Category Archives: News

EPIC Spotlight: Jessica Lind

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“I definitely think the Walton College career center is one of the most beneficial programs at the university.”

Jessica Lind has another semester to go before graduation, yet she is already interviewing for a finance job. She says she is confident she will have something lined up by next summer.

She has the George W. Edwards Jr. Career Center to thank. Located in the Sam M. Walton College of Business, the center provides a variety of services from advising students to preparing them for job interviews. Jessica says she has made good use of it.

“I definitely think the Walton College career center is one of the most beneficial programs at the university,” Jessica says.

Jessica, who grew up about an hour south of Fayetteville in Alma and nearby Fort Smith, says she initially took science classes with thoughts of becoming an optometrist. She says she recognized, however, that she might be able to put her math and analytical skills to better use.

It was the business world calling.

She changed her major to finance with a minor in accounting, and she says it’s paying off. When she meets with job recruiters, they’re always pleased when they learn about her accounting background, she says.

They also look at her involvement in a portfolio management class, Jessica says. She is among the 18 students selected to take the class where the students manage The Rebsamen Trust. The student-management investment fund was established in 1971 by the late Raymond Rebsamen of Little Rock.

The class enables her to get hands-on experience with managing a portfolio of equity and fixed-income securities with the added bonus of a special trip to the New York Stock Exchange. The students work on the fund from the Walton College’s Global Markets Financial Center located in Willard J. Walker Hall. “We pretty much live in the trading center,” Jessica says.

Jessica first tried out her business school knowledge when she interned in the summer of 2011 at Arkansas Best Corp., a Fort Smith transportation company. Using a complex mainframe computer system, she researched and compared costs for pricing household moves.

Jessica is a member of the Walton College’s Finance Club and a member of the Senate in the University of Arkansas’ Associated Student Government. She also is vice president of standards for the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks, an elected position where she keeps track of volunteers’ attendance and hours. “I had volunteered there a couple of times, and I really liked the people,” she says.

She also plays many roles in the university’s Greek system. She is Pi Beta Phi sorority’s social chair officer, which involves coordinating events with fraternities and other sororities, and is a delegate for Greeks Advocating the Mature Management of Alcohol. She also serves as an administration committee delegate for the University of Arkansas chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, comprised of eight sororities on campus that administers Pan-Hellenic rules and regulations. Jessica also volunteers with children’s literacy programs and picks up trash on Fayetteville’s walking trails and parks on behalf of Pi Beta Phi’s philanthropy program.

Jessica also knows what she’ll do once she settles into a job: work toward becoming a chartered financial analyst.

EPIC Spotlight: Jennifer Duncan

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“Though I’m not doing accounting, I still get to talk about my experiences, both while at the university and the Walton College.”

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.

EPIC Spotlight: Jeff Honea

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Any visitor to New York City would be remiss in not taking advantage of all of the public transportation opportunities available in the Big Apple. After all, some of the most iconic images of the city involve subways, buses, trains, and the magnificence of Grand Central Terminal.

Jeff Honea helps promote these iconic images for the MTA. A native of Little Rock, Ark., he initially chose the University of Arkansas so he could join friends and move farther away from home. He started in engineering because of his interest in technology and science, but was eventually drawn to the social aspect of business. After reading an ad and discovering he was interested in copywriting, he decided to major in marketing. In addition to his academic work, Honea was involved with the Sigma Chi fraternity, attended many football games, played tennis, and met a lot of friends in the dorms. He also developed a unique business plan during his senior capstone class that involved him becoming a writer for a sitcom.

This passion for writing inspired Honea to move to Dallas after graduation, where he worked for the Dallas Times Herald. When the newspaper ceased, he worked for J.C. Penney in their New York office as a copywriter for the catalog. Here he developed a love the city. Honea bought a listing all of the major advertising executives and sent out 90 resumes in the hopes of getting a meeting and eventually a job. At least three replied, including The New York Times and Bantam Books. Honea worked for Bantam for a short time, creating text for book flaps. Eventually, the Times hired him, and he became the executive creative director in Marketing Services. One of the exciting parts the job was participating in the “Page One” meetings held every day with some of the world’s top journalists. Honea said, “The front page is considered a snapshot in history, so it was always an interesting meeting.” He also worked on a major Times TV campaign that required casting actors who also happened to be readers.

