Category Archives: Marketing

EPIC Spotlight: Kristen Zachary

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“My honors classes have really challenged me and helped me grow.”

Some college students spend years figuring out their career path, but Kristen Zachary says she knew it the moment she stepped foot on the University of Arkansas campus.

“When I came to college, I always wanted to be in business,” she says.

That part was easy. Narrowing it down to a major took a little self-discovery. She thought about going into accounting. After all, she had always been good with numbers. But after taking a classes in the Sam M. Walton College of Business, the lure of marketing and communications was too strong to resist.

The consumer behavior courses fascinated her. She also loved the idea of building relationships with other people and entities.

A junior majoring in marketing with a minor in communications, Kristen says she has found the right fit.

“I love people,” she says. “I’m a big people person.”

Kristen says when she graduates in May 2013, she hopes to work for a company or an organization where she can best use her skills. She has already had plenty of practice as an undergraduate.

The Tulsa, Okla., native is vice president of development for her sorority, Pi Beta Phi. Her duties include facilitating workshops, monitoring academics and overseeing committees, she says.

“It’s been wonderful,” Kristen says. “It’s been a great opportunity to serve the women and serve this campus.”

It also enables her to get plenty of practice in public speaking – something that is becoming easier for her.

She also is a co-leader of the Walton Honors Student Executive Board, which is in its first year. Kristen says the group is comprised of 16 honor students who work toward building alumni relations and organize social and marketing activities for the college. Her duties took her to Boston College, where she and another executive board representative visited with hopes of modeling a program similar to one there.

Her summers have been spent working at Camp War Eagle near Rogers, about 30 miles northeast of Fayetteville. This also enabled her to build relationships and develop communication skills.

Kristen also is a member of the American Marketing Association’s university chapter and Gamma Beta Phi, an honor society open to students in the top 20 percent of their class.

Going to the University of Arkansas deviated from the Zachary family norm. She says family members, including her parents, attended Oklahoma State University.

“I just kind of wanted to do something different,” she says. She discovered that Fayetteville is just the place for that “something different” – she’s far enough away for new experiences while being close enough to home to visit on a whim.

All while finding her place in the world.

“My honors classes have really challenged me and helped me grow,” she says.

Kristen values the guidance provided by her professors. She says they care about her as a person and not just a student. “That side of it has been so rewarding – with the advice they have given me,” she says. “I know that they’re there to answer questions. … They’re available.”

EPIC Spotlight: Keri Stubbs

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“The projects that they have in classes are applicable to the real world.”

Working with older people or operating a payment-friendly restaurant affordable to all. These are two ideas Keri Stubbs is kicking around as she majors in both management and finance at Sam M. Walton College of Business.
The thought of working with those much older came to Keri while she was in high school in Cassville, Mo., when she was in Future Business Leaders of America. One project involved making Valentine’s Day cards to give to members of the local senior center.

“They were so nice and so grateful,” she says. “I thought it would be really cool to work with the elderly.”
Fast forward to an entrepreneurship class Keri took at the University of Arkansas. There, she wrote a paper on “pay-what-you-can” restaurants where patrons decide how much their meals are worth. The idea is that those who are financially secure will more than pay the suggested price, compensating for those who can’t, Keri says. Many restaurants have tried this, including Panera Bread. This experimental model, with its obvious challenges, fascinate her. “It’s a risky business,” she says.

As a junior, Keri still has time to figure out her career path. With a minor in marketing, her concentration in three fields can open doors to many opportunities, she says.

Keri could have attended college in her home state. But the University of Arkansas roots run deep in her household. Her parents, who are both from Arkansas, met at a Razorback ballgame. In fact, several of her family members have names engraved on the campus’ Senior Walk, which lists every graduate from the institution.

“I grew up always having been a Razorback fan,” she says.

Keri admits that she briefly flirted with the idea of going to school elsewhere. In hindsight, she says, it was rebellion. When that passed, she applied to the University of Arkansas. It was her only college application. “I haven’t regretted it since,” she says.

Growing up in Cassville, located about 60 miles northeast of Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas is a completely different world from her hometown of about 3,000, she says.

