Category Archives: Undergraduate Student

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.

 

EPIC Spotlight: Bunny Xu

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“There are a lot of corporations in Northwest Arkansas, and Walton College is one of the best business schools.”

One moment, Shicong “Bunny” Xu may be in a laboratory, working toward her biochemistry degree. A couple of hours later, she could be sitting in a classroom at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, listening to a lecture about supply and demand. This is where things start hopping.

She is an economics major, too.

Bunny says pursuing bachelor’s degrees from two different University of Arkansas colleges wasn’t intentional. When she first enrolled at the university, it was at the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, where she indulged herself in science. Yet, she couldn’t ignore her surroundings. “There are a lot of corporations in Northwest Arkansas, and Walton College is one of the best business schools,” she says.

After speaking with Jason Adams, director of the Walton College honors program, Bunny realized she wanted to explore majoring in business as well.
“I found that I liked both, so why not stick with them?”

She says she’s still defining her career path, one that could include the business side of pharmaceuticals or working as a chemist in the nuclear power field, or maybe a combination of the two.

That path included coming to the United States as a 13-year-old with her mother from their hometown of Jilin, a snowy and sometimes bitterly cold province in China. Settling in Rogers, Bunny says the heat and humidity was a dramatic change. “But we love Arkansas now,” she says. “It’s a beautiful state.”

As a newcomer to the United States, Bunny spoke only Chinese and was required to take an English as a second language class her first semester of school. She also followed her mother’s advice of reading 50 pages of English text a day. Bunny caught on fast. After only one semester, Bunny scored high enough on her English proficiency exam to attend classes with the rest of the school.

Four years after moving to Rogers, she was accepted to the Arkansas School of Mathematics, Science and the Arts in Hot Springs. She lived in a dormitory and concentrated on math and science as a discipline, which, she says, was like a smaller version of a university.

In her junior year at the University of Arkansas, she was an Honors student and lists studying abroad in Japan as one of the high points of her college career. She says she hopes to study overseas again, this time in India.

Meanwhile, Bunny is focusing energy on her two honors theses – one involving protein participation under the guidance of biochemistry associate professor Paul Adams. She’s still working out the details for her Walton College thesis.

Bunny is also active in several campus chapter organizations, including the National Retail Federation Student Association, which is sponsored by Walton College’s Center for Retailing Excellence, Circle K International, the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society and the Chemistry Club.

She says she learned to manage her time effectively in high school and usually devotes three to five hours daily to her studies. She says she turns off her cellphone and all social networks on her computer when doing her schoolwork, and she is usually in bed by 11 p.m. and gets up each day at 7 a.m. “Because I get enough sleep, it helps me concentrate better,” she says.

Bunny is also a supplemental instruction leader for economics professor Charles Britton’s macroeconomics class. Each week, she and about 45 students review the previous lesson in her role as both tutor and adviser. “I’ve been in those students’ shoes before,” she says. “I can help them out.”

As for her nickname, she says she initially wanted her adopted American name to be “Bonnie.” This was before she mastered her English, and many interpreted her to say “Bunny,” instead. “I just kind of got stuck there,” she says. “I like it.”

EPIC Spotlight: Brian McCaster

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“You have to ask yourself, ‘What do I want to learn from this?’”

When Brian McCaster was in high school, he spent 11 months in Paraguay as an exchange student. The experience opened his eyes to issues beyond his central Arkansas home near Conway, especially when Paraguayans would ask him questions about the United States’ government and economics.

This past summer, Brian returned to South America, this time to Brazil in the Study Abroad program sponsored by the Sam M. Walton College of Business. He and other students, through the guidance of Walton College economics professor Andrew Horowitz, met with business experts, including those with supply chain management and logistics backgrounds.

Brian plans to graduate in May 2012 with a degree in international business management and a minor in Spanish. He says his classes have been challenging but in a good way.

“Whenever you take those classes, you have to be focused,” Brian says. “You have to ask yourself, ‘What do I want to learn from this?’”

Though this background would make him suited for a career in international business, Brian says it has prepared him for something else: working with high school students and college freshmen. He already has experience in the area. For the past three years, Brian has served as a resident assistant at Maple Hill South dormitory, lending an ear to new students as they adjust to their independence.

Brian says he had planned to enroll in graduate school immediately after earning his bachelor’s degree. A phone call changed everything. A recruiter with Teach for America, a program where leaders commit two years to teaching children in low-income communities across the country, asked Brian to join the organization.

Brian was reluctant at first. “But I got on the phone with this guy, and everything made sense,” he says.

Brian says the program will help him test his strengths before he moves on to graduate school later.

Reaching out to the community’s needs is also Brian’s passion. He has participated with Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), an international nonprofit organization that has a Walton College chapter. His involvement has included replacing light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in low-income housing and working with older people in various capacities from teaching them how to use the Internet to helping build a community garden at the Fayetteville Senior Activity and Wellness Center.