When asked to give today’s students advice, Honea said, “The students should be giving me advice because things are moving so quickly.” He added, “Meeting people and networking is the way to get jobs.”

Honea began working for the MTA in 2008. He is excited about this transition because he considers himself a person who knows a little about a lot of subjects. The role is a great fit considering his interest in science and technology and his love for marketing and advertising.

He remarks, “It feels good to promote public transportation when going green is so important.” In his spare time, Honea enjoys writing books and songs, which are sung by his wife, and can be found on his website, www.theriversidedrives.com.

EPIC Spotlight: Jeannie Waller

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“I think students who want to succeed in business need to be really good at writing.”

For those heading toward the Business Building’s second floor break room, it’s difficult not to notice Jeannie Waller. She’s the one sitting in an office with a large glass window in the middle of a hallway. If prospective students and their families happen to walk by as they tour the campus, Waller says she’ll sometimes give them a friendly wave.

“We call it the fishbowl,” she says.

Behind the giant glass pane, the director of the Writing Center at the Sam M. Walton College of Business can be seen helping students brush up on their grammar skills and other writing needs.

“I think students who want to succeed in business need to be really good at writing,” she says.

The quality of writing can affect how a business performs as well as its employees and shareholders, she says. For students, it can also affect a grade.

That’s where Waller comes in.

The Writing Center, established only last year, serves the business students, staff and faculty at the University of Arkansas by helping them with their writing needs. Students can schedule an appointment through the center’s website, http://waltoncollege.uark.edu/writingcenter/, or drop in, though those with appointments will get priority, Waller says. She says all who e-mail the center typically receive a response within a day.

The Writing Center also holds workshops for faculty members and helps them with questions about writing assignments or creating in-class presentations. “In order to help the students, we have to help everyone,” she says.

Waller says she would like to see the Writing Center eventually serve the community at large, such as those needing help with a resume or writing a complaint letter.

Born in the Arkansas town of Paris, Waller says she lived in Bakersfield, Calif., for 15 years before moving back to the state with her two children. She worked as a registered nurse, delivering babies. Then, one day, she was in a car accident involving a drunk driver. She recovered, but was no longer able to sustain the rigors of lifting and other duties that go along with nursing. In the back of her mind, she always toyed with the idea of getting a degree in English.
So she did it.

She went back to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith followed by a master’s degree in Comparative Literature/Cultural Studies at the University of Arkansas. She is now pursuing a doctorate while teaching composition and technical writing classes on campus – something she does beyond her Writing Center role.

Waller says she enjoys writing humorous short stories, usually about her family. “Because I write about them, they usually get mad at me,” she says.

She says she has also worked with writing programs throughout Arkansas. Waller has worked with teenagers in the Mississippi River Delta and helped with oral history projects. She has also volunteered with the Arkansas Literacy Council, a statewide nonprofit organization that helps adults read, write or speak English better.

There are also personal hobbies, such as cooking, sewing, spending time with her grandchildren and rescuing and aiding cats. Her husband, Kenneth, has been undergoing cornea implants, and the topic has become a personal issue for her as well.

Then, she’s back in her office with the large, glass window, helping all those concerned with proper comma placement and run-on sentences.

“We are like pit bulls,” she says. “We will not stop until they get it.”

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: Jackie Sandoval

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“Walton College is one of the best business schools, so where else would I go?”

Jackie Sandoval had to go to a meeting. She found the room, saw some familiar faces and a place to sit. But once the session began, Jackie quickly realized something was amiss. She was in the wrong meeting.

Instead of getting up to leave and drawing attention to herself, she decided to stay. The guest speaker at the meeting was Lisa Sarmiento, Walmart’s senior director of finance and strategy. Jackie was captivated by this successful businesswoman.

