognition marks the second time in three years that a UCA faculty member has won the award. In 2006, sculptor Brian Massey Sr. received the honor. “There are so many deserving artists,” Erwin said. “I’m very honored that I was singled out. It would have been very easy to pick any of my music colleagues here at UCA and around the state. I think of myself as a collaborative artist. I cannot do what I do without other people. “I have to inspire, lead, and nurture that kind of willingness to create beauty in sound. And that’s my livelihood, my passion. And I cannot do it alone.” Erwin is the conductor for the UCA Concert Choir and the UCA Chamber Singers. He is in his 35th year at UCA and has had a number of successes during his tenure. Under Erwin’s direction, UCA’s choir was the Grand Prize Winner of the Great American Choral Festival in 1982 and also winner of two gold certificates at the Riva del Garda International Choral Competition in Italy in 2004.

Electronic sign provides important campus info A new electronic bulletin board has been added to the southeast corner of campus at the intersection of Donaghey and Dave Ward Drive to provide news and information to campus visitors and passers-by. The 6-foot by 16-foot sign offers bright graphics along with announcements of upcoming events, performances and promotional information related to the university. “I think the sign is a great addition to the campus,” said Interim UCA President Tom Courtway. “The announcements will increase community awareness of the many activities on campus for students, faculty, staff and very importantly, visitors.”

The sign was installed as a result of a private gift from UCA alumni Jim and Kay Hinkle along with funding from the university. “We appreciate their generosity in donating funds for the new sign,” Courtway said. Kay, who serves on the university’s board of trustees, recalled a past student government president mentioning the sign in the students’ wish list. “He said the students would like an electronic sign that would serve as a reminder

of the different things going on around campus,” she said. “I thought it was a great idea and this became something that was near and dear to my heart, so my husband and I decided to help fund the sign. I hope it will be beneficial to the students.”

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arounduca

Student finds independence through internship experience

The Washington Center, a non-profit organization that provides interns to thousands of organizations in the business, government and non-profit sectors, recruits a diverse body of students from across the country. Cleveland was matched with the Amputee Coalition of America, which advocates for people using prosthetics. “Most insurance companies don’t cover patients who need prosthetics,” she explained. “I’m on Medicaid and know how difficult this can be, and I don’t have my independence, so I understood what it was like for these people.” hen senior Shannon Cleveland got A highlight of her internship was visiting the opportunity to be set up with a summer Capitol Hill when the prosthetic parity bill, internship through the Washington Center last legislation to get third-party insurers to provide summer, she never guessed how dramatically it prosthetics according to Medicare standards, would change her life. was scheduled for a vote. She met Sen. Eliza“I’ve never had that kind of independence beth Dole and lobbied the senior legislative aid my entire life,” the 22-year-old said. for Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Cleveland became a quadriplegic following a Another highlight was meeting Rhode Iscar accident her senior year of high school and land Rep. Jim Langevin, the first quadriplegic has been wheelchair bound, requiring a full- to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, time caregiver ever since. following a press conference regarding the Once she was accepted into the Washington Americans with Disabilities Restoration Act. Center’s internship program, she and her boyCleveland also received an invitation to the friend, Robert Long, headed to Washington, opening of a pictorial history exhibit of the D.C. for a six-week stay. Americans with Disabilities Act at the Smithso-

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nian. “It was like something you would see in a movie. It was a very high-class event,” she said. Cleveland enjoyed her stay so much, that she would consider moving there some day. “I loved the fast-paced, professional atmosphere,” she said. “There’s always something to do.” Using the metro allowed Cleveland to experience newfound independence. “I could take myself from point A to point B, without any assistance, using the rail system,” she said. Cleveland’s is now more confident in herself. “I’ve seen so many of my friends get opportunities for internships and I didn’t think that would ever happen to me because of my injury,” she said. “This was an equal-opportunity internship based on academics, so I competed against everyone else and on a competitive and even playing field. I’m proud of this because I got myself there and that was a big accomplishment for me.” Cleveland’s internship experience has her excited about the future. “I know there are barriers, but I want to break them down,” she said. “Becoming involved with politics and policy-making struck a chord with me. My dream would be to work with the National Spinal Association. I would love to talk about spinal cord injuries and I would love to get a job in D.C. and work on my master’s degree.”  JENNIFER BOYETT ‘01


UCA lands major literary journal

Men’s soccer to join Missouri Valley Conference

The legendary literary journal, Exquisite Corpse: A Journal of Letters & Life, founded and edited by celebrated author and National Public Radio commentator Andrei Codrescu, is now based at the University of Central Arkansas. The journal has been a major icon in contemporary American literature for more than 25 years. Originally designed as an avant-garde national literary journal showcasing experimental writing, the Corpse quickly evolved into a progressive forum for all literary genres, including literary translation, interviews, critical theory, drama, polemics and politics, artwork and photography, and reports from various outposts of global dystopia. After 15 years of promoting both emerging and established voices while maintaining a healthy attitude for weighing in on the burning issues of the times, Exquisite Corpse moved from a primarily NEA-funded print format to a cyber format (www.corpse.org) in order to pioneer the online literary journal. UCA writing professor Mark

The University of Central Arkansas men’s soccer program has been accepted into the Missouri Valley Conference, the league announced in December. Beginning with the 2010 season, the Bears and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville will join as affiliate members to a league that includes Bradley, Creighton, Drake, Eastern Illinois, Evansville and Missouri State. “I’m very excited for our program to finally have a conference home,” said UCA head coach Chad Flanders, who has guided the Bears through their first three seasons in Division I play as an independent. “It’s enormous for us, the fact that we not only now have a conference affiliation but that it’s with such a fantastic soccer conference.” The MVC is a tradition-rich league which has had 32 All-America selections, four national players of the year, 33 NCAA Tournament appearances and four teams advance to the NCAA College Cup – the soccer final four. The league has also produced more than 200 professional players. “It’s exciting knowing that we’re going to have that type of soccer programs coming to Conway,” Flanders said. “It’s a great opportunity for people around the state to view some of the best country in the soccer. It’ll be great for the younger kids to get to see collegiate soccer at a high level and be great for the community as a whole.” Since joining the Division I ranks, the Bears have built off their Division II success – which includes a national semifinal and two national quarterfinal appearances – and notched wins over members of the Atlantic Sun, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, and the Summit League in addition to MVC teams. “We’re pleased to welcome SIU Edwardsville and Central Arkansas as men’s soccer affiliates,” MVC commissioner Doug Elgin said in a conference release. “Both programs have successful track records and championship pedigrees, which will add more depth to our already talented conference.” The announcement serves as the end result of a long, thorough process that has been in the works for more than a year. “It’s certainly something we’ve coveted for some time now,” UCA athletic director Brad Teague said. “We’ve been pursuing this opportunity and we’re fortunate the Missouri Valley Conference saw fit to let us in. We’re very pleased that the MVC is the conference we’re in.”

Spitzer was part of this transition. Now, through the Department of Writing in UCA’s College of Fine Arts and Communication, the print Corpse will be reborn at UCA – this time as a brand new glossy-covered, 150-page annual to complement the Web site. The Exquisite Corpse Annual will create excitement in the literary world and provoke a new generation of literary excellence in Arkansas. Under the guidance of editor-in-chief Andrei Codrescu, with Spitzer as managing editor, and UCA writing professor Terry Wright as associate editor, the Exquisite Corpse will enhance UCA’s position as a leader in the arts. “This move is mutually beneficial: UCA gains by associating with a well-known literary magazine, and the Exquisite Corpse gains new life in print, as a book,” said Codrescu. “The online journal will continue its work, and it will aid the annual by sharing writers and publicity. The first issue of the Exquisite Corpse Annual will continue publishing well-established names, among them Diane di Prima, Bill Berkson, and Aram Saroyan, while promoting less known ones.”

UCA professor to be featured on Animal Planet series Mark Spitzer, assistant professor of writing, visited the Trinity River in Texas last fall where he was commissioned to fish for alligator gar and do a series of interviews with the British production company Icon Films for the series “River Monsters” to appear on the Animal Planet channel this year. Four alligator gar were caught and released; ranging from 3 feet long to 6 feet 8 inches, 126 pounds. “I’ve always been interested in the fish,”

Spitzer said. Six years ago, he began writing essays about gar. This led to more research and eventually a book of essays and “garticles” called, “Season of the Gar,” which is awaiting publication. “Gar have really been demonized and there’s a lot of false information out there that has ruined their reputation,” Spitzer said. “In reality, it’s a fantastic sport fish and it is a good food fish as well. They also serve an ecological purpose and balance out ecosystems.”

