Archives for April 2014

Tech Students Assist with Disaster Response Effort

Several Arkansas Tech University students have volunteered their time to assist in the disaster response in Mayflower.

Most of the students are studying emergency management at Arkansas Tech and volunteered to lend their expertise to help those impacted by the tornadoes last Sunday.

The group assisted Mayflower Lakeview Assembly of God and the surrounding neighborhood in sorting through debris, cutting trees and tree limbs and removing debris.

The following students volunteered on Tuesday:

  • Aaren Kirkwood – Emergency management student
  • Andrea Jackson – Emergency management student
  • Jordan West – Emergency management student
  • Angela Walker
  • Chris Hudson

Officials in the Department of Emergency Management said additional students will be working in area throughout the week, and several Tech students are also volunteering at the United Methodist Committee on Relief call center.Learn more about the Department of Emergency Management at Arkansas Tech.

Read about a bottled water and tarp donation effort at Tech.



Finals Begin at Arkansas Tech

Final examinations are underway for the spring semester at Arkansas Tech.

Students began taking final exams Tuesday evening, and the final tests will run through Tuesday, May 6.

View the final exam schedule.

Throughout finals, the Arkansas Tech Alumni Association will provide free breakfast to students as they begin taking the tests.

Visit the Office of the Registrar for more information about important dates for the end of the semester.

Whitlow Garners Margaret Young Award

With a 3.97 grade point average in electrical engineering and a lengthy record of distinguished involvement on campus, Arkansas Tech University senior Lynsie Whitlow might appear to be someone for whom everything comes easy.

She says nothing could be further from the truth.

“I struggled in school,” said Whitlow. “Middle school and high school were not easy for me. I had to learn how to study at a very young age compared to most college students. Everyone else was freaking out because they’d never had to work hard for a grade before. I was just sitting back and knew I had this because I’d been working hard since I was in middle school. I had trouble with my literacy and communication, and even math, which is surprising now.

“The most key thing to my success here at Tech is my family,” continued Whitlow, daughter of Cindy and Ricky Whitlow. “They are the best cheerleaders ever. They told me to do my best, and that they are proud of me as long as I did my best because that’s what they expect of themselves and of me. They’re always there. I give my success to them because I wouldn’t be here without them.”

Whitlow (photographed) received the 2014 Margaret Young Award as the most outstanding senior female student at Arkansas Tech during the Presidential Leadership Recognition reception at Lake Point Conference Center on Tuesday night.

She will be recognized as the Young Award winner during spring commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 10, at Tucker Coliseum.

Like many Arkansas Tech students, Whitlow’s first exposure to campus came through a summer camp during her youth.

“I came to campus because of band camp, and I just knew it was home,” said Whitlow. “From the moment I started going to school here, it’s been where I’ve felt like I belonged. I feel like I have a family here. It just always felt right.”

Whitlow knew from seventh grade on that Arkansas Tech was her target, and once she made it to Russellville she set about tackling the challenging discipline of electrical engineering.

“I’m very competitive,” said Whitlow. “I came into college and saw all these guys, and I told myself I was going to beat every last one of them. It doesn’t matter. I’ll beat the girls too. It’s never been a problem for me. I grew up playing on a basketball team with all boys. I didn’t really play. I wasn’t good, but they let me travel around with them. It’s something I’m used to, and I love a challenge.”

Whitlow credits three women from three different aspects of campus — Dr. Patricia Buford, associate dean of engineering and associate professor of electrical engineering; Alison Parks Taylor, coordinator of young alumni and student philanthropy; and Ann Webb, financial advisor in the Roy and Christine Sturgis Academic Advising Center — for aiding her development.

“Dr. Buford is how everything started,” said Whitlow. “I graded papers for her and she mentored me through everything when I first started at Tech. Because of my relationship with her, I was nominated for Presidential Leadership Cabinet. And because of that, I met Alison. Between those two women, and also Mrs. Webb, I had three women always making sure I was involved on campus. I owe a lot to them. I still talk to each of them daily. I have been influenced by some of the most wonderful women on campus, and they mean the world to me.”

Whitlow was elected the first president of the Arkansas Tech Student Alumni Association when the organization, which has grown to become the largest on campus, was founded during the 2012-13 academic year.

“It’s very special,” said Whitlow. “Tech has given me a lot, and I was able to give back before I left. It just makes me happy. This is my home, and I want to leave something for future students. I want them to find a way to get involved because that’s how I survived. Not only my grades, but my social life, would have died if I hadn’t been involved on this campus.”

Included in Whitlow’s legacy as Student Alumni Association president is the development of the Tech Traditions book, which will be distributed to freshmen for the first time in fall 2014. The “T book” will include guidelines for how students can qualify for the Tradition Keepers designation at commencement.