“It feels like it’s a lot farther away from here,” she says. “I like it.”

Once at the university, she says it took her some time to find her place. Freshman Business Connections, a first-year program for business majors, helped, she says. Her participation in the program inspired her to become a Freshman Business Connections mentor, advising new students who were once in her shoes. While she says serving as a mentor to first-year students is rewarding, being a Walton College Student Ambassador, where she gives campus tours to potential students, adds a new dimension to her college volunteerism.

“Getting them before they’re freshmen is always exciting,” she says.

Her involvement with Students in Free Enterprise (S.I.F.E.), now Enactus, where she served on the leadership team, enlightened her to other possibilities a business degree can do. One of the S.I.F.E. projects entailed helping Mama Dean’s Soul Food Kitchen restaurant with its bookkeeping along with assisting a charitable meal program.

She also participates in Leadership Walton, a program offered to business students that provides training applicable to the real world, such as business etiquette, networking and community service.

But it goes back to her professors, who provide the core knowledge she needs to be successful.

“The projects that they have in classes are applicable to the real world,” she says.

EPIC Spotlight: Katy Allen

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Imagine starting a new job, getting married to your high school sweetheart, and enjoying the life of a newlywed. Now imagine all of this happening with the eyes of the nation on you and your husband. Welcome to the life of Katy O’Connell Allen, a recent Walton College graduate, sales support specialist with Acxiom, and – oh yes – the wife of 2009 American Idol, Kris Allen.

Those who watched Idol faithfully during the eighth season may recognize Allen from the audience – a joyful presence who always maintained a sunny smile and happy disposition as she cheered on her husband from week to week. But, onlookers should also know that there is more to Allen than just Idol. In fact, she is a smart, kind-hearted alumna who has represented her state and her company exceptionally well and has proven to be a diligent worker despite all of the distractions – and excitement – that life has thrown at her.

Allen says the Walton College prepared her for both her current position with Acxiom and her position in the American Idol spotlight with her husband, who won the title on May 20, 2009. She notes that her job with Acxiom, which she started in June 2008, was a direct result of being a student in the Walton College and the assistance she received from Renee Clay, assistant director of the George W. Edwards Jr. Career Center. Allen says Clay coached her for the interview process and, as a result, she felt very prepared. In addition to this, her student presentations and research projects enhanced her skill set, as did her study abroad experience in Italy, which, she comments, was good preparation and “a great experience for [her] life now.” When it comes to American Idol, Allen admits that while she isn’t directly involved in her husband’s management, her marketing background does give her the ability to relate to his management team and understand what they’re doing for his career.

Allen is clearly grateful for Acxiom’s flexibility, as they allowed her to work remotely from Los Angeles during the filming of Idol. After the finale, Allen was also able to take a six-week sabbatical so she could accompany her husband to L.A. and New York for press stops, a trip to Disney World in Orlando, and a brief homecoming in Little Rock. She notes that she has a “great boss and supervisor.”

When asked about how she maintains a work/life balance, Allen laughs and says it was a challenge from the beginning. Her wedding to Kris, which she was planning as she started working for Acxiom, could have been a major distraction at the time, but she quickly learned how to keep her focus. During Idol, Allen admits that working on Tuesdays and Wednesdays was the hardest for her since she was usually stressed about the show. Kris, on the other hand, remained relaxed with the mentality that “whatever happens, happens.” As Kris continued to advance in the competition, Allen says it became a “surreal experience” and a bigger deal each week. To make up for the stressful days in the middle of the week, Allen often worked weekends to compensate.

Now, Allen is learning how to take things in stride, thanks to her husband. She admits that she has never been bothered by all of the attention Kris receives because she knows that it’s all a part of marketing him. However, dealing with negativity in the press has been a new challenge they’ve had to face, especially after he won. During the competition, Allen kept up with her husband’s mentions in the media, but some of the negative comments she read after the finale really dragged her down for about a week. Therefore, she decided to quit reading the media reports cold turkey to remove the negativity from her life. She no longer looks at fan sites, blogs, tabloids, or other articles because she realizes that obsessing with what others are saying can ultimately consume you and take over your life. She remarks, “It’s easier to read criticism about yourself than someone you love.”