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arounduca

Faculty, staff shape up with wellness program

UCA updates athletic facilities As UCA completes its last year of transition to Division I of the NCAA, the athletics department debuted one facility upgrade this spring and is completing a new stadium. The baseball stadium received a facelift last year including new grandstands that seat 1,000 fans, concessions and press box. The entryway was also reconstructed with a brick and concrete façade and new fencing borders the field. Other features included as part of the overall $1.6 million renovation are new restrooms, an elevator and stair access to the grandstands. New lighting for the field was also installed in 2007. “This renovation was necessary whether we moved to Division I or had stayed in Division II,” Associate Athletic Director Darrell Walsh said. “Our baseball field had been lacking for a number of years and we needed to be on an even playing field with our opponents.” The baseball team began playing at the new stadium in February.

Next fall a $3.5 million new track and soccer stadium will officially open on the southeast corner of campus. Men’s and women’s soccer will be the first to host competitions at the new stadium. “The old soccer field would sometimes go under water due to draining issues,” Walsh said. “The new field is similar to the football stadium, where it will have proper draining and good grass to play on.” Circling the new soccer field is a new track, and UCA is only the second location in the world for the new surface to be used. “The first place this new Mondo surface was used was at the Beijing Olympics,” Walsh said. “The coaches looked at several different surfaces and this was what they wanted to go with. Our athletes like it. This track should help us recruit some quality athletes to the program.” UCA’s track program has not had a track to compete in nearly two decades.

Faculty and staff are shaping up with a new employee wellness program sponsored by UCA Health and Wellness. The Shape Up UCA program is a six-week program designed to get faculty and staff active and improve their health. Faculty and staff may register for one of the three levels of the program. Dr. Jean-Claude Martin, director of the UCA Health and Wellness Center, said three levels were necessary because not everyone is in the same state of readiness when it comes to a healthy, active lifestyle. “The reason why this program was established is the fact that people need to be active, but we realize that not everyone is at the same point,” he said. “We have a beginner’s level for those who are thinking about becoming active, another level for those who want to get started and then a third level that requires a little more commitment.” The program levels require anywhere from no exercise to three hours of exercise per week, up to two lecture classes on topics such as personal obstacles and healthy eating, an online health-risk assessment and an optional health screening. The six-week program will be offered to all faculty and staff twice per spring and fall semesters. As an incentive, employees who complete each six-week program will receive up to $30 in Wellness Bucks that will be honored wherever Bear Bucks are accepted. “The true objective is to try and make our community healthier, to reduce our insurance claims, and thereby, reduce our health insurance premiums,” Martin explained.

UCA student competes on American Idol live

University of Central Arkansas junior Kris Allen impressed Simon, Paula, Kara and Randy to make it to not only to the Hollywood round of American Idol, but through it and onto the live show of the reality show’s eighth season. The 23-year-old musician, singer and songwriter from Little Rock developed a passion for music when he taught himself to play the guitar at age 13. He has since mastered the piano, viola and ukulele. Allen, who is majoring in business at UCA, was one of only eight American Idol contestants to receive a golden ticket during first round auditions in Louisville, Ky. Allen wooed the judges with his rendition of Leon Russell’s “A Song for You.” Allen made it to the live show after his group, nicknamed “White Chocolate,” performed an energetic rendition of the Jackson 5s’ “I Want You Back.” In 2007, the unsigned singer debuted his first full-length CD, “Brand New Shoes.”

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Move over Willy Wonka, Freshman Dominique Alford was one of the lucky few to land a silver ticket to the inauguration of PresidentElect Barack Obama in January. Alford remembers last fall talking about the historic upcoming election with Dr. Carolyn Williams, associate dean of the College of Education. “She said she would love to go to Obama’s inauguration if he was elected,” Alford said, “And I said, ‘I would too’.” Soon after Obama was elected, Alford, her Satellite Minton resident master Miranda Morris, and two other students began making plans to travel to Washington D.C. despite not having tickets to the inaugural festivities. Upon hearing their plans, Williams suggested they write to various elected officials and request tickets. Morris wrote a letter to Sen. Blanche Lincoln. “No one was more shocked than me when we got the email informing us that we had been granted tickets,” Morris said. “Telling Dominique about it was so great. She was ecstatic.” Morris and Alford originally planned to make the 16-hour drive to Washington, D.C., but Morris suggested they fly instead. “I knew I was going to need financial support for the trip,” Alford said. “I wrote a letter to the UCA Foundation and to the College of Liberal Arts requesting any financial support they could provide.” Alford, a pre-law student, wasn’t sure she would find help due to the tough economic conditions the entire country, including the university and it’s Foundation, were facing. “I got a call one day from someone named Shelley Mehl who said she was with the UCA Foundation and that they, and the College of Liberal Arts, would love to support me. I felt kind of guilty because I know how tough the economy is right now, but I was so thankful,” she said. Mehl, who serves as president of the UCA Foundation, said she was happy they could help. “Dominique was over halfway there anyway. She had a room booked and had gotten a ticket to the inauguration. She simply needed a little financial sup-

Student lands inauguration silver ticket

port to pay for the plane ticket, the metro and some meals. I couldn’t imagine letting one of our students pass up such an opportunity. This is a perfect example of what unrestricted donations to the UCA Foundation can do. These donations give us the flexibility to lend support to such worthwhile opportunities.” Alford also received support from the College of Liberal Arts, her church, family and friends. “I didn’t expect the outpouring of support that I received,” she said. “One of my responsibilities in the Satellite Minton program is to reach out to the community and it was amazing to see the community turn back around and give something to me.” Alford said her experience was unforgettable.

“I got to stand by Obama’s office and I got to meet Roland Burris … Oh, and we saw Obama’s profile through the window of his limo when his motorcade passed by us,” she said. Alford and Morris also got to have lunch with Sen. Lincoln and thank her for the tickets. One of the most touching moments for Alford was seeing Aretha Franklin sing “My Country Tis of Thee,” at the inauguration. “I was crying and people were tearing up all around me,” she said. “I imagined this must have been what it was like during the March on Washington. Everything we went through to get there was worth is a thousand times over. It’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.”  JENNIFER BOYETT ‘01

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No Excuses

BY jennifer boyett ‘01

Grad overcomes challenges to earn degree Lisa Johnson had been out of high school for about seven years, was living in a local homeless shelter, didn’t have a car and didn’t know how to drive, but she didn’t let any of that prevent her from earning a college degree last August.

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After graduating from Little Rock Central High School in 1997, Johnson put off going to college. She was living and working in her hometown of Little Rock, but lost her job at a gas station in the fall of 2001. She was unable to find another job and with bills accumulating and no money to purchase even the basic necessities, Johnson was invited to Conway where one of her three older sisters had offered her a place to stay in exchange for help with childcare. While living with her sister, Lisa secured a job at a local telemarketing company and that is where she first learned about a local homeless


shelter called the Bethlehem House. “I was amazed that there were services like that in a small town like this,” she said. “I knew about the services that were offered in Little Rock, but had no idea they had things like that in Conway.” Johnson called the Bethlehem House to inquire about living there and found out they had rooms available for single women. She was sad to leave behind her sister and niece, but quickly realized this was the right move for her. “I had lived in a shelter before, and didn’t really want to live in another one, so I had to think about it at first,” she explained. “But I had this voice in my head telling me that I should do it, so I did.”

Johnson said the people at the Bethlehem

House were nice, but strict. She was admitted for a 90-day probationary period where she had to work around the house and get to know the other tenants and volunteers. During that period, she began taking advantage of many of the home’s services including getting counseling, setting and meeting goals, like learning to drive a car, and learning to manage finances. “They help you manage and save your money, and you have to earn your keep,” she said. Johnson will always remember Meredith, a Bethlehem House employee who befriended her during a difficult time. “She was a real genuine person. She took me to her house and we went and saw ‘Finding Nemo.’ I needed to get away for a little while and she saw that and I will always be thankful,” she said. Johnson had always wanted to go to college, but after putting it off for so long, she found it difficult to find the right time to go back. Johnson wasn’t sure her grade point average and ACT scores were high enough to be admitted to UCA, but she applied anyway. “I expected to get rejected,” she said. “When I got my acceptance letter, -Lisa Johnson I felt like a million bucks because I didn’t think I’d get in.” Once she was accepted, Johnson knew she

I’m a

fighter, I

don’t want

to quit

and I like

challenges.

needed to apply for financial aid. “I worked with Reesa Robinson,” she said. “She was very nice.” Johnson was still nervous about attending college for the first time, so a campus tour was arranged for her and she met Assistant Dean of Students Wendy Holbrook who informed her about minority services and organizations she could become involved with to meet people and network. When Johnson first enrolled in school, she considered majoring in political science because she wanted to become a lawyer, but instead, she chose to major in computer science thinking it might provide more immediate job opportunities. Johnson called the computer science program a challenge. “But a challenge was what I needed,” she said. “I need to prove to myself and everybody else that I could do it.” During school, Johnson worked for a time, but had to quit because working and going to school full time proved to be too much. She also got involved with a student organization called Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) and enjoyed being a part of that group, but had to give it up as well to maintain her studies. Johnson finally began to focus on school because she realized that her success was dependent on it. In August, she became the first person in her immediate family to earn a college degree. She was also the very first person on her father’s side to graduate from college. “I didn’t think I was going to graduate,” she said. “I’m only here by God’s grace and mercy.” Johnson was proud to walk across the stage and receive her diploma during fall commencement. Her mother, stepfather, two sisters and a niece were in attendance to share the momentous occasion. “They cheered themselves out. They were proud,” she said. Johnson wants to go back to school and earn a master’s degree next. She also still wants to become a lawyer, but she’s proud that she overcame so many challenges and earned her computer science degree. “Computer science is a hard program and I was one of the only girls in there, but I did it,” she said. “This whole experience over the last four years has showed me that I’m a fighter, I don’t want to quit and I like challenges.”