Whitlow will be among the inaugural class of Tradition Keepers at spring 2014 commencement.

“Now that we have developed the Traditions book hopefully it will take off, more students will get involved and go to games,” said Whitlow. “The Student Alumni Association is a great way for students to get involved. I want everyone else to enjoy Tech as much as I have.”

Whitlow never thought her enjoyment of Arkansas Tech would include involvement in a sorority, but when Alpha Sigma Tau returned to campus after a 30-year hiatus she became a member for her senior year.

“The thing that changed my mind was meeting people in sororities and fraternities,” said Whitlow. “They told me about the sisterhood and brotherhood, and I believed it because I saw it. Alpha Sigma Tau has been amazing for me. I’ve made so many friends as a senior that I didn’t think was even possible. It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. You don’t realize how close you are going to get to other people.”

Whitlow said that winning the Young Award is a result of her efforts to give back to a place that has given her so much.

“I tried hard, and I did my best,” said Whitlow. “It means I did exactly what my parents told me to do when I came to college. It was a complete and utter surprise. The women in my class are amazing. Claire Hodgson is a really good example. She is one of my sorority sisters, and I love her so much. She is so wonderful. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected this award. It is an honor, and it makes me very happy that I found my home.”

Whitlow wants to use her electrical engineering degree to pursue a career in the power industry. She is interested in living in Tennessee, where she lived for a summer while serving an internship at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

“My goal in life was to get a degree,” said Whitlow, who will receive her Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering on May 10. “It’s something my parents were never able to get, so it’s something I wanted to do to prove to them that their parenting really worked. It’s for them. A lot of the reasons I came to Tech were for them. I want to get a Master of Business Administration degree, and hopefully gain a management position one day over engineers. That would allow me to use the communication skills I have gained over the years. I want to give back and show girls and boys there’s no stopping you if you put your mind and heart to it. That’s my ultimate goal.”

Wyllia Earns Alfred J. Crabaugh Award

As Student Government Association president, Clay Wyllia was on the inside of history as it happened at Arkansas Tech University during the 2013-14 academic year.

From the return of Jerry the Bulldog as campus ambassador last fall to the election and introduction of the 12th president of Arkansas Tech this spring, Wyllia was the student body’s voice in decisions that will shape the image and direction of the university for years to come.

Wyllia (photographed) was recognized for his efforts and academic achievement when he received the 2014 Alfred J. Crabaugh Award as the most outstanding senior male student at Arkansas Tech during the Presidential Leadership Recognition reception at Lake Point Conference Center on Tuesday night.

He will be recognized as the Crabaugh Award winner during spring commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 10, at Tucker Coliseum.

“It’s a great feeling because it’s one of the highest honors you can achieve at the university,” said Wyllia. “I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I was grateful just to be nominated for it. The fact that I am being recognized for my efforts, it makes me feel like I have lived up to my responsibility to be a Wonder Boy and represent our university.”

Wyllia’s path to Arkansas Tech was paved by Upward Bound, a federally-funded program that helps prepare high school students for college. As a result of his involvement in Upward Bound, Wyllia spent part of three summers living and studying at Arkansas Tech during his time as an Atkins High School student.

“I started to know many of the administrators on campus and I took a tour of the television studio,” said Wyllia. “That’s when I really started to like Tech because I was interested in all of that. When I started to learn the campus and get used to everything, I knew this would be the perfect place for me to go. It was an easy transition, and I knew I could get everything taken care of in terms of my education and still enjoy myself.”

Wyllia was involved in organizations and activities such as student council, science club, Spanish club and marching band at Atkins High School, and at first he thought he might like a break from such a hectic schedule when he started college. He was wrong.

“When I moved in during that first semester I knew that I couldn’t stay away from being involved in activities,” said Wyllia, son of Cindy and Randall Wyllia. “I couldn’t just go back to my room and watch TV. I wanted to stay busy and be involved on campus. I started to fall even more in love with the campus, and I wanted to be a part of the changes that were coming. I could feel that change, and I wanted to join in.”

Wyllia gave back to Upward Bound as a tutor and mentor, rose to the rank of producer at Tech TV, was a resident assistant for the Office of Residence Life and served as a tour guide in the Office of Admissions.

He also joined Student Government Association and was Homecoming chairperson in 2012. In that role, Wyllia helped develop a new Monday night pep rally that launched Homecoming week with a spirit competition and the introduction of the Homecoming court. That event is scheduled to return for a third consecutive year in fall 2014.

Wyllia’s campus involvement culminated in his opportunity to serve as president of the Student Government Association during his senior year.