Another challenge in her life now is planning or, rather, the lack of it. Allen admits she’s always been a big planner and enjoys knowing what’s coming next in her life, but that’s simply not possible now. It’s gradually getting easier for her as she learns to take life as it comes. However, a career change is ultimately on the horizon since she and Kris will be moving to L.A. for a while. No matter what she chooses, though, she believes that Arkansas – and central Arkansas in particular – will always be a home for them.

To face these challenges and others, Allen draws inspiration from her friends and family. She says there are certain friends who are so encouraging and inspirational that they have gotten her through this entire experience. She is also inspired to see Kris be so successful and by others who are grounded and maintain positive attitudes.

In the future, Allen and her husband hope to channel their passions for mission work and humanitarianism by establishing a foundation. She notes that they would like to “do something really cool in a big way” since they have always cared about helping others who are less fortunate.

Allen, who was listed in Google’s Hot 100 Search Trends in May 2009, “loves the Walton College” and “had a great time” here. Where the future takes her, she does not know. However, we’re confident that this former homecoming queen will continue to shine in the spotlight.

EPIC Spotlight: Dr. Katie Kelting

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“The resources for the lab here are amazing.”

Dr. Katie Kelting had just graduated from high school and was getting a jumpstart on her college career as she sat in orientation, waiting to enroll in summer school. When she was asked to pick a major, she deferred the matter to her father, the chief financial officer for a bank.

“He said, ‘I think business is good,’” she recalls.

She never looked back.

Through the course of her undergraduate career, she took the requisite business classes. But one called Principles of Marketing hit home with her.

“I loved learning about all of the ‘behind the scenes’ strategies that marketers use to understand and attract consumers,” she says.

Inspired, she asked her professor if she could be his teaching assistant the next semester. As she applied what she was learning to the real world, she became captivated by the celebrities who endorse products on television and magazines. As a sports fan, athletes caught her attention the most. Her interest became so strong, it was the topic of both her honors and graduate theses while attending school at the University of Florida, she says.

“Celebrities are not in a box,” she says. “They’re real people doing real things.”

With the explosion of reality television and social media, Kelting says consumers are more celebrity-obsessed than ever, and they’re watching them closely. So is she.

“Celebrities have more meanings,” she says. “We’re getting to know celebrities’ professional and personal lives more.”

One celebrity she’s very familiar with is former NBA basketball player Michael Jordan, whose endorsements include Gatorade, Nike and Hanes. Those products, she says, are a good fit for him – ones that people easily associate with sports. But when golfer Tiger Woods endorsed Buick in the early 2000s, the public didn’t embrace the message; they associated him more with high-end luxury cars. Some, she says, are just strange, like when rap musician 50 Cent endorsed Vitamin Water.

After earning her doctorate from Indiana University in 2011, Kelting is starting her first academic year as a marketing assistant professor at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, where she teaches Introduction to Marketing Strategy. She says one of the things that lured her to the University of Arkansas was the research facilities at the college, which she says are at an “elite level.”

“The resources for the lab here are amazing,” she says.

The faculty and staff also impressed her, she says.

“I feel I’m the most successful when I’m surrounded by nice people who are smart and will challenge me,” she says.
In addition to celebrity advertising, Kelting says she also researches private-label branding. “Retailers are introducing more and more private-labels into their stores,” she says. Kelting says she’s exploring how the presence of a private-label in a category affects consumer purchases.

Away from work, Kelting spends time with her husband, Bobby, a physical education teacher and coach in Rogers. She says they spend every spring break with their family and some close friends snow skiing in Colorado. She also likes to exercise, including running.

Naturally, spare time also means watching sports on television. And paying attention to the commercials.
“I’m a Gator fan, so I love Tim Tebow,” she says. “He makes a really unique celebrity endorser.”

EPIC Spotlight: James “Jammer” Orintas

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“Planning is the key to success.”

The floodwaters took over much of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. This could have spelled the end for Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza, which had opened only eight months earlier on the edge of the city’s Garden District.

The home of James “Jammer” Orintas sustained serious roof damage that displaced him for a few months. Yet his pizzeria was spared. He consulted with his partners and they agreed: Theo’s needed to re-open as soon as possible.