I needed to prove to myself and everybody else that I could do it. -Lisa Johnson

SPRING 2009

15


archivist compiles uca’s 100-year history BY jennifer boyett ‘01

i

n 1907, it cost the City of Conway a tract of land plus $51,753 – about half the cost of a modest home these days – to bring Arkansas State Normal School (now the University of Central Arkansas) to town. In competition with the likes of Fort Smith, Benton, Russellville and Quitman, the city upped the ante by tossing in water supply, a septic tank, electrical light connections, concrete sidewalks and an additional strip of land for a street. One year later, the school opened with one building, eight instructors and about 100 students who sought to become trained teachers, earning a two-year Licentiate of Instruction degree – the only degree offered by the school from 1908 to 1920. The school doubled its enrollment to 200 students within a year. A local reverend had promised to give each student a big red stick

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UCA MAGAZINE

of candy if the school reached its goal, and he kept his word. Though Arkansas State Normal School was established to train teachers, agriculture was also stressed because of its location in a rural state. The study of agriculture was mandatory in the early 1900s and each student was given a 50 by 10 feet plot to grow crops. Livestock was also kept at the college farm. Produce and livestock defrayed the operating costs of the school cafeteria and the excess was sold to the public. By the mid-1940s the college farm was sold and agriculture classes were discontinued as the campus returned its focus to training teachers.

p

resident Harry Truman once said, “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know,” and the University of Central Arkansas is ensuring its history is known with the recent publication of “The Centennial History of the University of Central Arkansas.” Now alumni,

doyne

torreyson

mcalister

irby


Bryant, who also served as a member of the centennial executive committee, was already an expert on UCA history. He had developed a series of lectures about various aspects of UCA’s history and he had written numerous articles for the Faulkner County Historical Society’s newsletter Faulkner Facts and Fiddlins’. Bryant also had a personal attachment to the project. He is also an alumnus of UCA, earning both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from UCA. He also has several family members who have attended Match the UCA including his wife, daughpresident with ter and a niece.

Ctrivia entennial the following fact:

fans and history buffs alike can find details from the university’s humble beginnings to the successes and challenges of recent decades in one complete volume. The 224-page hardbound book was written by Jimmy Bryant, the 11-year director of the UCA Archives, who spent more than two years researching and writing the school’s 100-year history. In early 2006, Bryant was approached by the administration to help the centennial executive committee develop a complete centennial history. The centennial executive committee was a group of faculty, staff, students and alumni who organized events and activities for UCA’s centennial anniversary in 2007. The committee was chaired by Dr. Emogene Fox, a UCA alumnus and chair of the department of health sciences. “The reason we wanted this is because the committee could not find a complete history of UCA in any one place,” Fox explained. “We could find bits and pieces here and there, so we thought this would be a good occasion to gather the facts and compile them into a comprehensive history of the university. We also thought that having a centennial history book would be a great way to commemorate such a significant anniversary.”

farris

thompson

hardin

ven as a child, Bryant recognized the importance of maintaining a historical record. He remembers that as early as age 6 or 7 he would preserve newspaper clippings when something of historical significance occurred. “I remember saving things from when we first started going to space exploration,” he said. “I was always clipping newspaper stories on things like presidential elections.” After graduating high school in England, Ark., Bryant attended UCA from 1972 to 1977 studying music as a tuba player and member of former band director Homer Brown’s, “Homer’s Heroes.” It was in the music department that Bryant met his future wife, Jann Duvall. After realizing becoming a music teacher wasn’t the right choice for him, Bryant left school and took a couple of management positions first at K-Mart and later for J.B. Hunt Transport. When J.B. Hunt downsized in 1993, Bryant returned to school to explore his passion for history. While finishing his master’s degree, Bryant worked in the UCA archives under Tom Dillard. He then served as an academic advisor for the university for two years and was named director of the archives after Dillard retired in 1998. While not everyone is interested in history, many can appreciate a good story and that is something that Bryant recognizes when he gives a historical account. “I try to not only tell what happened, but also tie it into how it impacted the school, who the people were and how they were involved. People are more likely to remember the information because they can often identify with those individuals or what happened,” he said.

Trivia answers: 1. Irby 2. Doyne 3. Hardin 4. Torryeson 5. Farris 6. McAlister 7. Thompson 8. Snow

snow

e

1 Had to deal with a shrinking student body due to World War II 2 Was the first to speak at a Founder’s Day celebration. 3 One of his top priorities was to remove UCA from AAUP censure. 4 Was considered a strict disciplinarian, but also had an excellent sense of humor. 5 Instituted a presidential forum allowing students to become more involved with university affairs. 6 Resigned after the 153rd Infantry Regiment, for which he was the commanding officer, was activated. 7 The number of degrees conferred increased by 82 percent during his first 10 years in office. 8 Was president when the first African-American enrolled at the school.

Editor’s Note: “The Centennial History of the University of Central Arkansas” is a special limited offer and is available, while quantities last, at the UCA Bookstore in the UCA Student Center, the bookstore’s Web site www.uca.bncollege.com and at the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce. The total cost of the book is 37.83, including tax.

SPRING 2009

17


See you later,

Alligator BY jennifer boyett ‘01

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UCA MAGAZINE


A few hours in a duck skiff traversing Mercer Bayou, a channel of the Sulphur River in southwest Arkansas, and we begin to realize just how difficult it is to find the elusive American

“Mercer, why are you doing this!” Dr. Steve Dinkelacker groans as we explore the same cypress-lined cove a second time. Excitement and anticipation wane as Dinkelacker, an assistant professor of biology and lead researcher for the Alligator Research Team, along with graduate student Geoff Smith, begin to suspect neither Clyde, at about 12-feet-long perhaps the biggest gator in Mercer Bayou, nor his friends, will be visibly basking in the sun on this mild November afternoon. There is no guarantee we will see an alligator on this trip. In fact, Dinkelacker has never searched for alligators in November, predicting that the cold weather reduces the chance of seeing any. Still, he and Smith have agreed to take us out for a search. Every upturned lilly pad and wilted leaf appears to be an alligator to the untrained eye. Parts of the channel not covered by a thick mesh of vegetation are crystal clear. Fish skip through the water. Ahead, a crane stretches its wings as our boat rumbles along; while overhead a hawk glides across the breeze. As we scoot along the channel headed back to shore, the sun begins its decent. Suddenly, Smith lets the motor slip to an idle and photographer Mike Kemp thrusts his finger toward a bed of vines on top of the water and just above a whisper yells, “There’s one!” After a quick round of high-fives, we navigate to within 10 feet of the napping gator. Dinkelacker picks up a large rod-and-reel and casts a weighted tre-Mike Harris ble hook over the alligator’s back, then quickly pulls the line in an attempt to snag the animal. As he pulls, the gator barrel rolls and disappears under water. It wasn’t Clyde, but rather a gator about half his size, still it leaves us with mixed feelings of disappointment and excitement. Dinkelacker is known in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for his love of all things creepy-crawly. This “reptile guy” has dedicated his career to studying the likes of turtles, snakes and alligators. His official reason for studying reptiles is because

alligator, let alone capture one.

