Angela Darnell has always been in the business of helping people.
For 14 years, she was the voice who assisted people dialing 411 for directory assistance. While at her job, she led her coworkers in a food drive to help Northwest Arkansas’ homeless population.
When her job moved to Texas, Darnell stayed behind and became a radiologic technologist, performing diagnostic imaging examinations for patients so that doctors can prescribe the best treatment.
But Darnell, who lives in Farmington, wanted to continue her education as part of her mission to help others. She knew she loved the medical profession. She knew she loved the business side. Going to school at the University of Arkansas was an easy sell, especially after learning the Sam M. Walton College of Business had launched a Healthcare Executive MBA program, which focuses on health care management. The new MBA was created with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health.
Darnell got on the phone and called Walton’s Graduate School of Business. Mike Waldie, the graduate school’s director, answered. He made a great first impression. When he followed up with Darnell, he made a second great impression. She became one of the first students to enroll in the program.
“He was the deciding factor, actually,” Darnell says of Waldie.
Darnell, both a mom and grandmother with a full-time job, began her coursework the summer of 2017. Like all executive MBA concentrations, coursework takes place both online and one Saturday a month for two years. She has already taken the online courses, U.S. Healthcare System and Health Law. Though classes are conducted online and through conference calls, she describes them as “very intense,” involving timely topics as the state of U.S. health care dominates the news. She spent a good part of her summer working on a paper about human trafficking and its toll on health care.
“It takes a lot of discipline,” Darnell says. “Last night, I was up until 12:30, working on my paper.”
The next morning, she was back at work at her medical job in Springdale.
After a year, Darnell will study abroad with a project to be determined, but it will likely involve health care. This, she says, will provide her with a fresh perspective in the business world.
Darnell grew up near Fayetteville in Lincoln and Farmington. She had wanted to enter the medical profession straight out of high school, but she married at 18 and began a family. Instead of going to college, she worked for AT&T as a telephone operator. While there, she learned how a business operates and took on projects, such as leading a food drive for 7hills Homeless Center in Fayetteville as a member of AT&T’s volunteer group, Telephone Pioneers.
When AT&T moved its operations to Texas, Darnell enrolled at NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville and continued her education as one of nine people accepted with the University of Arkansas for Medical Science’s Fayetteville campus. She graduated with honors with a degree in radiologic imaging sciences, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology/technician. She also passed her board exams with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
She is exploring the opportunities that come with an Executive MBA and is open to all kinds of options, such as working in hospital administration or in a non-medical workplace, for example. Her diversified skills, she says, “brings more to the table.”
Her love for learning has been passed down to her children, who are exploring furthering their education at the University of Arkansas. They come by it naturally.
“If I’m not learning something every day, I don’t feel like I have accomplished anything,” Darnell says.