Raised by his grandparents, Brian says his business classes have made him think about his grandfather, who owned a concrete business before retiring. Growing up, he says, he never thought about all of the business decisions his grandfather surely made. Brian says his experience at Walton College gives him a newfound respect for the business and the man, and he now looks to him as a crucial source of guidance.

Brian also seeks guidance at Walton College. Naturally curious, he sometimes visits different professors during their office hours to find out their passions and motivations.

“You can learn something from anybody,” Brian says. “No matter who it is, you can learn something.”

EPIC Spotlight: Audrey Davidson

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The 10-key calculator with a small, paper roll fascinated Audrey Davidson as a child. She watched her mother, a real estate accountant, punch the buttons, causing the calculator to print out numbers as the spool turned. Sometimes, Audrey punched the buttons herself, pretending she was grown up. Add her father to the equation, the chief financial officer of his engineering firm, and it almost seemed inevitable.

Audrey was an accountant in the making.

Several years later, while a high school junior in Webb City, Mo., Audrey took an accounting class. She enjoyed it so much, a year later she became her accounting teacher’s assistant. These experiences stayed with her as she began looking for a college to attend. One university made quite an impression, especially since it is near major corporations with a global impact. “The business school is so well known,” she says. There was also the lure of the Integrated Master of Accountancy (IMAcc) program, a five-year plan that enables students to become certified public accountants.

Her choice: the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.

Now a senior, Audrey has a summer accounting internship lined up at PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Springdale location. The corporation, with headquarters in London, offers various accounting services globally. She says networking through the University of Arkansas chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, an honorary organization for finance honor students and professionals, led to the internship. When she graduates from the IMAcc program and gets her CPA, she says she hopes to return to PricewaterhouseCoopers as a staff accountant.

Audrey says her experiences at Walton College have convinced her she’s on the right path. “All of those classes just instilled in me that I want to do accounting more,” she says.

Her education has also involved traveling globally. During summer break in 2010, she visited Spain where she took classes and lived in a home where nobody spoke English. She says this provided an excellent opportunity to practice her Spanish-speaking skills.

Last summer, she traveled to Belize with a business team from the Walton College where she took an active role in the community by creating a brochure for the city of Dangriga, as well as a cookbook of traditional Belizean foods for a nonprofit women’s cooperative. Audrey and the team also put some muscle work into building a public park, often in very hot conditions.

“We built it mainly out of tires and material we found around town,” she says. “The kids and people of all ages loved it.”

As a Walton College student, Audrey is secretary for Beta Alpha Psi, with duties that include reporting membership information to the association’s national headquarters, and serves as a Walton College Student Ambassador, where she gives tours to prospective business students. She is also a student representative for Becker Professional Education, which conducts CPA exam reviews, and does promotional work such as hanging posters and sending out e-mails on the corporation’s behalf. In addition, Audrey is a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

Away from the university, Audrey has volunteered with the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association, which represents abused and neglected children in the courtroom and elsewhere.

Her college experiences will have a lasting impression when she begins her career, she says.

“The opportunities that we have here as students are endless,” she says.

EPIC Spotlight: Ashleigh Toatley

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Over a four-year span, senior Ashleigh Toatley has gone from being unsure of what field to get into to becoming a leader in her department.
“From a young age, I knew I wanted to major in business, but I wasn’t sure of which specific field,” Toatley said. “Entering into college my objective was to major in a field that was growing and in demand. When I met with Barbara Lofton my freshman year, she told me about this major (called) Transportation and Logistics.”

Since deciding upon her focus, Toatley has plunged headfirst into the world of Transportation and Logistics through her courses in Walton College and extracurricular activities. She is a member of Women in Logistics and has worked with the Supply Chain Management Research Center, which led to her involvement in the University of Arkansas’ Operation Stimulus team.

While working at the Supply Chain Management Research Center in 2008, Toatley organized a research project outlining how interstate commerce trucking regulations vary from state to state across the 48 lower states.

“Through working with Dr. Terry Tremwel, I learned the importance of staying current about what is going on today in the transportation industry as technology and regulations are always changing,” Toatley said. “And though this was the hardest project I’ve ever worked on in my life, it was the most rewarding.”
Toatley made a great impression on the faculty at the research center during her time there.

“We certainly believe that Ashleigh is a talented student leader, but she also excels in research and presentation skills,” said Jim Crowell, director of the Supply Chain Management Research Center. “She displays attention to details and persistence in quality research.”

Crowell and his colleagues were so enthusiastic about Toatley’s performance on the project that they invited her to present her research at a General Electric Conference in Greenville, South Carolina, in front of 200 presidents and vice presidents of major trucking companies.