“A lot of

people

didn’t even

know

we have

he is interested in the effects of natural and man-made stresses on animals, and reptiles are a good research subject, but candidly speaking, he simply loves reptiles. “I think they’re cool,” he says. “I’ve always enjoyed kicking around creeks and streams, picking up turtles and snakes, and I find them absolutely fascinating.” In 2007, Dinkelacker began investigating the effects of an annual alligator hunt, sanctioned by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, on alligator populations in the state. He along with AGFC Wildlife Technician Mike Harris leads the Alligator Research Team, which includes Drs. Jeff Miller, David Starkey and JD Swanson, along with graduate students Travis Henry and Smith and former undergraduate student Kyle Dixon. The AGFC began its first seasonal alligator hunt in 2007. The commission estimated the alligator population to be strong enough to withstand a limited sport hunt. Only 32 public and private permits were awarded last season. Harris, who has been relocating nuisance alligators for the AGFC for more than 20 years, says the commission did extensive spotlight surveys from 2001 to 2003 and again in 2007. Dinkelacker isn’t sure the estimates resulting from those surveys accurately reflect the number of alligators in Arkansas. “The game and fish commission’s management team is trying to make decisions related to the hunt, but they don’t have a lot of data,” Dinkelacker says. “Our goal is to provide them reliable data so they can make sound decisions about the future of their hunt.”

gators in

Arkansas.”

SPRING 2009

19


“These are wild

animals

that are very BIG

and

Strong.” -dr. steve dinkelacker

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UCA MAGAZINE

The alligator study is focused on the southwest corner of the state because this is where the native population of American alligators is located. In the 1970s, when alligators were reintroduced to the state after near extinction, many were transplanted from Louisiana, while some natives from the privately-owned Grassy Lake near Texarkana were also scattered throughout the state. Another reason that area was targeted is because Harris resides there and has become a welcome addition to the team providing a working partnership between UCA and the AGFC. Harris says a sport hunt for the state is positive and the commission has been conservative about the number of animals that are allowed to be harvested. “It’s been a good educational tool,” he says. “A lot of people didn’t even know we have gators in Arkansas. As we bring awareness to the animal, we’ve also educated individuals about their benefits. Alligators are a predator and people fear them, but they also help control rough fish and unwanted mammals, like beaver and nutria, in bodies of water. We do not want to do anything that is detrimental to the population.” While at times the Alligator Research Team conducts surveys, recording when and where they see alligators, they capture some as well. Alligators are captured with either a rod-and-reel or a snare. Nearly 170 alligators were captured last summer. Once an animal is captured, researchers assess the animal to determine the sex and tag them for recapture, measure their length, cut a ridge of skin from the tail for genetic testing and place transmitters in some females to track their nesting sites. Captured gators are then released. “We catch the gators in a safe and controlled environment,” Dinkelacker says, “We train our students before we let them capture an alligator and my rule is that you don’t capture a gator if you are alone. It takes a team to bring one in. These are wild animals that are very big and strong.”

Graduate student Travis Henry spent three months last summer in southwest Arkansas studying alligators. “It’s an experience of a lifetime,” Henry says, “but the excitement does wear off after a few weeks. I guess it’s the same as with fishing or hunting, you can go a while without seeing anything but still be anxious because there’s always that opportunity to get the big one.” Henry’s aim is to collect data for the first population model simulation and theorize the effect of a harvest. “Two years is not long enough to collect enough data, so I’ll take what I learned last summer and then I’ll fill in any gaps with data from other states. I’m looking at the alligators’ sizes, sex ratios and looking at reproduction,” he said. “Alligator reproduction was rare down there – or at least this year.” Dinkelacker and Henry are concerned that if the main breeders – large males often considered trophy animals – are taken out of the population by the sport hunt, it could take many years before the next generation of alligators reaches sexual maturity and begins reproducing. Henry also has done some groundwork for the mark and recapture method, which estimates the number of alligators in southwest Arkansas. “In the Florida Everglades or the swamps of Louisiana, the habitat is so large the alligators won’t move. In Arkansas, we don’t have that same kind of habitat, so we believe our alligators are moving around more. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission used the same survey methods as Florida and Louisiana where they do a nighttime survey to see how many alligators they see by counting how many sets of eyes are reflected by a spotlight. They multiply that number by four to come up with a population estimate,” Henry said. Marking and recapturing alligators is the standard method of estimating populations and the team is using this method to validate the accuracy of the AGFC’s nighttime observation surveys. The Alligator Research Team is also examining alligators’ nest site selection, habitat use, multiple paternity and phylogenetics. The study is broad because “we’re missing all info on all the variables,” Dinkelacker says. “In Florida, gators reach reproductive size at six feet, but that variable may change at different latitudes. The game and fish commission needs to know the sizes they need to protect, for example.” Smith, who started working with Din-


kelacker as an undergraduate first investigating turtles, is the newest member of the Alligator Research Team. “From a graduate student perspective, this project is allowing me to work toward a thesis, which I must to do earn my degree,” Smith explains. “I’d like to go on and become a professor and write grants and do research for the rest of my life. I’m getting good field experience, going out and catching these animals, but I’m also getting statistics which I’ll be able to use in the future and I’m learning how to write scientific papers and grants, so I’ll be able to transition into a professional science once I graduate. If I don’t go into academia, this will prepare me to go into conservation-type work as well.” Smith’s aim is to investigate the habitats of alligators. Smith will collect seasonal data from 15 to 30 sites and analyze 20 to 30 habitat variables in an effort to determine which variable has the greatest effect on the habitat they select. “We will pull out different variables, like whether the land is private or public, which would help us know whether the alligators are being harassed by humans. Another variable might be what types of land is surrounding their habitats. There have been lots of habitat models put together, but they’re in entirely different areas, so this will be new,” Smith says. “We don’t know what makes good habitat in Arkansas,” Dinkelacker says. “Louisiana is obviously different than the Florida Everglades, which is different than South Carolina. We know from places like Grassy Lake, that we can sustain thousands of alligators, but why don’t other areas of the state have more gators? Mercer looked like a great habitat, but there weren’t many gators.” As samples are gathered, Starkey, an assistant professor of biology, will look at alligator genetics to determine which ones are offspring of the Louisiana alligators that were introduced to the state in the 1970s and which are native to Arkansas. Meanwhile, Swanson, also an assistant professor of biology, will look at hatchling alligators to determine if there are multiple fathers, and what effect, if any, it has on the hatchlings. Miller, a visiting assistant professor of biology, is the final member of the Alligator Research Team. Miller worked in Australia for about 30 years and has expert knowledge of

saltwater crocodile. He is serving as an adviser to the study. Dinkelacker hopes to conduct a five-year study of alligators, but admits a lack of funding is jeopardizing the effort. “This summer we’ll be running on fumes if we don’t get some funding,” he says. “We’re looking at more grant opportunities. One of our biggest expenses right now is just paying for gas to travel back and forth between UCA and southwest Arkansas. Travis drove 9,000 miles last summer and if we don’t get funding this summer, the students may have to pay their own way if they want to

continue with their investigations. They know that is an unfortunate realization.” Studying alligators may not seem as important as finding a cure for cancer or investigating global warming, but Dinkelacker insists it is a worthwhile endeavor. “There are so many arguments you can make for the importance of alligators,” he says. “Alligators are a top predator in the food chain, and they are an integral part of our ecosystem. Hunters want there to be enough of a population so they can have an annual sport hunt. There were about 3,000 people who signed up for a chance at one of 32 permits last year, so the interest is wide, and by having the hunt, more and more Arkansans being educated about this major predator.” As we cut through the nighttime fog on Bos D’Arc Lake, Smith scans the lake with a spotlight. We are bundled up in layers of clothes topped with winter toboggans. We are searching for the golden glow of alligator eyes against the light, but all we find is a reflector teasing us from the side of a tree. Dinkelacker turns the boat and heads for shore, saying, “I don’t think the gators are out tonight.”

SPRING 2009

21


UCA

scores with athletic training program BY jennifer boyett ‘01

T

When Sugar Bears freshman guard Nakeia Guiden had inflammation in her knee last fall, she knew where to turn for help – UCA’s athletic training center.