By the end of the meeting, Jackie was eager to become a member of the organization hosting the speaker, the University of Arkansas chapter of ALPFA, the largest Latino association for business professionals and students with chapters nationwide and over 20,000 members. The student chapter, which works with ALPFA’s Northwest Arkansas Chapter, serves as a mentoring program supported by the George W. Edwards, Jr. Career Development Center at the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

Jackie, a junior at the Walton College from Springdale, joined ALPFA and became vice president of community service, where she got fellow students active in charitable work, which included participating in Make a Difference Day. Now, she works 30 hours a week as a finance manager for the ALPFA Institute, which promotes advancement and leadership for Latino leaders globally. In addition, she is doing what many students would find unthinkable: She is a full-time student with an economics and finance double major and a double minor in accounting and information systems. While it may take five years instead of the traditional four to graduate, she says the additional concentrations will provide her with the needed skills that could open many doors for her professionally. “I’m not in any hurry,” she says. “I feel like the experience I’m getting here is invaluable.”

That experience includes ALPFA. Jackie attended its 2012 national conference in Las Vegas, Nev., which enabled her to make contacts and secure an internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Washington, D.C. Jackie says she envisions herself working in the risk management field after graduation.

Jackie’s interest in business began when she participated in several mock trail competitions in high school. She became fascinated with corporate law and had the idea of becoming a lawyer. She made multiple visits to Walton College, looked at how many students got jobs after graduation and several other aspects. It was an easy decision.

“Walton College is one of the best business schools, so where else would I go?” she says.

Since enrolling at Walton College, Jackie says her interest in business grew to the point that law school is no longer on her radar. She says she is grateful for the opportunities the college has provided her.

She also is grateful for the mentorship offered by ALPFA. Jackie says she aspires to pass it on to her fellow students. Currently, she helps students in many ways, such as making professional connections. She plans to continue mentoring students when she’s a professional, especially through ALPFA. “Without the help of ALPFA, I wouldn’t be as far as I am now in my career path,” she says.

EPIC Spotlight: Jack Lim

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“I love the challenge.”

Jack Lim had never been to the United States, let alone Arkansas. But he remembers the exact time and day – 10 p.m., Dec. 31, 1998 – when he got off the plane at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport and was greeted by a student organization, which drove him to Fayetteville as he began a new chapter in his life.

This was not a visit. He had never laid eyes on Old Main. He had never called the Hogs. But when he learned that his college credits from his home country of Malaysia would transfer easier than to the other universities he applied. The University of Arkansas was the obvious choice, he says. Fayetteville was now home.

He enrolled at the Sam M. Walton College of Business where he majored in business management – a field where his father excelled, Jack says. He then became acquainted with the college’s professors, who impressed him. He lived off campus, sharing space with Malaysian and non-Malaysian students as he got used to college life in Arkansas. And the language. He knew English, but Southern colloquialisms, like “y’all” for “you all,” were confusing at first, he says. “It took me three months to get familiar with the English here,” Jack says.

As he focused his studies on small business and entrepreneurship management, Jack received an internship with Chartwells, a division of Compass Group, a food service company that serves the world, including the University of Arkansas. He spent two years there as an undergraduate, where he was trained in management, cost control, scheduling and production. He says interning on campus with a globally recognized company connected him to the outside world without his ever having to step foot off university grounds.

When he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2002, Chartwells offered him a full-time position. The employees there treated him like family, inviting him to special events, such as the American tradition known as Thanksgiving. “I’ve made a lot of long-term friends,” he says.

Jack says that after working eight years at Chartwells, he decided to take on new challenges. He quit his job and returned to Walton College, this time to pursue an MBA with a career track in supply chain management while interning at the Kellogg Co. in Rogers. Internships have worked out well for him, he says. Jack was recently hired to work full time as a senior finance analyst where he manages budgets for the Kellogg sales office in Northwest Arkansas, which does business exclusively with Walmart, the world largest retailer. The latter part of this semester for Jack has meant going to class followed by long days at work, which will continue until he graduates in May. Yet, he says he can’t think of a better place than Walton College to get his business training and networking opportunities. “It’s a life-time experience,” he says.