And it did in early October of that year. Theo’s provided relief for those with flooded homes and others suffering from power outages. For many, cooking at home wasn’t an option, Orintas says.

A citywide curfew limited Theo’s operating hours, while Katrina itself limited the availability of menu items. For the following six weeks, diners had a choice of either pepperoni or sausage pizza with Budweiser, Bud Light, Coke or Diet Coke.

The place was packed. “We ran out of food every single day,” Orintas says.

Theo’s also looked out for the public workers trying to restore the Crescent City.

“The police were working out of a city bus across the street from us,” Orintas recalls. “We took pizzas over.”

Now, eight years later, Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza survived Katrina and has even expanded, with two other locations in the New Orleans area and thousands of “likes” on Facebook.

Orintas – who was given the nickname “Jammer” by his father when he was one of five other students named James in his kindergarten class – didn’t immediately go into the restaurant business after earning his bachelor’s degree in finance in 1999 at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Instead, Orintas worked as a budget analyst for the Al Gore-Joe Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000. He then spent four years as a financial analyst for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

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Yet, he kept looking back fondly to his younger days when he worked at U.S. Pizza in his hometown of Little Rock and, later, in Fayetteville as a university student. “I thought it was a great experience,” he says. “It was really fun.”

The idea of opening a pizzeria was sparked when Orintas’ buddy and fellow Arkansas alumnus, Greg Dietz, complained to him there wasn’t any good pizza in New Orleans, where he lived. The city known more for its gumbo and jambalaya was in dire need of a quality pizzeria.

Orintas, Dietz and their friend, Ted Neikirk, also a University of Arkansas alumnus, took the plunge. They opened Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza, a friendly place with brick walls and concrete floor and exposed ceilings and an extensive pizza menu with items named “Hawaii 5-0” and “Vegan-ator”. Sandwiches and salads are also available. “To me, it has the feel of a pizza joint,” Orintas says.

He says his management and marketing classes at Walton College have been especially helpful in operating a business. “When you have 85 staff members, the day-to-day management of that alone is difficult,” he says.

The business is growing. He and his partners are looking for a fourth pizza location. They have been approached with franchising opportunities, but Orintas says they prefer to wait.

Orintas advises anyone starting a restaurant business to do their homework. That would include negotiating the best, affordable lease as well as structuring management and employees – all while keeping a good, consistent product. “Planning is the key to success,” Orintas says.

EPIC Spotlight: Heather Phillips

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Hailing from the “Spinach Capital of the World”, Alma, recent graduate Heather Phillips made her mark on the Sam M. Walton College of Business.
Phillips was chosen as the Walton College Outstanding Graduating Senior as well as one of the Outstanding Students in Marketing and Logistics.

While awaiting her entry into the Peace Corps, Phillips is interning at The Harvest Group, a sales and marketing firm in Rogers. “I was accepted into the Peace Corps in February,” Phillips said. “I am now anxiously awaiting the official invitation that will tell me where I am going and when I am leaving.”

Phillips was nominated for the Business Advising program where she says she will be able to use her education to help small business owners in developing countries. “Although I would love to go somewhere warm, I chose the option that said I was willing to go anywhere,” Phillips said. “I have no idea where I will be sent!”

Always having a passion for helping those less fortunate led Phillips to choose the Peace Corps as the perfect route for her to take to combine both her interests and her major. “I have always thought about the Peace Corps as an option,” Phillips said. “I did not decide to apply until Christmas break of my senior year.”

Phillips said during her last year of school she volunteered at Seven Hills Homeless Shelter where she said throughout college she developed a love for the homeless culture. “This probably started when I went on a four week long Campus Crusade for Christ inner-city program in Seattle,” Phillips said. “I had the opportunity to work with the homeless, as well as with people in prison.”

“I have the utmost respect for the business school,” Phillips said. “When I entered college I did not know what I wanted to do with my life, but when I was advised by some older friends to not go as an undeclared major, I randomly decided to major in General Business, and then later found my niche in marketing.”