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UCA MAGAZINE

he center serves a two-fold purpose – it gives UCA’s athletic training education program students a clinical-type setting in which to practice their skills, and it provides student athletes with a free resource for care for sprains, strains and other sports-related injuries. Guiden lays across a bed in a t-shirt and basketball shorts while athletic training instructor Alison Moore uses ultrasound to heat the tendons in Guiden’s leg. “Everyone thinks it looks like I’m shaving her legs, but I’m heating the tendons so we can do massage afterward,” Moore explains. Moore opens a pouch full of stainless steel instruments in various shapes and sizes and removes one shaped like handlebars. While she runs the instrument up and down Guiden’s leg muscles, she explains that the beveled edges of the toll helps athletic trainers increase the effectiveness of the massage therapy. “This is the Graston Technique,” she says. “We use these special tools to realign the tissue fibers and make the tendons more mobile to reduce tendonitis.” Guiden says she can tell the care she’s receiving helps. “They take care of me,” she says. “I’m loose on the court, not so tight, so I can perform better.” Athletic trainers may well be the most valuable member of an athlete’s team. They are on the sidelines of most games in college and professional sports as well as some high school sports. When an athlete is injured during a game, athletic trainers are among the first to rush onto the field. They are health care professionals who work


with active individuals to prevent, diagnose and treat a variety of medical conditions, according to the National Athletic Trainer’s Association. Athletic Training Education Program Director Ellen Epping says, “A certified athletic trainer is someone who, on a daily basis, works with student athletes and facilitates their healthcare.” The University of Central Arkansas was the first in the state to offer a bachelors of science degree in athletic training. The program has been accredited since 2004. It is a small program, with only about 15 students during the fall semester, but Epping wants to bring enrollment in the program up to about 36 – admitting about 12 students into the program each year. To become certified athletic trainers, students must graduate with a bachelors or masters degree from an accredited program and then pass a comprehensive test administered by the Board of Certification. Athletic trainers do not have a typical 9-to-5 desk job. They are on the road with their teams, or are in a clinical setting with injured athletes working on rehabilitating them and preventing future injuries. “Our students have to really love the medicine end Nakeia Guiden of the job too, though,” Epping says. “It’s not just about athletics.” Certified Athletic Trainer Steve Hornor estimates about half of UCA’s athletic training students go on to graduate school because they want to be employed at the collegiate level. There are about 13 accredited athletic training graduate programs across the U.S., but none in Arkansas. Brynn Schuckman and Alison Moore are the two newest instructors in the athletic training education program, which falls under the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education in the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences. Both graduated from UCA’s program and then attended graduate school in Indiana. Shuckman realized in graduate school how good the undergraduate program at UCA was. “At Indiana, they had an undergraduate program too, and I felt lucky to come from a smaller program where we got more one-on-one attention from the faculty,” she says. “Athletic training students at bigger programs aren’t allowed to touch the athletes, so they don’t get the hands-on experience we were able to have. My skills were better because of my experiences in UCA’s program.” Shuckman was hired to a permanent position last April. “It’s really neat to be able to give back to the program that I was once in because I can relate to the students,” she says. UCA’s program has what Hornor and Epping call “a good marriage” between the athletic and academic sides. “Our athletic training instructors not only teach, but also provide medical coverage for UCA sports as well,” Hornor says. “The instructors teaching these athletic training students are also the same ones supervising them on the field, and our students may learn something in the morning and then actually practice it in the afternoon.” The amount of hands-on experience students get in UCA’s program also makes the program unique. “When we established the mission and goals of the program, we didn’t want to have the stigma of producing graduates who only had book smarts,” Epping says. “We agreed it would take a lot of work to give students that practical experience, but it’s something we’re proud to have accomplished.”

“They take care of me.” -

Eppler

living his dream Aaron Eppler loves baseball, so it was a dream come true last year when he landed a job with the Philadelphia Phillies baseball organization. In 2005, Eppler earned a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from UCA, placing him in the first class to graduate from the newly accredited program. “I knew by the age of 15 that I wanted to become an athletic trainer,” he says. He remembers seeing athletic training students from a local university tend to students on the high school football team. “I was really intrigued to see them taping various body parts, evaluating injuries, bandaging the athletes and being so close to the action,” he says. A Malvern native, Eppler says UCA’s athletic training program has had an enormous impact on his life. “My experience at UCA was important because the athletic training program did not only educate the students in the field of athletic training, but they helped us understand the importance of making intellectual and logical decisions in life itself,” he says. Eppler always dreamed of playing Major League Baseball, but as he got older, he realized that would not be an option, so he took a different path. In 2008, Eppler was offered a dual role job as a conditioning coach and athletic trainer with the Philadelphia Phillies Minor League organization. “I knew this would be the opportunity of a lifetime,” he says. Eppler moved to Clearwater, Fla., where he worked with players during spring training and extended spring training until June. He then relocated to Williamsport, Penn., to be the conditioning coach for the Short Season Single A team, the Wiliamsport Crosscutters. The highlight of the season was a trip to Staten Island, N.Y., where the Crosscutters played the Staten Island Yankees. “The backdrop of the stadium was the New York City skyline of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, which was located behind the right center field wall.” In September, he returned to Clearwater to work with the Florida Instructional League. “This is a chance for our top prospects to get some extra development from our coaches before the offseason begins,” he explains. Making his job even more rewarding, in late September the Major League Phillies made it to the World Series, and as a staff member, he got free tickets to the games in Philadelphia. “I feel I am very fortunate to have a lot of my goals and dreams in life come true,” he says, “and most of them can be attributed to the UCA athletic training education program.”

SPRING 2009

23


The Soprano

Lewis shares her vocal talent with the world BY jennifer boyett ‘01

Music was an influence on Kristin Lewis’ life before she even realized it. Growing up in Little Rock, Lewis ’99 remembers the melodies her mother created working as a pianist, organist and music educator. “I remember noticing my mother’s discipline as she prepared for concerts and Sunday worship services,” Lewis said. “I always enjoyed listening to her perform and I felt encouraged to do the same. I am very grateful for this now. I believe she recognized my talent even as a child and

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UCA MAGAZINE


nurtured this gift.” Lewis shares her mother’s gift for music, as she has developed into a professional opera singer performing as a lyricospinto soprano in opera houses across Europe. “She has a voice that carries,” said Dr. Martha Antolik, Lewis’ mentor and former voice teacher. When Lewis enrolled at UCA, she began as an English major. Still, she enjoyed singing, so she enrolled in a vocal class filled with mostly non-music majors. At the end of the semester, the professor encouraged her to continue singing by taking private voice lessons. Lewis was soon taking lessons from Antolik. “She changed my perspective on my future in a very positive way,” Lewis said. “She taught me my technical foundation for singing opera repertoire; and she encouraged me to consider a career in opera performance.” Antolik saw raw talent and knew Lewis could become a successful singer with hard work and proper training. “Most of those who heard and worked with Kristin when she was in school here heard the great potential in her voice from the very beginning,” Antolik said. “The beautiful timbre and special presence in her voice was there from the start of her study, though she had much work to do on her stage abilities, technique, languages and style. The voice is just the beginning of what it takes to be a great singer.” As a junior, Lewis entered the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and won the regional contest. She then competed in New York and made it into the final round of the competition. “It was an incredible experience,” Lewis said. The following year Lewis entered the competition again. This time she did not win the regional portion of the competition, but she did learn many valuable lessons including not letting one setback equal defeat. “I also learned that having a passion for something does not replace the hard work necessary to achieve a goal,” she said. “Challenges have always pushed me to work harder and not having won the regional competition during my second attempt only made me more determined to excel at singing.” Lewis had considered several fields of study as an undergraduate, but once she realized music had been a constant companion throughout her life, she gained a sense of peace knowing that music and singing would become her life’s work. She and Antolik realized early in her vocal training that her voice was best suited for opera, and the more she studied, the more she began to feel the capabilities of her voice. “More importantly, I felt that this gift would allow me to touch the lives of others,” she said. “This possibility gave me the greatest sense of joy.” After completing her undergraduate degree, Lewis entered graduate school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She also enrolled in a young artist program with the Knoxville

Singing is my life’s work and my passion

Opera. Upon completion of her graduate degree, Kristin was soon at a turning point in building her career in the U.S. “She was limited in her opportunities to make a fulltime living singing opera in the States, and she had found a teacher, Carol Byers, with whom she really clicked, who, incidentally, was also an American singer and teacher based in Vienna, Austria,” Antolik said. Lewis followed Byers back to Vienna where she, too, began her career as an opera singer. During much of this past fall and winter, she played the lead role of an Egyptian Princess in the opera, “Aida,” by Guiseppe Verdi, one of Lewis’ favorite composers. Following her gala concert at UCA on March 2, she returned to Europe where she was a soprano soloist in Benjamin Britten’s “The War Requiem.” She will follow that by playing the part of Elvira in Verdi’s “Ernani,” and then will play Sister Rose in Jake Heggie’s “Dead Man Walking.” Lewis’ greatest challenge in becoming a professional opera singer has been the sacrifice of living a continent away from her family. “However, I do not regret my decision to live and work in Europe. My family and friends in America are very proud of my accomplishments; and I am very proud to represent my country wherever I travel,” she said. Lewis looks forward to continued success as a soprano singing opera. “Singing is my life’s work and my passion,” she said. “I am constantly striving to become a better musician and performer, and I am grateful for the opportunities that I have been given.”