During all of this, Jack got married. He and his wife, Julina Yu, are expecting their first child in August. He also became a United States citizen. Though his days are spent working a full-time job while going to graduate school and preparing for a little one on the way, Jack shrugs off any notions that life may be a little crazy at the moment.

“It’s a happy price to pay,” he says. “I love the challenge.”

EPIC Spotlight: Isaac West

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Recent Sam M. Walton College of Business graduate Isaac West has three passions: business, faith, and social work. He spent his college years trying to combine these passions and will continue to do so as he enters the workforce.

West said he almost didn’t make it to college. “I never thought I would go to school at all. I grew up really poor and neither of my parents had gone to school. I didn’t think I was smart enough to go to college. I got into bad stuff—doing drugs and the whole party scene—during high school. Towards the end of my junior year, I thought, ‘This is dumb. I’m going to work hard and maybe go to college.’” So, he applied to the University of Arkansas. At first, his application was rejected, but West didn’t let that stop him. He took matters into his own hands. “I came up and talked to some people. I begged them to give me a chance. They said okay and told me not to screw up. So, I started school.”

West said he first majored in accounting, but he quickly realized he was meant for something else. His enthusiasm for giving back inspired him to study organizational management instead. “I saw and read about all these different organization really working hard trying to impact people’s lives, around the world. I saw this common pattern of people having these big hearts, wanting to change people’s lives, but they lack the business sense to run the business side of their operations efficiently. So I thought, maybe I could learn some business and help them out,” he said. “I saw that everything rises and falls on leadership. I chose organizational leadership because I wanted to understand how organizations run and how to manage and effectively lead people to help them reach their organization’s goals.” He chose to minor in economics because he found the subject “a lot of fun.” He said learning how economies work and develop really interested him. “A dream of mine is to go someplace and figure out a way to help the entire economy, to help these people get better educated and build up the economy,” West said.

In summer 2008, West participated in the university’s community development project in Belize, where a group of students aimed to help one town “in any way we possibly could.” West said he wanted to make an impact in the area, but he left frustrated. “There were all these professors who wanted to be completely committed didn’t have the funding to do so. There were professors in charge, but no one was actually leading the project. There were all these brains—all these incredibly smart professors and students—running around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to do stuff and not accomplishing really anything. The big gap in that was leadership. When I came back, I thought someone definitely needs to study this. I saw this gap in lots of organizations that I’d been reading about. This goes back to how I chose my major,” he said.

To help out at home, West mentored elementary-age students at Life Source International, a Fayetteville-based non-profit organization that works with at-risk families. He said he could really see the effect that organizations like Life Source have on those they try to help. He mentored a child who, when West met him, was failing the third grade. In a year’s time, the child was on the honor roll. He said his experience at Life Source taught him about another side of business. “There’s a side of nonprofits that you don’t really learn about in business school,” he said. “It was interesting to learn how you bring families in, or market to a family to bring them in, to try to help them.”

West said his three passions—business, Christianity, and social work—will play a major part of his future plans. “My parents worked very, very hard to give me and my brothers a better life than what they had. I want to do the same thing,” he said. “I want to create a family of my own, but I also want to fight for families around the world. I figure the best way I can do that is not to go start something and do my own thing, but rather stand behind organizations that are fighting for families around the world and trying to help them in any way I possibly can to reach their goals, whether through funding, marketing, organizational development, or just defining their goals.” To reach his own goals, West said he plans on working for three to five years, possibly pursuing a graduate degree, and then “jumping in” at a non-profit organization.

So, what do you get when you pull Isaac West off the shelf? West developed a personal brand statement to let people know exactly what he is all about: “To love God; empower, inspire, dream with, and encourage people; and pioneer ahead to reach the dream God has put in my heart.

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.