Phillips said it never ceases to amaze her how the Walton College has perfected the art of making its students a “tight-knit” community. “I have come to know and care about a large number of my professors because they truly care about their students’ success inside and outside of the classroom.”

Phillips said her parents are always impressed by how well she knows her professors, “it is simply not something you find at every university or even in every college at the University of Arkansas.”

As a freshman honors student, Phillips was put into a classes with the same group of people and she said it was nice to get to know her classmates early on because those were the people she had classes with during her entire college career. “The whole honors section became really close,” Phillips said. “I’ve already been to three of their weddings this summer!”

Phillips was also actively involved in her sorority, Pi Beta Phi, during her college career.

EPIC Spotlight: Hayley Cocker

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“The students are really bright. The research is brilliant.”

Hayley Cocker first learned about Arkansas from a jigsaw puzzle. She remembers as a child sitting in her home in Lancaster, England, putting together puzzle pieces that composed a map of the United States.

Sure, she knew about New York and California. But Arkansas? “It was one of the states I never really heard about,” she says.

That changed two years ago. A Ph.D. marketing student with Lancaster University in Lancaster, England, she presented a paper at a doctoral seminar at the University of Southern Denmark. It would be there – not the United States – when Arkansas began to have meaning to her life. Doing a presentation at the seminar was Jeff Murray, marketing department chair at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. With him was Anastasia Thyroff, a Ph.D. student from the college.

Hayley says she was impressed with their work and accepted their invitation to visit the University of Arkansas for a doctoral workshop. The experience was so rewarding, she says, she jumped at the opportunity to return this fall to teach integrated marketing communication at Walton College as she completes her doctorate.

She says her Walton College experience so far has been very rewarding. “The students are really bright,” she says. “The research is brilliant.”

It has also been a great time to share her country and background with her students. Hayley says one way she does that is by playing music from northwest England, where she’s from, such as rock band Oasis or some grime music, a genre of hip-hop that’s popular there. Her students have been known to return the favor; they have familiarized her with country musicians Alan Jackson and Tim McGraw.

Hayley says her interest in marketing began when she was an undergraduate business student at Lancaster University. She took courses that included management and economics, but her marketing classes resonated with her most, especially when it came to examining consumer behavior. “I have always been really curious and inquisitive about people,” she says.

She continued her education by earning a master’s degree in advanced marketing management at Lancaster University before working briefly in the business world for a research agency. While she says she enjoyed doing research, she found herself missing academia. Hayley wanted to teach.

Which brings her to the University of Arkansas, where she’s spending her final stretch as a doctoral student, teaching in an environment surrounded by consumer culture theory professors and students, she says.

The environment also aids in her research, which includes studying alcohol consumption practices among young adults with noticeable differences between those in the United States and the United Kingdom, she says. She also is studying how celebrities lend meaning to consumers’ lives.

While in Arkansas, she does a little local observing as well. For example, she says she finds herself photographing grocery store items on her smartphone and sending them to her friends and family back home. A jar of mayonnaise, for example, is monstrous compared to those in England, she says. Because it ties in with marketing, she pays close attention to television commercials as well.

Hayley says she is also taking time to indulge herself in the American experience. For example, she drove a Ford Mustang to Memphis and visited Graceland – Elvis Presley’s former home – as well as the National Civil Rights Museum and other tourist spots. She says traveling has been a normal part of her doctoral studies, but it’s usually for short periods of time. “I’ve never actually been away from my hometown, so Arkansas is really a huge deal for me,” she says.

EPIC Spotlight: Hannah Hobson

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“Because of my experience in the Walton College, I now look at the world through a marketing lens.”

Beginning a new school and an entirely new era in your life is both thrilling and intimidating as you enter your freshman year in college. Fortunately, the Sam M. Walton College of Business helped me in this adjustment by providing me the opportunity to attend the Walton Block Party the first week of school. It became a tradition to attend the block party every year to receive free stuff, free food, and most importantly, meet new faces. During my time at the Walton College, I have learned the importance of relationships and how fostering them can help you achieve your goals.

