Category Archives: Undergraduate Student

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: 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: Ethan Spiva

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Ethan Spiva thought he might become a physician’s assistant. It seemed like a natural choice since his mother is an occupational therapist and his father works in pharmaceutical sales.

When he became a freshman at the University of Arkansas, he took some science classes. His second semester in college, he tried out entry-level courses in the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

The connection was there, in a way it never was with the medical profession. He changed his major from “undeclared” to both accounting and finance. With his love for math, this made perfect sense, he says. “I’m very attentive and like having everything in order,” he says.

Now Ethan has immersed himself in the Walton College experience. He says the George W. Edwards Jr. Career Center has been extremely helpful in planning his next move: finding a job when he graduates. He says the center’s staff helped him refine his resume to give it a business focus instead of a general one.

“College isn’t just about your grades anymore,” he says. “It’s about building your resume.”

Ethan is building his resume this summer with an accounting internship at Koch Industries Inc. in Wichita, Kan. He credits the Career Center staff with helping him secure that, too. He says they coached him on how to give an effective telephone interview, which led to his in-person interview with Koch Industries, a company that specializes in energy.

Ethan says he’s keeping an open mind about what he might do after graduation, though he hopes to go into sales, preferably in Cincinnati, Ohio, which he says is a business hub for many major corporations. He says he hasn’t ruled out continuing his education with an Integrated Master of Accountancy (IMAcc) degree and is studying to take the Graduate Management Admissions Test, which one must pass before attending a graduate school in business.

Whatever he decides to do, Ethan is looking forward to the relationships he builds once he begins a career. “The business world isn’t just sitting in cubicles,” he says.

Ethan, of Springfield, Mo., says he was familiar with Fayetteville, having visited an uncle who once worked in Northwest Arkansas. He says the landscape, along with the town’s “strong football atmosphere,” was one of the many things that lured him to the University of Arkansas.

Ethan is active as a Walton College Ambassador, where his duties include giving tours to prospective business students. He is also a member of the university chapter of Students Acquiring Knowledge through Enterprise (S.A.K.E.) and the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, where he will serve as president for 2012. In addition, he tutors for Business Foundations students. Ethan has also served in various roles, including treasurer, for the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. His spare time is spent hanging out with his friends, visiting Dickson Street and watching football games.

Yet, right now his mind is focused on his future, he says. “At Walton College, there are so many opportunities,” he says.

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.

EPIC Spotlight: Diego Beekma

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In 2007, Diego Beekma was one of four students that comprised the first graduating class of Bolivia’s Highland International School. It was an all-male group. “Needless to say, prom wasn’t that interesting,” Beekma said. He decided to attend the University of Arkansas for two primary reasons. One, Bolivian students are charged in-state tuition to this institution; two, it’s home to the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Beekma said his high school principle and advisor encouraged him to study business, particularly at the Walton College. “At the time, I didn’t know much about it, but he directed me that way and I’m glad that he did. Later on, as I learned more about the University and the Walton College, I thought it would be an excellent choice.”

His transition from Bolivia to the United States was a relatively smooth one, though not at first. “I remember my freshman year, I got here and I was just completely lost. At the time, I didn’t realize it, but I think I had a bit of culture shock. I walked out to Garland and Wedington and I just kind of stood there at the corner for a while, staring at everything. Then I went into Harps and just slowly walked around and stared at everything. The supermarkets look the same as they do at home, but I think the sudden change just hit me a little bit,” he said. Since then, he has gotten his bearings. Now that he’s here and accustomed to the school, he said he knows he made the right choice. “The classes are good, but there’s a lot going on outside of class like the career fairs and networking opportunities. There are a lot of resources besides the classroom.”

Since coming to the University, Beekma said building relationships has been important to him. He was a resident assistant in Yocum Hall during his junior year and found great enjoyment there. “I love it. Yocum is awesome.” As a resident assistant, he said the goal is to help students turn school into home. “More than anything, we try to build communities in the halls. We want them to feel part of the University. We want people to get involved.” Because the Freshman Business Learning Team is based in Yoakum, he said he is able to interact with many of his Walton College classmates.

Beekma spends time getting to know potential and entering students, as well. During the summer, he assists with First Year Experience Orientation. He enjoys it so much that he applied for a Walton College ambassador position. He was accepted, and in fall 2010 he’ll be singing the praises of his school to groups of prospective business students. Beekma said he is looking forward to this. “I like interacting with different people,” he said.

