EPIC Spotlight: Amy Farmer

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Dr. Amy Farmer has seen the struggles of undeveloped countries. She thinks students should see them, too. And then do something about it.

Farmer, director for the Office of Global Engagement at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, says she was motivated to get students involved in bettering impoverished communities after seeing conditions firsthand following visits to Peru and the African countries of Botswana and Zimbabwe. “As an economist, I would look at the conditions as the lack of opportunities,” she says.

Now, each summer, through the U of A Walton College Study Abroad program, Farmer takes Walton College students to Dangriga, Belize, for three weeks. Then, she takes another group to Nampula, Mozambique, for four weeks. “I felt compelled more from a personal level that students need to experience the world – and not necessarily their own,” Farmer says.

Partnering with other University of Arkansas colleges, the students combine their knowledge and skills to make lasting improvements.

Farmer says some in Dangriga, with about 9,000 residents, were leery of the group at first. They had seen many organizations come to help their communities, only for them to never return. Yet, each year, students come back, effecting change, whether it be resurrecting a business destroyed by fire, helping an entrepreneur with a business plan or getting someone a small business loan. The engineering students help with water purification and with building gazebos and wheelchair ramps. Health students may assist with diabetes testing and hospice care, Farmer says.

“We have friends there,” Farmer says. “They look at us as a friend.”

In Nampula, Mozambique, which has a very high unemployment rate, students help with a poultry farming business called Novos Horizontes. Investors created the business to help local people set up their own farms as a means to alleviate poverty and provide a nutritional food source. The students help farmers design water purification systems to keep chickens healthy and address any other of the farmers’ needs. The farmers often have chicken houses made from bamboo and thatch and without electricity. With no plumbing, many must haul water from the river. Yet, they’re working hard and succeeding, Farmer says.

Farmer says she would like expand the study abroad projects to Southeast Asia, such as Vietnam. “I think it’s just another part of the world where significant development is happening,” she says.

These experiences have given her students an edge in a global business world, Farmer says. Others, following graduation, have continued with humanitarian efforts. “I have had a lot of student who have gone into the Peace Corps,” she says.

Farmer has been an economics professor at Walton College since 1999 before assuming her current role with the Office of Global Engagement. She has taught both graduate level and honors undergraduate level courses.

Her research often focuses on the bargaining system. She says, for example, she has found that if people are willing to settle a conflict, such as with a court case, they usually follow through with what they agreed upon better than a judge’s ruling.

“Economics is, really, about how people respond to incentives,” she says. “It’s not just about the economy.”

Farmer’s work has been featured in publications such as Journal of Legal Studies, American Law and Economics Review and the Journal of Business.

She says the University of Arkansas fosters a great environment for both teaching and research. “The Walton College is a very collegial, productive place to be,” she says.

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.”

EPIC Spotlight: Alice McMillan

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Alice McMillan is determined to make the most out of her time at the University of Arkansas. The Kansas City native is a junior in the Sam M. Walton College of Business and is pursuing a degree in marketing with a minor in Spanish. In addition to her studies, McMillan participates in several programs and organizations on campus.

A number of factors contributed to her decision to attend the University of Arkansas. “I was looking for an opportunity to get out of [Missouri]. I wanted to experience something that I hadn’t gotten the chance to experience before. This school is one of the most affordable and the best deal at the same time,” McMillan said. She received the Silas Hunt scholarship, which not only helps pay for tuition and fees, but also waives her out-of-state tuition. “Also, the culture down here was nice. It was really friendly and I liked the vibe I got when I came for a campus visit. It’s a big school; but at the same time, it’s very intimate. I like that,” she said. “I also knew how good the Walton College was. It’s ranked very high and is one of the top business schools, and that’s what I was really interested in.” McMillan said she shares many of the qualities that tend to define business majors. “It’s just how my brain works. I’m really competitive, innovative, and a perfectionist—a kind of type A personality, which is stereotypically what a lot of business students are,” she said.

The summer before McMillan’s freshman year, she had a municipal finance internship in Kansas City. “The biggest project was the city’s annual comprehensive financial report. I worked with the head financial officer. I also worked with some auditors and was responsible for clerical stuff.” She said the benefits of this experience were clear from the beginning. “It showed me what I could do with my degree and how some of the different majors can relate to one another. It also showed me a lot about how things work after college—basically, how adults operate.”

When she isn’t in class, McMillan is taking part in extracurricular activities. One of her favorite programs is the Spring International Conversation Partners Program. “I get to basically teach English to our international students and welcome them when they get here,” she said. “I’ve worked with people from Japan, Brazil, Korea and all kinds of different places. If they have a test or presentation, I’ll help them study or I’ll listen to them and help them with their presentation skills. My job also is to get them acclimated to the campus and America in general.”