I have had the pleasure of learning from professors who have a passion for what they do. Professors such as Carole Shook, Dub Ashton, Steven Kopp and Molly Rapert have been instrumental in developing my passion for marketing. The pursuit of a marketing education opened the door for me to serve as an assistant marketing director for Chick-fil-A in Rogers, which then led to my current internship with Colgate-Palmolive. During the class Markets and Consumers, I was encouraged to pursue a major in marketing by Carole Shook. Although many professors might not understand the impact they have at moments like this, when the student is asking for advice such as which major to choose, these little moments are remembered and become stepping stones along a much larger path.

Dub Ashton had the ability to make a 7:30 a.m. summer session class one of the most intriguing and engaging classes I have taken in my college career. (Talk about talent!) His method of teaching in Introduction to Marketing Strategies has benefited me greatly because I can still recall much of what he taught, and it since has been retaught in my upper-level marketing classes. When I would visit with him, he was always kind, and always made sure I learned something new. Once when we were in the midst of a conversation, he reached into one of his bookshelves to pull out a book. He then gave it to me as a gift. To this day, I am still surprised he gave me a book that had his personal highlights in it.

Although I was disinterested in Marketing Research initially, as I dedicated more effort to the class it became my favorite of the semester and Steven Kopp became another professor who would influence my life in a positive way. He continuously helped students and would often become excited about a topic during class lectures. He was passionate about what he taught and was always encouraging and friendly. I saw him recently on campus and he said, “Come visit me anytime!”
During this semester, Molly Rapert has demonstrated an area of marketing that I have never experienced before. The creative, innovative and ever-changing side of marketing is exciting and stimulating. Her Marketing Management class is structured in such a way that it enables the freedom for students to actively engage in creativity through assignments, projects and exams. It is because of her class that I feel comfortable discussing current marketing trends with potential employers.

As a sophomore, I was able to meet Renee Clay and was urged by her to join Leadership Walton. Leadership Walton gave me a jump-start on career preparation through events such as career fairs and resume revision sessions. It was through a career fair, and through the level of professionalism I attained from Leadership Walton, that I was able to acquire an internship with Colgate-Palmolive. While working with Colgate-Palmolive, I have learned many skills and gained valuable knowledge I expect to utilize in future occupations.

Every semester, the Walton College has presented me with projects within my classes. This semester, I am working on several projects that I am excited about, including working with the nonprofit Youth Strategies to create a cause-marketing plan through my Nonprofit Marketing class and working with Ozark Natural Foods through my Marketing Management class to create marketing strategies to implement within the store.

Because of my experience in the Walton College, I now look at the world through a marketing lens.

Reflecting on my first week at the University of Arkansas, when I was intimidated by the uncertainty ahead, I realize that I am writing the last few sentences in perhaps one of the most meaningful chapters of my life. I am truly grateful for all those in the Walton College who have invested in me. It is because of them that I am more prepared to meet the uncertainty that is certain to occur. As I finish writing this chapter, and begin the next, I know that much of what I have learned while attending the Walton College, with particular emphasis on relationships, will guide my pen.

EPIC Spotlight: Elijah Garcia

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Each year, Elijah Garcia and his family would load up the car and travel from his hometown of Santa Fe, N.M., to visit relatives in Northwest Arkansas. It was one of the few times he would ever get to travel, but he always enjoyed his visits. “There’s a lot of stuff to do in the area and a lot of opportunities here,” he says.

Now it’s time to pursue those opportunities. Like many University of Arkansas students nearing graduation, he’s interviewing for jobs – some of his contacts were made at a career fair held on campus. While he says he’s keeping his options open, should he end up staying in Northwest Arkansas, it would be fine with him.

A senior retail and marketing major at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, Elijah has spent the past year working as a management trainee intern at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Fayetteville. He says his duties include serving as a middleman between insurance adjusters and the managers of rental vehicles in northern Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas. When Enterprise sponsored a competition among the region’s interns, Elijah came in second with his presentation and won first place overall, earning a scholarship.

Elijah says his decision to attend the University of Arkansas was an easy one. With family in the area, he knew the transition to the next stage in his life would go smoothly. When he learned more about Walton College, it was practically a no-brainer. “That Walton College is highly respected and highly ranked made my choice a little bit easier,” he says.