SPRING 2009

25


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alumninews

Alumni survey gives association focus alumni director’s message Jan Newcomer

The UCA Alumni Association is a multi-faceted organization with the ultimate goal to connect and reconnect graduates, former students and friends to the University of Central Arkansas. This is done for the sole purpose of supporting the university and enriching the lives of students, graduates, former students and friends worldwide. The alumni association exists for the students who emerge on this campus each year and those students, now alumni, who came before. In light of these difficult and uncertain economic times, it is imperative the alumni association focus on the core purpose of its mission: maintaining relationships and encouraging communication between alumni and the university and promoting public education in Arkansas. As our promise to the future, the UCA Alumni Association will continue to direct its resources to: • Providing and enhancing communication tools necessary to keep our alumni connected to each other and UCA; • Providing opportunities to keep alumni engaged through the many services, programs and events relative to the success of UCA;

Last fall, a small group of students in Dr. Joe Cangelosi’s marketing class partnered with the alumni services office for a class project. The students needed to conduct a survey and analyze the results, while the alumni services office needed input from their constituents after not having a formal survey of UCA alumni in nearly a decade. “We wanted to gather info from alumni to find out what interests them as far as alumni association membership,” said Alumni Services Director Jan Newcomer. “We wanted to know what aspects of the services and benefits they are most interested in and how we might better not only attain alumni’s membership in the association, but also retain it.” The students met with alumni focus groups to create a questionnaire that was emailed to all of the nearly 7,000 alumni who have an email address on record with the alumni office. The survey had a 15 percent response rate, which is considered good. Most surprising was that the respondents were evenly split between members of the alumni association and non-members. Also, 25 percent

• And ensuring opportunities in higher education are available and accessible to current and potential students throughout our communities. We invite you to join us in this endeavor, by renewing or strengthening your commitment to the University of Central Arkansas through your membership and support of the UCA Alumni Association. Your membership and donations fund the services and programs to ensure students receive a positive educational experience and a successful future. Join us in promoting the traditions, pride and success that is UCA!

UCA Alumni

and submit your info.

Jackie Arrison

Audie Lynch

President

Debbie Bratton

Patsy Newton

Anne Crighton

Bill Dunaway Jr.

Bill Plummer

Vice President

William “Trey” Hankins

Becky Rasnick

Harold Helton

John C. Reno

Serena Jeffery

Karen Sullards

Jan Davis

Updating your information with the UCA Alumni Association is easy, safe and secure.

www.uca.edu/go/alumniupdate

Board of Directors

Secretary

Have you moved? Married? Started a new career?

Visit

UCA Alumni Association Officers

Dr. Herman Ellis

of respondents live 200 miles or more away. The survey revealed that most alumni are interested in communication as well as attending events and programs. “We’re going to use this info to focus and re-focus our efforts,” Newcomer said. “The strongest point was communication in all areas of the survey, so that is something we will definitely be focusing on. Every aspect of communication rated high.” The survey revealed a strong number of alumni see the alumni association as the voice between alumni and the university, something Newcomer was pleased to find. “We want to enhance our connections between the alumni and UCA,” she said. “We are going to work on promoting more activities that will allow UCA alumni to have hands-on involvement in giving back to the university.” While Newcomer was pleased to note 65 percent of those who responded said their overall impression of the alumni association was favorable, she has set her sights on the 33 percent who said their impression was neutral. “We need to work on that,” she said.

UCA Alumni Services Office UCA Box 4925 Conway, AR 72035 Email: alumni@uca.edu Jan Newcomer, Director (501) 450-3130 Haley Crafton Fowler, Assistant Director (501) 852-7463

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alumninews

Upcoming UCA Alumni Events Mudbugs & Bears Friday, May 15 5 p.m. Crafton Alumni Pavilion Tickets: $20/pp in advance $25/pp day of event More info/tickets: (501) 852-2955 or email alumni@uca.edu

Alumni & Friends Night with the Arkansas Travelers Friday, June 19 6:10 p.m. - 7:40 p.m. “All -You-Can-Eat” Buffet Pinnacle Structures Pavilion 7:10 p.m., First Pitch Tickets: $15/pp (all-inclusive) More info/tickets: 501-852-2955 or email alumni@uca.edu

AFA reunite

Alumni Service Award Dinner Friday, July 24 6 p.m. UCA Student Center Ballroom Tickets: $20/pp in advance $25/pp day of event More info/tickets: (501) 852-2955 or email alumni@uca.edu

UCA Bears vs. University of Hawaii Football Game Sept. 4 Aloha Stadium trip: Aug. 30 – Sept. 5 booking info: Cruise Planners 501-278-5353 toll free 1-866-500-9900.

October 19-24

Save the Date! UCA Homecoming 2009 Don’t miss out on these exciting homecoming events: • Alumni & Friends Homecoming Party

• Half-Century Club Induction for Class of 1959 • Alumni & Friends Tailgate • UCA vs. Nicholls State Football Game • Bear Bash In the fall, current and former members of the Association of Future Alumni gathered for the organization’s five-year reunion. AFA is a high-profile, high-energy student organization that serves as the official host for alumni related student events.

• And more! Visit www.uca.edu/homecoming for regular updates.

October 19-24 28

UCA MAGAZINE


classnotes received through March 10.

‘40s Bill Ramsey ‘47 and his wife, Betty (Swaim)

Henrietta Finch ’58 wrote the book, “God’s

‘52, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary

Amazing Grace,” published last July.

on Oct. 4, at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock with family members at a dinner.

Bronnie Hawkins Rose ’58 has taught busi-

make a note

‘50s

Keeping in touch with former

Henry L. Turner ‘51 and his wife, Beth

classmates is easy. Send your class

(Scott) ’80, reside in Lonoke. He is busy at-

‘60s

tending sports and music activities in central

Carl J. Barger ’69 retired as superintendent

Arkansas. She is the minister of Concord

of Arkansas Public Schools in 2001 and for

Methodist Church, located seven miles west of

the last seven years has been a resident of

Lonoke.

Conway where he serves on the school board.

notes on professional or volunteer work, awards, honors, marriages and births to:

1 Email 2 Fax

alumni@uca.edu (501) 450-5293

3 Mail

UCA Alumni Services

UCA Box 4925

Conway, AR 72035

ness education for 37 years in Arkansas, teaching the last 31 years at Vilonia High School.

He has published two novels, “Swords and Margaret (O’Bryan) Brodnax ‘54 was listed

Plowshares,” and “Mamie: An Ozark Mountain

in the 2007-08 edition of Who’s Who in

Girl of Courage.” He also recently published

American Education. She is a retired English

“Cleburne County and Its People.”

teacher who taught for nearly 50 years in the public schools and at colleges and universi-

Jack Johnson ’69 retired on July 31, 2008,

ties the United States and abroad. She and

after 38 years of service to the United States

her husband, Charles, moved after Hurricane

Army Corps of Engineers and its Little Rock

Katrina from a retirement community on the

District.

Gulf Coast to be near their only daughter in Edmund, Okla.

‘70s L. Gale Garrison ’71 began her 33rd year in financial aid at UCA last July. She continues

In Memory

to enjoy the football games, basketball games and tailgating at UCA.

Jill Jarvis Attebery ’05, Nov. 2.

Harold D. May ’55, Sept. 22.

Mickey Prince ’75 and his wife, Cheryl

Mazel Hulett Coggins ’55, Aug. 8.

Edgar L. McReynolds ’49, Nov. 11.

(Wedgeworth) ’78, became first-time grand-

Janice M. Goodbar Davies ’37, ’67, Sept. 30.

Mary C. Collums Paschall ’56, Oct. 22.

parents on Sept. 25 when their daughter gave

Theresa K. May Davis ’55, Nov. 4. Wanda M. Helderman Duran ’61, ’65, Aug. 24. Kay Noggle Ewing ’74, Oct. 28. Nellie Cooper Gerard ’79, Sept. 8. Joe Samuel Goode ’82, Nov. 10. Nell Ryals Grammer ’56, Sept. 19. Bobby G. Grisham ’57, Feb. 13. Donal J. Hall ’50, Oct. 28. Lois McAlister Hartwick ’58, Aug. 14. William “Billy” Shelby Jeter ’48, Nov. 10. Danny Gerald Johnson ’85, Sept. 30. Robert L. “Bob” LaFevers ’56, ‘62, Oct. 15.

J. Elizabeth Welty Perry ’39, Sept. 23. Mollie Bradke Phillips ’82, Aug. 14.

birth to Jordyn Nicole Hoelezman. Patty Donovan Tackett ’79 was named Hot

Ruth M. Ray Richards ’48, Aug. 8.

Springs Business Owner of the Year by the

Ernest L. Rush ’53, Aug. 24.

Business and Professional Women. Tackett

Eva Brown Scroggin ’47, Aug. 5.

owns Dance City Studios in Hot Springs. She is

Helen Deaton Shoffner ’60, Oct. 13.

a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Women’s Chamber. Patty and her husband,

Dr. Vance Edward Simelton ’77, Sept. 3.

