Coming from the small Ozark mountain town of Jasper, Jennifer Duncan says she was quite shy when transitioning to campus life at the University of Arkansas. She had attended school with the same 30 or so students from kindergarten through high school. The University of Arkansas, however, was overwhelmingly larger. Finding her place took a little time.
Enrolled at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, she found herself envious of the student ambassadors who gave tours and promoted the university. She wanted to do it. But she just couldn’t overcome her shyness.
A lot has changed since then.
Now, as a recruiter for the university’s Office of Admissions stationed in Dallas, Duncan gives presentations in packed high school auditoriums and other large gatherings. Her travels take her all around Dallas County and four neighboring counties as well, where she visits schools, college fairs, alumni board meetings and anyplace else where she can spread the word about the University of Arkansas.
She credits the Walton College for bringing her out of her shell, even if she doesn’t use her accounting degree in the conventional sense. She says the group presentations required in her business classes had a lasting effect.
“The more we had to do group presentations, the more comfortable I was with talking and working on my presentation skills,” she says. “That has helped me tremendously throughout life.”
Duncan says it was her high school teacher, one who made it “so fun to learn,” who inspired her to major in accounting. This led Duncan to think about becoming an auditor because she says the job requires meeting people – something she enjoys. Yet while working toward her degree, she was also a work-study student in the admissions office. She liked it, and the admissions staff liked her; they found a place for her after graduation.
Following many years of working on campus, Duncan is now the office’s first, and only, regional recruiter stationed away from Fayetteville. She says she finds Dallas area students are already familiar with Walton College. She attributes it to a strong presence by the University of Arkansas Alumni Association, which features Arkansas Connections luncheons with occasional visits from Walton College faculty, she says. Dallas also features one high-profile University of Arkansas alum: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who was named in 2010 to Walton College’s Arkansas Business Hall of Fame.
“Though I’m not doing accounting, I still get to talk about my experiences, both while at the university and the Walton College,” she says.
This is useful, she says, because she finds the majority of students who plan to attend the University of Arkansas sign up to be business majors. She tells them about Freshman Business Connections, which helps acclimate students during their first year of college life, the communications classes and, yes, the group presentations. Also, if they return to Dallas after graduation, they will find many alumni connections, she says.
She also has a message for those who are shy:
“There’s a place for them in the Walton College,” she says.