“It was great to see people interested in what I found so fascinating,” Toatley said.

In addition to being invited to the conference in Greenville, Toatley was also appointed to Walton College’s Operation Stimulus team as a junior. Operation Stimulus is a five-member undergraduate debate team that competes in a national conference in Denver against representatives from 13 other schools with top Transportation and Logistics programs. In the competition, teams are presented with a problem and must use analysis, qualitative and quantitative models, and research to develop the most practical solution.

“(Operation Stimulus) is a great experience because you are among some of the greatest schools in the nation, like Ohio State and Michigan State,” Toatley said. “It’s a great feeling to know that you are representing the University of Arkansas, and you want to apply everything you’ve learned to the case you’re given. It’s also great to work as a team with other classmates because so many minds working together can create extremely creative solutions to problems.”

Toatley will lead the 2010 Operation Stimulus team in the upcoming conference on January 28-30.

Throughout her college experience, Toatley said that Walton College’s faculty has been an asset to her development.

“Having faculty who care about your college career and have great advice to give during challenging situations is the best aspect of the Walton College and the U of A,” Toatley said. “It’s true that you’re not `just a number’ at the U of A. Everything that I’ve learned in the classroom has allowed me to hold conversations with executive professionals in (Transportation and Logistics).”

Toatley has applied her knowledge of the field outside of Walton College. She worked for Tyson Foods for about a year and a half, interning in both the Transportation and Marketing departments.

“It was a great experience (interning in both departments) because I was able to see them operate on a day-to-day basis within such a large corporation,” Toatley said.

Toatley recently accepted an internship at J.B. Hunt, which she said she is looking forward to because it will allow her to continue to apply what she learned in the classroom in the workforce.

After graduation, Toatley said she hopes to join a growing and large corporation, or perhaps to apply to the University of Arkansas’ MBA program.

“So far, I’ve had the opportunity to interview with great companies in Somers, New York, and Omaha, Nebraska,” Toatley said. “Although it has become challenging to manage school, traveling, and work I have enjoyed every minute of the journey as I prepare for the big transition from school to the workforce.”

EPIC Spotlight: Amanda Dooly

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Dancing is Amanda Dooly’s passion. Growing up in Fort Smith, she spent long hours studying ballet as well as contemporary dance styles. Her skills are so strong, Texas Christian University offered her a spot in the School for Classical and Contemporary Dance.

Although Amanda says she had envisioned a career in the arts, by the end of her senior year at Southside High School, she was thinking about other occupations. Her father, treasurer at Baldor Electric Co., played a big role in her decision to pursue a business degree, especially after she traveled with him on a business trip to New York. While there, she and her father met with the global investment bank BNP Paribas. The discussions she had with the directors and vice presidents intrigued her.

When it came time to choose a college, the University of Arkansas, only about an hour north from her hometown, seemed like the logical choice. “I decided to come here because it’s closer to home,” she says. “Family is big to me.”

Amanda says when she first enrolled as a Sam M. Walton College of Business honor student, she majored in international business with Spanish as her focus language. During her junior year, she changed her major to accounting and continued to take Spanish courses in order to complete a minor.

Little did Amanda know that a high school meeting with BNP Paribas would lead her to last summer’s internship with the company. She lived in New York, and her title with BNP Paribas was corporate acquisition finance summer analyst. She analyzed financial data regarding proposed corporate takeovers, acquisitions and mergers.

Amanda says her internship and business courses all point to a bright future. “All of the resources at the Walton College prepare you for a career after graduation,” she says.

Participating in the Walton College Ambassador program allows Amanda to represent the college in different ways, such as giving tours to prospective students.

This doesn’t mean she’s left dancing behind. She is able to choreograph pieces for the Western Arkansas Ballet Company in Fort Smith and the Southside High School Dixie Belles. She also serves on the board of directors of the Dance Coalition in Northwest Arkansas and has even provided her dancing skills to the University of Arkansas. Last year she was Pork Chop, the smallest of the university’s uniformed mascots, and performed at all of the home football, basketball and volleyball games as well as gymnastics meets. Amanda’s family also offers a scholarship in her name through the Western Arkansas Ballet Company to enable aspiring choreographers to attend a summer choreography intensive. As a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, she has served as fraternity educator and step show chair and volunteers with Race for the Cure each spring.

This May, Amanda will continue her education through the Integrated Master of Accountancy (IMAcc) program, a five-year Walton College program where, upon completion in 2013, Amanda will receive bachelor’s and master’s degrees and be eligible to take the certified public accountant exam.

“I have been very blessed to have so many unique and inspiring opportunities available to me throughout my college career,” Amanda says. “I would encourage other students to take advantage of any opportunity they are presented with from the minute they step on campus.”