David, have been married for 31 years and

John Cecil Stanton ’74, Oct. 22.

have three children.

Ophelia Wise Sullivan ’61, Sept. 27. Wilma Nicholson Tiner ’54, Sept. 21. Dr. Robert L. Truax ’50, Nov. 21.

‘80s Mary (Rinehart) Harrington ’80 and her

Velda N. Walker ’53, Aug. 19.

husband, Stephen, moved to Conway in 2007.

Eloise Bennett Wallace ’53, Aug. 22.

They have one child attending UCA and an-

Aubrey Wright ’49, Aug. 25.

other graduated last May.

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29


classnotes

Confucius Institute UCA is the first university in Arkansas, and only the 24th in the nation, to establish an officially sanctioned Confucius Institute. The institute is dedicated to the promotion and exchange of Chinese culture and language. It is designed not only to benefit UCA but also to serve as a regional resource center for Chinese culture and language. Cultural programming, training and services will be available to area schools as well as Arkansas companies interested in doing business in China. Following the formal announcement on campus in September, alumnus Billy Hardin and his wife, Jane, hosted a special reception at their Little Rock home.

Hosts Billy and Jane Hardin (from left) with Dr. Chen Qun, vice president of East China Normal University, and Tom Courtway.

30

Bill Keopple ’82, ’86 was presented the

Colonel Marc Williams ’82 retired from the

Craig Gerard FS ’83 and his wife, Wendy,

second annual Buddy Harding Award during

Army National Guard after 26 years of com-

attended the Toastmasters District 43 Fall

the Sept. 20 UCA football game. The award is

missioned service. He and his wife Olga have

Convention in Bentonville last October. At the

presented annually to a UCA alumnus for Ar-

settled in Leavenworth, Kan., where Marc is

convention, he was named Toastmaster of

kansas high school coaching excellence. Hard-

employed by Cubic Applications as a senior

the Year for 2007-08 for the district, which

ing’s fraternity, Sigma Tau Gamma, sponsors

military analyst with the Center for Army Les-

consists of Arkansas, western Tennessee and

the award. Keopple is head football coach at

sons Learned. He was awarded a Legion of

the northern two-thirds of Mississippi. There

Texarkana High School where he led the team

Merit and she received a Commander’s Award

are approximately 73 Toastmasters Clubs and

in back-to-back Class 6A state titles in 2006

for Community Service for her work with

1,200 members in the district.

and 2007. He had played for UCA and served

special needs children and the American Red

as an assistant coach for 14 years. Keopple has

Cross. Both are performing with the Ole Music

Keith Whitehead ‘87 and his wife, Dawn

also served as an assistant coach at Boise State,

and Dance of Spain, and Marc is a tenor with

(Williams) ’86, reside in Hindsville, Ark. They

Arkansas, and Tulsa.

the East Hill Community Singers.

have a daughter, Kendyl, who is a freshman

UCA MAGAZINE


at UCA this fall and is living in Hughes

In Memory of UCA’s 6th President

Residential Hall.

‘90s Christine (McKnelly) Reifeiss ’95 recently accepted a new role as a community health promotion specialist with the Arkansas

Dr. Jefferson D. Farris, Jr., 1927-2009

Department of Health/Arch Ford Educational Cooperative. She has worked as a public health dietitian for 12 years and lives in Conway with

Dr. Jefferson Davis Farris, Jr., the

her husband, Terry, and daughter, Jaclyn.

sixth president of the University Bernestine Rhodes ’95 teaches at Hall High

of Central Arkansas, passed away

School in Little Rock and recently became a

Friday, Jan. 16, 2009. He was 81. Farris was born in Springdale,

national board certified teacher.

Ark., in 1927 and graduated from Melissa (Wilson) Sisco ’97 was recently ac-

Conway High School in 1945.

cepted into doctoral study at the University of

He earned a bachelor’s degree in

Arkansas. She also works in financial aid at the

physical education and mathemat-

University of Arkansas Community College At

ics from Arkansas State Teachers

Batesville. She is the staff senate president at the school.

Dr. Jefferson D. Farris, Jr.

College (now UCA) in 1949. He also earned master’s degrees from the University of Michigan and George

Mary Shackleord ’97 married Rodney Gordon

Peabody College (now Vanderbilt) as well as an educational doctorate in health and physi-

of Fayetteville in Fort Myers, Fla. on June 7.

cal education from the University of Arkansas.

They now live in Lexington, Ky.

Along the way, Farris married his high school sweetheart, Patricia “Patsy” Camp, and the couple had three children, Rebecca, Elizabeth and Jeff III.

Matthew Tucker ‘97 and his wife, Jennifer

Farris was a World War II Navy veteran and the second UCA alumnus to become presi-

(Smith) ’97, have been keeping busy enjoying

dent of the university. His career began at UCA in 1961 when he was appointed chairman

their three sons: Riley, Zach and Alex.

of the department of health and physical education, succeeding his father, Jeff Farris, Sr., who had been the department chairman for 17 years.

Tara (Canada) Hollingsworth ’98 recently

After nine years, the school was reorganized and Farris was named dean of the College

married Harold Hollingsworth of Fayetteville.

of Fine and Applied Arts and Sciences. In 1974, President Silas Snow retired and Farris

She also earned a master’s degree from Arkan-

was nominated as his successor. On July 1, 1975, Farris assumed the presidency of the

sas Tech University last August. Tara teaches

university.

elementary school in Clarksville.

During his tenure, Farris led the school’s structural transformation into a university, all the while emphasizing the school’s roots in teacher education. Written policies for faculty

Chad Sisco ’98 is the founder and owner of

and staff were put into place, new graduate and undergraduate programs were estab-

Sisco Homes, LLC, a residential contracting

lished and the health sciences program became competitive with other universities. Farris is

company in Northeast Arkansas. He is a board

also credited with calling for the creation of the state’s first honors college after listening to

member and treasurer for the Batesville Area

the musings of his friend and colleague, Dr. Norb Schedler.

Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife,

In 1987, Farris left the university after receiving an opportunity to take on a new role

Melissa (Wilson) ‘97, are the proud parents

with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. After four years, Farris and his

of two children, Gray and Haley.

wife retired to Hot Springs Village.

LaShonda Lambert ’99 has joined Evans

residence hall for upperclassmen in the Honors College was named in his honor. In 2007,

and Dixon, LLC, as an associate attorney in

he was named co-chair of the university’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, “New

the workers’ compensation practice group.

Vision, New Century: The Centennial Campaign for UCA,” and that fall the Farris Honors

She is licensed to practice in Missouri and is a

Lecture Series kicked off with a lecture by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Most recently, Farris was

member of the American Bar Association, the

named co-chair of the presidential search committee that is working to select the univer-

Mound City Bar Association, the Missouri Bar

sity’s ninth president.

In the spring of 2006, Farris was granted president emeritus status at UCA and a new

Association and the Bar Association of Metro-

SPRING 2009

31


classnotes

politan St. Louis. In 2006, she was awarded the Academic Excellence Award from the St. Louis University School of Law for highest grade in legal research and writing.

‘00s

Foundation Board elects new officers, appoints members

Simikia Parker ’00 has worked, since 2006, as a travel nurse in various cities around the country. Tina Marie Cicero ’01 is the owner of That’s Greek to Me, LLC, where she is busy making letter t-shirts. Sancy Faulk ’01 serves as secretary of the Arkansas College Personnel Association and is on the school board of the Southside Bee Branch

J. Robert Kelly

School District. Peter Goff ’02 is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he received a master of fine arts degree. Michael Jack Hill ’03 married Kristin Weaver of Rogers on May 17 in Tulsa. They now reside in Rogers. Crystal Hilborn ’05, 08 has relocated to

J. David Grimes

the West Little Rock area, where she enjoys mountain climbing. She is a vegan and has taken a great interest in learning American Sign Language. She plans to continue her master’s degree studies in counseling psychology. Mary Linn ’05 is attending Harding University’s physician assistant program. She is also doing clinicals in the Central Arkansas area. She expects to graduate in July with a master’s degree in physician assistant studies and hope to work at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sci-

Amelia Eldridge

J. Robert Kelly of Rogers has been elected chairman of the UCA Foundation Board of Directors. Kelly is executive vice president of finance for Arvest Bank. A 1975 graduate of the university, Kelly has served on the board since 2003. Kelly also served on the Centennial Leadership Committee. Sue Snow Cooper ‘62 of Little Rock was elected vice chair. She is a real estate agent with Adkins, McNeill and Smith Real Estate, and has served on the Foundation Board since 2006. J. David Grimes ’91 of Conway was elected treasurer. He is the treasurer for American Management Corporation, and has served on the Foundation Board since 2003. He also served five years on the Alumni Association Board of Directors. Victor Green ’94 of Conway was elected secretary. He is a claims manager for Pilot Catastrophe Services, and has served on the Foundation Board since 2005. He also served on the Centennial Leadership Committee. Five new members were also appointed to the Foundation Board of Directors: Amelia Skinner Eldridge ’73 of Fayetteville, Steve Russell ’76 of Little Rock, Elizabeth Farris Sorrels ’77 of Hot Springs, Mark Thomas ’76 of Houston, Texas, and Don Weaver ’81 of Conway.