He paid a visit to the campus before enrolling, and the first thing that impressed him was the buildings with the latest technology, especially Willard J. Walker Hall, which, on the third floor, features a stock market ticker that can be viewed from the second and fourth floors. Then, he met the professors, whom he calls “topnotch.” It all felt right.

One aspect he’s taken advantage of as a college student is traveling. Elijah, who has a Spanish and economics minor, studied abroad for five weeks in Puebla, Mexico, visited New York and, most recently, New Orleans on an AMA trip. He is also a Silas Hunt Scholar and served as a mentor his sophomore year.

Elijah is active with the American Marketing Association’s student chapter where he serves as vice president of fundraising. He says the experience has been invaluable in getting a taste of the corporate world. The group has been researching with Walton College’s supply chain department a “scan and go” app where Walmart and Sam’s Club customers can scan their purchase items with their smartphones before paying at a self-checkout station, he says.

There are also group activities in his Walton College classes, which he says has enhanced his communication skills. “A lot of the group work has really led to my maturity as a professional as well as a person,” he says.

When he’s not in the classroom, Elijah can be found on the campus’s athletic fields, participating in intramural sports. His flag football team recently won the men’s championship. Now, with his college career about to come to an end, there will be new opportunities to champion.

EPIC Spotlight: Dylan Breeding

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Nobody offered him scholarships. Nobody recruited him. But Dylan Breeding knew he had to try for a spot on the Arkansas Razorback football team.

A talented punter, Dylan dreamed of playing college football. Ideally, it would have been for the University of Alabama, located near his hometown of Hoover, Ala. But when there was no opening for a punter on the Alabama Crimson Tide football team, he began looking elsewhere.

The Razorbacks needed a punter. He contacted the coaches.

“They were really excited that I was coming,” he says. “But nothing was promised.”

In June 2009, immediately after graduating from high school, he moved to Fayetteville, enrolled in summer school and, by August, began football practice, where he was designated as a preferred walk-on, which assured him a spot on the team but no scholarship money.

Two days before the 2009 football season began, Dylan was informed he would be the starting punter. From there, it kept getting better. That season, the team went to the Liberty Bowl. The next year, it was the Sugar Bowl. Then, in January, Dylan punted in the Cotton Bowl with a win that ranked Arkansas No. 5 in the nation. (His career long, so far, happened against Louisiana State University last November with a 70-yard punt.)

As a punter, Dylan explains his role on the Razorback team succinctly.

“My goal as a punter is to give our team the best field position possible,” he says.

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He’s also working for the best position possible off the field. One way he’s doing it, he says, is by attending the Sam M. Walton College of Business, where he’s majoring in marketing. Even with training, practice and football games on the road, Dylan is in the Walton College Honors Program, which motivates him to keep at his best, he says. That means studying whenever he gets a chance, especially on Sundays. “The discipline is that I don’t sleep much,” he says.

Dylan says playing professional football is his goal, though he says he feels he needs to improve. “I would like to play football in the future, but I need to be able to fall back on a career as well,” he says. Intrigued by marketing concepts, Dylan says sports marketing would “obviously be the way to go.”

He says his first visited to the University of Arkansas was a bit of a whirlwind tour. But he says he soon learned that Walton College had a great reputation. “I liked the business college – it being so prestigious,” he says.

Since coming to the university nearly three years ago, Dylan has earned a scholarship. He also was nominated for the Brandon Burlsworth Trophy the past two seasons, which goes to an outstanding football player who began his career as a walk-on, and the Rudy Award, which honors student athletes who demonstrate exemplary character, courage, contribution and commitment as members of their team on and off the field. In January, Dylan was selected to the 2011 Southeastern Conference Fall Academic Honor Roll and the All-SEC second team for football.

Off the field, and outside of the classroom, Dylan is active in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which has active Razorback members, and speaks to groups on behalf of the organization. He also plays golf.

One other thing has happened as well: confidence.

“I don’t feel as much pressure as I used to,” he says. “I just take it one punt at a time.”

Dylan says he expects to graduate this December, which leaves him a few months until the NFL draft. “I’m going to stay up here, train and hope for the best,” he says.