She also mentors new business students through the Freshmen Business Connections program. “Every FBC teacher has a student assistant and my job is to facilitate discussion for them. We talk about issues that freshmen face and also how to be successful in the business school. I helped with advising and was also responsible for planning FBC’s social functions for the year,” she said.

As a Connections mentor, McMillan helps underrepresented or minority students understand and deal with the issues they face that may not have been addressed at new student orientation.

McMillan is a Silas Hunt mentor and member of the National Association of Black Accountants. She also participates in the Center for Retailing Excellence mentoring program and is mentored by Saatchi and Saatchi X. She was chosen to take part in the Razorback Sports Marketing Internship Program in summer 2010 and the 2010-2011 school year. She will also begin working with SAKE in the fall and said she is really looking forward to the experience.

McMillan’s activities are not contained to the University of Arkansas campus. In fact, some of them take place thousands of miles from Fayetteville. In 2009, McMillan attended the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama with a select group of students; and, in summer 2010, she will be travelling to Africa on the African American Studies department’s inaugural trip to Ghana. “I chose this program because [professors] approached me about it and told me they wanted me to come and be in it. Also, it’s my motherland. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go where you originated from. I had several trips I was choosing from, like Italy and Mexico, but I figured I would have an easier time getting back to those places than getting to Africa.” McMillan said she is very excited for this travel opportunity.

She’s enjoying the present, but she’s still making plans for the future. If McMillan could have her dream job, she would work in international marketing. “I know it’ll take me a while to get to it, but I’d like to do product development and market research in another country. I’d like to utilize my Spanish [minor] somewhere like Costa Rica or Guatemala and do research or have a product there.”

McMillan said more education is likely in her future. “I think I want to go to graduate school-maybe stay at the Walton College for a fifth year and get my MBA, and then go out and look for a job.”

EPIC Spotlight: Alexandra Kosmitis

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

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

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

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

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

EPIC Spotlight: Alex Nunn

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“I want to make an impact beyond where I’m working.”

Alex Nunn perks up when a law case is discussed in his classes at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. If there’s a topic that inspires debate among the students, even better. The combination has led to a revelation: He should become a corporate lawyer.

Hailing from Dallas, Alex will graduate in May with finance and accounting degrees and will head off to law school, either at Vanderbilt or Harvard. He was accepted to both. He understands what it takes to be a successful corporate lawyer. “You need a good foundation and understanding of how business works,” he says.

He says his father, who works in corporate law, influenced his career decision. Plus, Alex has a natural interest in the profession. “I have always been fascinated by how lawyers and courts can shift markets,” he says.

But first, he’s getting married. Walton College isn’t only a place for him to map out his career. It’s also where he found his soul mate. In July, he will wed Walton College senior Megan Dunham, who is majoring in supply chain management. The two met as sophomores in their Markets and Consumers class, he says.

Living in Texas, and with no immediate family members having attended the University of Arkansas, Alex say his longtime friend, Jon Reene, now a senior at Walton College, persuaded him to attend school here. Alex began researching the University of Arkansas. “I was reading about the Walton College, and I never knew it had such a prestigious alumni base,” he says. When he toured the campus and Fayetteville, he was pleased. “Beyond the academic opportunities here, it’s a great environment to be in,” Alex says.

Alex is a founding member of the Walton College Honors Student Executive Board, which is comprised of 16 honor students who work toward building alumni relations and organize social and marketing activities for the college. He is a member of the University of Arkansas chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, an international business honors society, and has served as an Honors College Ambassador. Alex also studied abroad in Rome.

Once he graduates from law school, Alex says he hopes to gain a judicial clerkship, which gives clerks access not only to the judge’s chambers but behind-the-scenes knowledge into the judicial process. Ideally, Alex says he would like a clerkship to the United States Supreme Court.

He says he hopes to eventually work for a socially conscious law firm or corporation. “I want to make an impact beyond where I’m working,” he says. “I want to touch the community.” (Posted April 2013)

EPIC Spotlight: Adriana Rossiter-Hofer

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As a child, Adriana Rossiter-Hofer often lectured her siblings and friends when they needed help with their schoolwork. “My younger cousins still blame me for playing the teacher and lecturing them during our family vacations with our grandparents,” she says.

“At school, lots of people had a hard time making good grades in math and physics,” she says. “And, for some reason, those were my favorite subjects.” Though Rossiter-Hofer didn’t realize it at the time, she now says that this set her up for a career in teaching.