Sue Snow Cooper

Victor Green

Steve Russell

ences in geriatrics. Miranda Parks ’06 resides in Alma where she has started a job as the middle school speech language pathologist. Christen Warnock ’07 is enrolled in the community counseling graduate program at UCA. She also works with international students in the Intensive English Program. Elizabeth Farris Sorrels

32

UCA MAGAZINE

Mark Thomas

Don Weaver


Bear Babies On Jan. 18, Branden Stroth ’02 and Rebekah (Christopher) Stroth ’03 and big sister Madison welcomed their second child, McKinley Grace Stroth. On April 30, Laura (Flanagin) Carden ’97 and husband, Tony, welcomed their forth child, Jack Andrew Carden. On May 22, Shaun Harms ‘01 and Lori (Pearce) Harms ‘98 welcomed a son, James Michael Harms. On May, 27, Aaron Duvall ’02 and his wife, Leslie, welcomed their first child, Gabriel Louis Duvall. On June 11, Aikwan Chong ’95 and her husband, Denver Tam, welcomed their second child, Oliver Ho-Meng Tam.

Homecoming Activities In October, UCA alumni and friends turned out for homecoming festivities on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to take part in numerous tailgates and activities that were stationed up and down Bruce Street prior UCA’s football victory over Sam Houston State.

Staff Sgt. Camelia Ellis ’06 recently returned from her second tour of duty in Iraq. She was originally deployed to Iraq in 2004 with the Arkansas Army National Guard’s 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. She returned to the states in 2005 and completed her bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2006. She began a career as a tax auditor with the Arkansas Revenue Division, Corporate Income Tax, but last March she was deployed to Iraq again. Camelia has served her country for nearly nine years.

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thelastword

I

BY NINA ROOFE

D

id you ever have a day end entirely different than you expected? We probably all have at one time or another. When I was 32 years old and 32 weeks pregnant, I went to work one day and my son was born. 34

UCA MAGAZINE

had enjoyed an uneventful pregnancy up until about 30 weeks. No morning sickness, no cause for concern, not even a weird craving. Then my blood pressure started inching up. I had to go on bed-rest just for one weekend. My doctor then checked me early the next week and said that if my blood pressure was still up on Friday, we would consider bed-rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. I went to work that Friday with a backache and what I thought was incontinence. Of course, I was wrong. My water had broken sometime earlier that morning in one of my many bathroom trips. I was leaking amniotic fluid. I went to Labor and Delivery at the hospital around noon. At 5:10 p.m. on April 16, 1999, my son was born, two months early. Everything I had thought about pregnancy, birth, and motherhood changed in that moment. I had planned to take 12 weeks off, enjoy the summer, go for walks in park, push him in the stroller, lose my pregnancy weight, and play all day with my son. I remember feeling both excited at the birth of our son, and terrified about his condition at the same time. Our friends and co-workers gradually got the word and started coming by. One family brought flowers and a beanie baby. The nurse took the beanie baby with her saying, “Great, we need that.” I thought that was odd, she was “stealing” my son’s first toy. I later learned that the nurses use beanie babies to position the premature babies correctly. Christian’s first doctor was a fabulous woman. She and I had worked together previously through the Outpatient Nutrition Clinic where I worked as a registered dietician. I remember she came into my room after he was settled in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and said, “Congratulations, you have a beautiful baby boy.” I thought that seemed almost normal. Maybe he would be OK and we could go home tomorrow. Then she went on to tell me about his vital signs, weight, and condition. She said he would most likely need to be on a ventilator but she would watch him a little longer to be sure. She said I could go to the NICU and see him before they put him on the ventilator. He looked so tiny and fragile. He had all kinds of monitors and tubes sticking out everywhere, and he had on the tiniest diaper I had ever seen. He was propped with the beanie baby. They were about the same size. When I spoke to him, he tried to move his head in my direction. I was not allowed to hold him, but I could touch him and talk to him. I kissed his head, held his tiny fingers, and said, “Hi Christian, it’s Mommy. I love you.” I thought back to how the day had started. I got up, showered, ate breakfast, went to work, counseled patients, charted—all the while never imagining that my son would be born this day. I could never have imagined we would be facing an eight-week hospital stay. It was like a whirlwind. The emotional roller coaster was another unexpected challenge. Chris could go from critical to improving to guarded and back to improving in a few hours time those


first few days. We ran the full range of emotions – sadness, joy, optimism and guilt – everyday. I never felt so tired, and yet I had not done any physical work. We were told that the path out of the NICU was not a straight line. You definitely take two steps forward and one step back many times before discharge. It is so hard to see the big picture when you are in the middle of it. Outside the NICU were these huge pictures of children with smaller pictures of them in the NICU inset in the corner of the frames. I would look at those pictures everyday to remind myself that we too would be out of here one day. When Chris was five weeks old to the day, we got to bring him home. For the first four months Christian was not allowed to go anywhere except to the doctor or hospital. I would anxiously wait for the time when my husband would get home from work. I would go for a long walk! I had to get out of the house and yes, away from my child for just a little while. I came back missing him already, reenergized, and ready to be a great mother. Having a background in health care and working at a large hospital in Tulsa helped me get in touch with resources available to help. The hospital’s physical therapy department offered Infant Massage and Wee Workout classes. I would encourage any parent to call their local hospital’s education department for available classes. I also became the “insurance liaison” coordinating all of Chris’ doctors and our insurance company. I always made a few phone calls before paying any bill. I also learned my insurance policy well. I knew going into each surgery, doctor visit, or therapy what was covered and how much I was responsible to pay. Each hospital will have an insurance/ patient representative to help people who need it to get on Medicaid or access other available financial resources. Each state also has various forms of financial assistance to help offset the cost of medications, therapy and doctor visits. These are usually accessed through the Department of Heath and/or Department of Education. Being a good partner with Chris’ pediatrician, specialists,

and therapists allowed Chris to receive the care he needed and foster trust and communication within the healthcare team. I kept records or notes of medications, therapies, weight, feeding routines, etc. to share with all the providers. They all needed to know what the other was doing. This saved them time in having to look everything up right then. Another thing I found helpful was to write questions down. That way I would not forget the question when the doctor came in, and writing it down it forced me to really think — has the doctor already answered this, and am I asking exactly what I mean to ask. Keeping a good attitude is also important. This transferred to Chris and I think actually helped his recovery. I tried to stay happy and in good spirits in front of Chris to help decrease his fear. I did all my crying in private. I never lied to him. I never told him, “This won’t hurt.” I would tell him what to expect and always would be there with a hug and a kiss afterward. This sounds obvious, but being part of the team also involved following the doctor’s instructions. I trusted them. They know what they are doing and deserve my respect. Even if I did not understand or necessarily agree, I did not question them in front of Chris. I picked a better time, place, and asked respectfully. In doing so, I earned their trust. Chris will be 10 in April. He is currently being followed for attention-deficit disorder. He also has sensory integration disorder. As with most preemies, Chris is strong-willed. Preemies have to fight for life from day one. Christian is still growing – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. I have friends that along the way ask me, “How do you do this? How can you keep going day to day?” That always amazes and saddens me. I think, “How could I not?” I have no regrets, no sadness, just joy. I can look back at his early years and know I did my best. I took no moment, no day for granted. I found something to celebrate and be grateful for in each day with Chris. I think all parents search for that legacy they will leave their children. When I am gone, I want Chris to look back and know how much I love him, how honored I am to be his mom, and how much joy he brings to my life.

I think all parents search for that legacy they will leave their children. When I am gone, I want Chris to look back and know how much I love him, how honored I am to be his mom, and how much joy he brings to my life.

Nina Roofe, a clinical instructor in UCA’s Family and Consumer Sciences Department, has published a book titled “Growing Christian,” about parenting a premature baby. It is a practical guide to dealing with prematurity through the experiences of Nina and her son, Christian, and it addresses the human and emotional aspects as well as the medical challenges of parenting a premature child.

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University of Central Arkansas Institutional Advancement P.O. Box 4986 Conway, Arkansas 72035-4986

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UCA responds to tragedy See page 36

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8 for more.

UCA Magazine: Spring 2009  

Spring 2009 issue of UCA Magazine, the magazine of the University of Central Arkansas.

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