Category Archives: Alumni

EPIC Spotlight: Ben Rector

“I've just been really fortunate to do something that I love.”
“I’ve just been really fortunate to do something that I love.”

A lot has happened since Ben Rector performed concerts downstairs from the cafeteria of the Pomfret Hall dormitory. As an undergraduate, Rector was juggling two worlds: that as a marketing student at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, and the other as an up-and-coming musician with weekend gigs.

“I tried to stack all my classes on Tuesday and Thursday, and leave Thursday night or Friday morning,” he says. “That was an interesting double life.”

In between hitting the books, Rector was always finding ways to make some pocket change through performing, and even managed to release a music album his freshman year. In 2006, he won the grand prize in the pop category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for his song “Conversation.”

By his senior year, the singer-songwriter whose diverse music talent ranges from folk to pop had released three full-length albums, performed about 200 gigs and was engaged to be married. He also made another big decision about life after graduation: moving to “Music City U.S.A.” – also known as Nashville, Tenn.

That was in 2010. Rector and his wife, University of Arkansas graduate Hillary Swanton Rector, have since watched his career flourish. His 2011 album, “Something Like This,” peaked at No. 15 on Billboard magazine’s Top Rock Albums and fared even better at No. 11 in each category for the magazine’s Top Digital Albums and Independent Albums. His music has been featured on television shows from “ESPN SportsCenter” to ABC’s “Modern Family.”

youtubevideo

In high school, Rector filled much of his time writing songs, playing the guitar and singing. “It felt really natural for me, and it was something I really enjoyed,” he says. But there was the matter of college. His older sister had attended the University of Arkansas, which wasn’t far from his Tulsa, Okla., home. He says he already liked Fayetteville from visiting here. When the university offered him a scholarship, it was hard to refuse, he says.

As for a major, he decided marketing would provide a good foundation to just about any career he pursued. When it was apparent that having a music career was essentially launching a business, he began applying things he learned from his business classes. Now, Rector says he plays an active role in finding new and creative ways to market his songs and concerts. “Obviously, the huge part of making music is, hopefully, that people will know you are making music and want to buy it or want to come to shows,” he says. He says he found good mentors in Dr. Molly Rapert, marketing associate professor who already knew his sister, and Mark Risk, a real estate instructor with the finance department who encouraged Rector with his aspirations in music. Rector, in fact, did a commercial real estate internship in Dallas as a student. “I spent a lot of time at the W-C-O-B,” he says.

After a tour this spring, there’s no time for rest. Rector says he’ll release a new album followed by another tour, possibly in the fall at the earliest. And he doesn’t mind at all. “Things have grown quicker than I thought they would,” he says. “I’ve just been really fortunate to do something that I love.”

(Posted May 2013)

EPIC Spotlight: Ashley Jancuska

AshleyJancuska

One might suspect that a Walton College Honors student would aspire to be an accountant, an investment analyst or an economist — but a physician?

Ashley Jancuska knew in high school that she was passionate about both business and medicine. The Walton Honors Program did not force her to choose between them – it equipped her for both.

“One day, I hope to use the knowledge that I have acquired in my Walton College classes to open and successfully manage a private medical practice,” she said.

“The Walton Honors Program fosters a feeling of camaraderie and community,” Ashley said. “Beginning with the freshmen core and continuing through my four years here, the small honors sections have provided me the opportunity to truly get to know my classmates on a personal level. Additionally, these sections allowed me to also get to know my professors.

“I enjoyed the challenge that honors classes provided as we explored topics in more detail. For example, the honors colloquium classes offered in my junior and senior year gave me an opportunity to study topics which are not traditionally covered in the normal business curriculum, like technical analysis and data mining. With the guidance of our professors, we are able to apply our knowledge to solve current business problems.”

Here at the university she is involved in Walton College’s alumni network and her sorority, Kappa Delta. She also volunteers in the Fayetteville community through Habitat for Humanity and the Northwest Arkansas Free Health Center. She served as a co-project leader in Students In Free Enterprise, where she was responsible for identifying the needs of students at the Fayetteville Adult Education Center and developing a program to address those needs.

Ashley also has studied abroad twice while at the University of Arkansas. She studied international business and e-commerce in Greece and global consumerism in Italy. As a member of the Walton Honors Program, she had access to “a number of grant and scholarship opportunities available to help defray the costs of studying abroad,” she said. Ashley said these grants and scholarships allowed her to “engage in international learning experiences and gain insight into other cultures.”

After completing her undergraduate degree, Ashley plans to attend medical school where she is interested in pursuing either primary care or sports medicine. She is excited to combine her business and science knowledge to effectively communicate and manage both administrative and clinical staff. Ashley is grateful to the “top-notch faculty, supportive advisors and abundant resources” that the Walton Honors Program provides to assist her in continuing her success.

EPIC Spotlight: Alexandra Kosmitis

AlexandraKosmitis2

For recent Sam M. Walton College of Business graduate Alexandra Kosmitis, college was about balancing education and extracurricular activities. When Kosmitis wasn’t in class pursuing her accounting degree, she was active in her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, serving as chapter president and, later, Panhellenic president for University of Arkansas Greek Life.

When Kosmitis moved from her Pine Bluff home to the University of Arkansas, she knew what she wanted to study. “I knew I wanted to do business before I came to school, and I knew the Walton College had a good program.” She said the Walton College core curriculum gave her a taste of each major branch of study, which helped her find out what fit her best. “When I got through the big four subject areas, I decided I didn’t really like marketing, information systems, or economics, but I liked accounting,” she said.

Kosmitis said she also knew she wanted to be a part of the Greek system. She rushed Zeta Tau Alpha her freshman year and later served as chapter president. She also served as step team co-captain with her fellow senior Zetas at the 2010 Sprite Step Show. Her team won the grand prize: $100 thousand for scholarships and education. “It was a really great experience.” There was, however, a bit of controversy over their win. Two days after the competition, another team, Alpha Kappa Alpha from Indiana, was named co-champion. Kosmitis said that didn’t cheapen the victory, though, and the Zetas got to keep all of their prize money.

Kosmitis said she has really enjoyed her time in Fayetteville. “I really like the University. It’s been a good experience.” Her favorite part: “The people I’ve met, especially in the Walton College. You get so close to them because you have those four core classes together and, in your major, you have classes with the same people, so you really get to know other people really well.”

Kosmitis has graduated from the Walton College, but she will return to campus in fall 2010 to attend the University of Arkansas School of Law. “I’ve always wanted to go to law school. My aunt is a lawyer, so I’ve shadowed her before. Also, the summer after my freshman year, I interned with Judge Jody Dennis in Pine Bluff and I liked it a lot,” she said.