Building relationships is just as important in business as it is in life, Beekma said. Networking is becoming increasingly necessary for professional success. “Often times, that’s what a lot of business is. You definitely want to be meeting those people. You want to be making those connections. I think that’s important,” he said. “It allows you to grow professionally.” He said the Walton College has given him skills that he has brought to his extracurricular activities. “Sometimes I know the president of another RSO. Right then and there, we’re just talking; all of a sudden we’re making a connection; then we start realizing, ‘You’re doing a project now, and I’m doing a project later. Maybe we can combine our efforts and help each other out.’ You see that a lot in the Walton College of Business.”

When Beekma graduates in spring 2011, he hopes to keep learning-but outside of the classroom. “I want to see what the corporate world is about here [in America]. What is the work environment here? Hopefully, after that, maybe I can go home [to Bolivia] and be able to apply what I’ve learned.

EPIC Spotlight: Clair Finke

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“When you walk in the halls, there’s always a familiar face.”

That initial view of the Boston Mountains from Humphreys Hall dormitory was breathtaking. The campus was large and the opportunities were exciting. Clair Finke soon learned the rave reviews she heard from her former next-door-neighbor weren’t bogus. The University of Arkansas was where she wanted to go to school.

Living in Leawood, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City, she had many possibilities of where to go to college. When Clair and her parents scheduled a trip to Fayetteville, she went on a campus tour, met with Undergraduate Programs at the Sam M. Walton College of Business and, to get a feel for the “realistic side” college life, visited her transplanted neighbor. Her father was also impressed, she says. Her decision to attend the University of Arkansas was solidified. She is an international business major with a minor in Spanish and economics.

The summer before her freshman year, Clair participated in the Business Leadership Academy, which continues to be offered each summer. Operated by Walton College’s Center for Retailing Excellence and Diversity Programs, it provides incoming freshman a taste of the college life while presenting them business concepts ranging from accounting to presentation skills.

Clair says a high point for her was when a buyer for Walmart came to speak to the academy. “That’s when it hit me I was doing the right thing by going to the Walton College,” she says.

During the program, Clair spoke with an adviser and learned she would be a first-year honors student. With smaller classes provided for honors students in a large campus setting, Clair says she has the best of both worlds.

The teamwork, friendship and little things, like ordering late-night fast-food while working with her fellow students in the college’s Underwood Family Honors Lounge, will be memories Clair will cherish. “When you walk in the halls, there’s always a familiar face,” she says.

She says she has also benefited from Walton College’s established reputation in the business world, like providing opportunities to visit local corporate offices. Clair says she has utilized the George W. Edward Jr. Career Center when needing help writing her resume and gaining information about internships.

As a member of Leadership Walton, which helps prepare students for the business world, she gained an internship in China working as a marketing planner for a travel company. Clair and two other American interns wrote blogs for the company to encourage tourism to the country. She also came up with the idea of having a photo contest on the company’s Facebook page to encourage activity on the website.

She is studying abroad this spring, traveling to Spain to attend the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Then, next summer and fall, Clair will intern for 22 weeks in the Innovations Department at Sam’s Club, where her duties will include merchandising and other assignments. She says the experience will allow her to see a project from the very beginning to its end result.

Clair is a member of the university’s chapter of the National Retail Federation Student Association, where she has served as secretary. Away from Walton College, she is active with the Kappa Delta sorority, where she has held leadership roles.

She says she plans to graduate in May 2014 and is keeping her options open. “Graduate school is definitely on my radar,” she says.

But one thing she says she knows for sure, attending Walton College was a smart decision.

“I love to travel, and I think international business is the right direction for me,” she says.

EPIC Spotlight: Chris Krittenbrink

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“I just think there are so many opportunities at the Walton College, and you don’t realize it until you get deep into it.”

For Chris Krittenbrink, the global experience is already happening. Last summer, he visited South Africa as part of the University of Arkansas’ Study Abroad program.
As a student at the University of the Western Cape, he took economic developmental classes where his studies included the World Bank. He even had an opportunity to hear former Capetown Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak. Through other people’s eyes, he began to see how foreigners view the United States.

There were also projects. “I was in a class where we picked a developing nation and talked about it,” he says.

It was not the first time for Chris, who’s from Norman, Okla., to travel abroad. He says his first overseas experience happened when he was 16 and lived in San Sebastian, Spain, with a host family through a Spanish immersion program. He says the experience led him to consider a career that would allow him to combine his interests for business analytics with opportunities to travel around the world. Majoring in international business management with a minor in Spanish seemed like a good start.

