ATU Grads Set Sights on New Adventures

Fall commencement 2017 was a time of transition for Arkansas Tech University graduates honored during ceremonies on Friday and Saturday.

Emily Free of Beebe was one of several hundred ATU graduates who walked across the floor of Tucker Coliseum in Russellville.

Just a few hours after receiving her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree, she made a different walk, traveling down the aisle to marry Jacob Jones.

“My head is spinning,” said Free shortly before she graduated on Saturday morning. “I think it will be special in the future to have all these memories from one day. I really wanted to walk at graduation because I am a first-generation college student, so it was special to my family.”

The quick wardrobe change from cap and gown to wedding dress was made necessary by Jacob’s profession as a U.S. Marine. Saturday was the day that fit his schedule, and Emily was more than happy to take on the doubleheader of life-changing events.

“Why not do it all?” asked the bride-to-be.

Arkansas Tech students earned approximately 900 degrees and additional academic credentials at the close of the fall 2017 semester.

Chiquita Scott of Brinkley was standing in the Tucker Coliseum corridor on Saturday morning, awaiting the moment when she would hear her name called.

“It feels great,” said Scott, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology. “I am really nervous the longer I stand here.”

Scott started her ATU journey as a nursing major, but she was inspired to switch to psychology after taking an introductory course taught by Dr. Jason Warnick.

“I knew that I had to something amazing in what he was talking about,” said Scott. “I decided to change majors and see how it went. I ended up having several of his classes, and I knew I made the right choice.”

She also pointed to Nichole Edwards, advisor in the ATU Student Support Services program, as a key mentor in helping her reach graduation day.

“Mrs. Nichole was there every step of the way,” said Scott. “When I changed my major, she helped me figure out what I wanted to do. She is awesome.”

Scott plans on pursuing a graduate degree in psychology and a career in the field, possibly as a clinician.

Andrew Rowton received a Bachelor of Professional Studies degree from Arkansas Tech on Saturday.

The Lonoke product departs ATU with countless experiences that helped shape him.

“There are too many memories to count,” said Rowton. “Freshman year was a good time. I probably should have studied more and I might have been here a little earlier.”

Proximity to his hometown was one of several reasons that Arkansas Tech was the right fit for Rowton.

“I had a bunch of friends up here, and I liked the football team,” he said. “It’s a great town, and I’ve really enjoyed living here. Tech proved itself right the whole time I was here, and it’s a community with a lot of good places to eat and good gyms to work out at.”

Rowton’s next step will be a Master of Education degree.

Vincent McNerlin, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree on Saturday afternoon, said that ease of access from his hometown of Little Rock and affordability were the two main factors that led him to ATU.

“The core professors who have been there since I have been here…Dr. (Wayne) Helmer, Dr. (John) Krohn and Mr. (Stanton) Apple…they’ve been the strengths,” said McNerlin when asked about his Tech experience. “I was involved with intramurals a lot, and I was a referee for the Office of Campus Recreation. Getting to know everybody from there was a great time and probably my favorite memory.”

McNerlin will go directly into the workforce with a job opportunity made possible through his ATU degree.

“I’ve had internships that have allowed me to get into the field and see exactly what I can do,” said McNerlin. “I have a job with American Fire Protection. It is project engineer design work, and I feel ready to go into that.”

December 2017 Commencements: Graduate College | 12/15/17

December 2017 Commencements: 10AM Ceremony | 12/16/17

December 2017 Commencements: 2pm ceremony | 12/16/17

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