That she would teach at the University of Arkansas after growing up in the city of Recife in Brazil was not even a thought, she says. Instead, she spent her formative years in the country’s fifth largest metropolitan area, located in northeast Brazil along the Atlantic coast. With its tourists and growing industry, it continues to be a major port and commercial center. Now, as an assistant professor with the Department of Supply Chain Management at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, Rossiter-Hofer takes her students to her home country through the Study Abroad program. During the rest of the year, she teaches international logistics and global supply chain management classes, which cover facets of the supply chain such as transportation, international channels and the commercial aspects of import-export procedures.

With a love for solving problems, Rossiter-Hofer majored in civil engineering at Brazil’s Federal University of Pernambuco in her hometown of Recife. From there, she earned her master’s degree in transportation engineering at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro with emphasis on public transportation and, upon graduation, worked at a consulting firm where she designed highways, toll roads and government logistics plans. This allowed her to collaborate with retailers, manufacturers and third-party logistics providers. “It started to open my eyes to something bigger than transportation,” she says.

Soon, Rossiter-Hofer yearned to work internationally. She was accepted in an exchange program for young professionals through Rotary International. She spent time in Seattle where she visited construction companies, engineering firms and others in her field. The experience moved her so much that she decided that living in the United States was the right thing to do. “It was such a dream come true,” she says.

Rossiter-Hofer became a Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland. While there, she met a student from Germany, Christian Hofer, who is now also a supply chain management professor at the Walton College. Wooed by Hofer’s “beautifully and meticulously crafted” PowerPoint presentation, the two fell in love and got married. Now, she has a message to her students: “Work on your presentation skills because you never know. Your future spouse might be in the audience!”

Rossiter-Hofer and her husband have a 4-year-old son, Daniel. Family time is spent traveling globally and doing activities like bicycle riding and enjoying the area’s parks. She says she also loves to work out in the gym doing Pilates, yoga and cycling.

Rossiter-Hofer says when she and her husband earned their doctorates, they had opportunities to work at other universities. Yet, she says they were impressed by Walton College’s supply chain management program and made the move to Northwest Arkansas.

“The university is perfect,” she says. “This is my dream job.”

EPIC Spotlight: Addison Scott

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“All of the opportunities that have been afforded to me here are amazing.”

Addison Scott resisted the calling to be an accountant. It was the profession of her parents, and she wanted to blaze a different trail. That is, until she took an accounting class.

And liked it.

“I got into business school and discovered it was the best decision I’ve ever made,” she says.

Now in her junior year at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, Addison is keeping a busy schedule with three – yes, three – majors. She is working on an international business degree with an economics concentration and a minor in French and has a double major in finance and accounting.

Taking on heavy loads is nothing new to Addison. As a student at Little Rock Central High School, she was enrolled in several advance placement courses, for which she was able to earn college credit, placing her as a sophomore at the University of Arkansas immediately after high school graduation.

Addison says that she first considered pursuing a business career in high school when she found her economics class resonated with her. “The cause and effect nature of the field appealed to me,” she says.

Then, there was finance, which appeals to her banking interest while economics enhances it.

She says she didn’t seriously consider attending the University of Arkansas until she toured the campus. When she did, she says she “fell in love” and was met by a welcoming staff and faculty. “That’s something you don’t really get at other schools,” she says.

During her first year at Walton College, Addison joined the university chapter of Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), which has since changed its name to Enactus, a global, nonprofit organization that does community service by teaching the principles of free enterprise. She says she was project leader for the GreeNWAy Initiative, which assists Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce member organizations with implementing ways to make their businesses green and sustainable.

Addison says she stepped down from her SIFE leadership to study abroad in Toulouse, France, in Spring 2012. While at the Toulouse Business School, she studied master’s level programs with a focus on international management. She says her class was composed of both French and international students, with each course a week long. She says she found working with diverse groups to be very rewarding. “I think that’s the most beneficial thing I reaped from traveling abroad,” she says.

Her student activities include serving as a founding member and various committee chair positions of the Walton College Honors Student Executive Board with her role transitioning to a leadership position this spring. Addison is also the event coordinator for the newly formed International Business Club, which serves as a welcoming team to international students new to Walton College and helps Walton College students explore international opportunities, such as studying abroad. In addition, she is a University of Arkansas Student Ambassador, a volunteer program with activities that include giving prospective students tours on campus and aiding in the admissions process.

During the winter break of the 2011-2012 school year, Addison received real-world experience when she interned in the accounting office of Windstream Communications, a voice and data network provider in Little Rock. Addison says after her spring 2013 semester, she will intern in the internal audit department at Walmart’s Bentonville headquarters.

There’s still school as well. Addison says she plans to apply for Walton College’s Integrated Master of Accountancy (IMAcc) program, a five-year plan that enables students to become certified public accountants. Upon completion, she says she hopes to work in the private sector but would like to eventually play a role in public policy and economic development.

She says Walton College is helping make her dreams possible. “All of the opportunities that have been afforded to me here are amazing,” she says.