EPIC Spotlight: Elizabeth Kyle and Ryan Taylor

Being a freshman can be trying enough. But for those who are honors students, sometimes the worries, and the expectations placed on them, can weigh especially heavy.

Ryan Taylor and Elizabeth Kyle, juniors at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, have found a way to make the transition to college easier for these honors students. They helped form the Honors Peer Mentors program. The program is incorporated into Honors Freshmen Business Connections, a class for incoming Walton College students. While there has always been a small group mentoring program offered through the class, there was only one mentor for about every 30 honors students, Ryan and Elizabeth explain. The Honors Peer Mentors program matches up one mentor for about every 10 students. “It’s going to make it a hundred times better,” Elizabeth says.

Ryan says the Honors Peer Mentors program came from a brainstorming session with the Honors Student Executive Board, which is comprised of students who work toward building alumni relations and organize social and marketing activities for the college. Both sophomores at the time, and in the Walton Honors Program, Ryan and Elizabeth were quick to recall the need for more mentors, especially after Elizabeth served as one herself.

The 15 honors mentors selected are assigned to students. The students are free to talk about their business classes or more general topics, such as adapting to campus life, finances or time management, for example. “The goal of the program is to bring it down to a personal level,” Elizabeth says of the mentoring sessions. “We want the Walton Honors Program to feel like a community.”

Ryan, an international business and economics major, grew up in the south Arkansas city of El Dorado. “I knew I wasn’t an engineer, and I knew I wasn’t a doctor,” he says. He says he aspires to work in the management field and will have an executive sales internship this summer with the Colgate-Palmolive Co. in Atlanta. Ryan says he was drawn to the University of Arkansas for many reasons, including Walton College’s Honors Program. Since enrolling, he has received the Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship, a Chancellor’s Scholarship, Megan Bell Scholarship and a Walton Fellowship. All of this makes the University of Arkansas worthwhile. “It’s the absolute best value in the state,” Ryan says.

Elizabeth agrees. She says when she was in high school she looked “everywhere” for a good college and found it just a few miles south of her Bentonville home. She has since received a Chancellor’s Scholarship, a Walton Fellowship, the Buick National Achievers Scholarship and a Walton College Honors grant to study abroad in Italy through the Consortium Institute of Management and Business Analysis program.

After she graduates, Elizabeth says she hopes to go to law school. She is interested in working in sports, perhaps in team compliance and is doing an internship at the University of Arkansas athletics business office. She also interned last summer with Walmart’s corporate marketing media team. “The opportunities never end,” Elizabeth says. “We’re in a great part of the state.”