Chris says his parents and sisters all attended the University of Oklahoma, which is located in his hometown. “I was looking for something that was a different atmosphere than Norman,” he says. When he paid a visit to the University of Arkansas, the Sam M. Walton College of Business looked like a good fit for him, he says. The university, located about 250 miles east, provides some independence while being close enough for the “safety net” of his parents should he ever need them, he says. When he began his business classes that fall, his decision was reaffirmed. “On day one, I felt I had someone I could call and communicate with,” Chris says.

Now a senior, Chris says he hopes to work internationally in a profession that deals with identifying and acting on global trends in the corporate structure. He says he would be happy to working in the United States with clients abroad or living outside of the country, if need be. “I’d like my focus to be on global interactions and how to cope with them in daily operations,” he says.

His current daily interactions and operations, however, include student activities such as serving as a Walton College Student Ambassador where, among other duties, he gives prospective students campus tours. It also allows Chris to learn even more about the college. “You get to know everyone who works at Walton College a little better,” he says. His sophomore year, he was also a mentor for Freshman Business Connections, a first-year program at Walton College.

His other activities include membership with the university chapter of the Human Resources Management Association, which brings in local and national business leaders for presentations. He is also a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.

As Chris winds down his final year at school, he says he has had little free time, aside from the occasional tailgating at sporting events or hanging out with friends at local lakes. Instead, he says he takes every opportunity to do homework and tries to minimize his television viewing.

Yet, he says he’ll always value his college education, which he says offers diverse instructors from so many walks of life. “I just think there are so many opportunities at Walton College, and you don’t realize it until you get deep into it,” he says.

EPIC Spotlight: Caitlin Britt

It started as a high school project. The class worked toward getting clean drinking water to Ethiopia, and Caitlin Britt was in charge of fundraising. The students’ goal was met, the water was provided and the class received photographs showing the community benefiting from the clean water. “It made everything worthwhile, and it put a perspective on how we can help others,” she says.

Now a senior at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, Caitlin hopes to channel her altruism by either working for a nonprofit entity or in a corporation’s community engagement program.

Caitlin, who’s from Oklahoma City, is the first in her family to attend the University of Arkansas, and, unlike her parents and sister, is not choosing a career path in the medical profession. With an interest in numbers and history – Caitlin believes the business field incorporates both – she began researching schools that could provide her with the best education.

She was impressed that the Walton College is ranked among the best colleges by U.S. News & World Report. She also wanted to attend a large university that gave a small community feel. The Walton Honors Program provided the surroundings she was looking for, she says.

Majoring in both finance and economics with a communications minor, Caitlin says she feels the concentrations will enable her to pursue many opportunities, which are being made possible with help through the Honors College, Beta Gamma Sigma and Walton Fellowship scholarships. “Being able to have those tools – hopefully to serve the community – would be the ultimate goal,” she says.

This past summer, Caitlin worked as a revenue operations intern for nine weeks at ESPN’s print and media division in New York, where she held a variety of responsibilities. One in particular involved assisting with the sport network’s ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) website, for which she entered data and coordinated polling for the ESPY Awards. Caitlin was one of 70 interns selected in a pool of over 15,000 applicants, and the only one from Arkansas, she says.

While in New York, Caitlin also learned things not normally taught in the classroom: how to maneuver her way through the Big Apple and manage a personal budget. New York also offered great networking opportunities with its abundance in media and advertising, she says.

Caitlin says every undergraduate should get an internship in an unfamiliar city. “It does prepare you for the real world,” she says.

In 2012, she interned with Chesapeake Energy Corp., the nation’s second larger producer of natural gas.

Caitlin is active in Walton College’s many programs. She is co-leader of the Walton College Honors Student Executive Board, which is comprised of Walton Honors Program students who work toward building alumni relations and organize social and marketing activities for the college. She is also a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority, where she serves as the new member coordinator.

She has also had opportunities to give to others. Last year, she studied abroad in Belize with other Walton College students. While there, her team helped create several business plans for community groups, distributed a micro-loan and built a playground.

All of this makes for challenging work, but she says it’s beneficial to the real world and she will carry that knowledge and encouragement by Walton College’s faculty, staff and students for years to come. “I have enjoyed being here so much with the relationships I have made,” she says.