“When I first learned that I was going to be SGA president, I knew it was an organization that was meant to bring about change on campus for the betterment of the students,” said Wyllia. “There was already some of that going on, but I knew it could be better. That was my main goal as president…to bring SGA up to the level where it should be. I worked with a really great executive board this year, and from day one we worked on ways to make that happen. We want SGA to be more than something that is a resume builder for the students involved. I think in the years to come it’s going to be even better.”

Wyllia helped Arkansas Tech return a tradition that was lost for 76 years when he introduced a proclamation declaring Jerry the Bulldog as campus ambassador during an SGA meeting on Oct. 23, 2013. The proclamation was unanimously adopted by the student senate.

“When I learned about the story of Jerry, I was really excited because I knew the students, alumni and other people associated with Arkansas Tech wanted a physical representation of us,” said Wyllia. “We have our nicknames, but it’s hard to know what those ideas look like. I was hoping that, if it was passed by the Student Senate, it would be something that students could begin to associate with and begin to realize that we are the home of the Wonder Boys and the Golden Suns, cheered on by Jerry the Bulldog.

“As the process unfolded, it was really cool to sit back and watch the reaction of people as we revealed the secret to different groups,” continued Wyllia. “I could tell they were really excited about it, and as it got bigger I was really happy to see that excitement because it was something that was important to me.”

Three days after the proclamation was adopted, Wyllia was on stage in front of Williamson Hall during the Homecoming ceremony that re-introduced Jerry to his campus.

“It was awesome,” said Wyllia. “Everyone had heard the story because it had been released just a few days earlier. The anticipation was there. They wanted to see him, what he looks like and see how we were going to reveal him. When we brought him out, there was a gasp and everyone was so excited to see him. It was a cool feeling to be able to bring him home.”

Wyllia took on another major responsibility during the spring 2014 semester when he served as the student representative for the advisory committee on presidential search, which was charged with assisting the Arkansas Tech Board of Trustees in identifying a successor for President Dr. Robert C. Brown.

“When I went to the initial meeting, it was very intimidating,” said Wyllia. “There were alumni, current faculty, retired faculty…very distinguished people. They were all very interested in how school and SGA were going, and I had a chance to learn about several of the committee members that I never thought I would get to speak with. It was a great experience to be behind the scenes on the choosing of our next president and learn about that process. It was great to see how much everyone on the committee cared about finding a president who would be a good fit for our students, faculty and staff.”

Dr. Robin E. Bowen was elected and introduced as the next president of Arkansas Tech by the Board of Trustees on April 22. She will take office on July 1.

All of it, from those early experiences with Tech through Upward Bound to playing a key role in the selection of the next leader of the university, changed Wyllia.

“I’m more well-rounded,” said Wyllia, who will receive Bachelor of Arts degrees in journalism and speech communication on May 10. “When I first started, I had ideas on where I wanted to go. As I’ve been involved in various areas of campus, worked in different areas and met different people, my eyes have been opened to a variety of opportunities. In the beginning I was more focused on myself. Now, I feel like I have a better knowledge of everything around me and how to approach people on certain topics. I know how to run events and organize better. There’s just a lot I gained through the years that has made me a better person.”

Wyllia plans on attending graduate school at the University of Mississippi, where he will be a graduate assistant in student housing.

“Their program is really good and it’s going to give me the skills and theory necessary to go into future careers in higher education,” said Wyllia. “Working with their housing staff, they are going to give me hands-on experience. It’s also close to home, so my mom is really happy.”

Hodgson Wins New Service Leadership Award

Arkansas Tech University has created a new award that represents the legacy of one of the most beloved figures in the history of the institution.

The Jill Lestage Brown Service Leadership Award will be presented each year to an Arkansas Tech senior who seeks to improve society through unselfish voluntary service to others.

Claire Hodgson of Russellville (photographed) was named the inaugural winner of the Jill Lestage Brown Service Leadership Award during the Presidential Leadership Recognition reception at Lake Point Conference Center on Tuesday night.

She will be recognized as the Jill Lestage Brown Service Leadership Award winner during spring commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 10, at Tucker Coliseum.

“This really means a lot to me,” said Hodgson. “Just to be associated with Mrs. Jill Brown is a huge honor. To be the first person to receive this award, it gives me butterflies in my stomach. Mrs. Jill is so warm. She’s very much invested in her relationships. She is very involved in generating opportunities for students, and she fosters a sense of volunteerism that is so important to me.”

Mrs. Brown has served as first lady of Arkansas Tech since July 1, 1993, a term that will end with the retirement of her husband, Dr. Robert C. Brown, from the active presidency of the university on June 30.

When the Browns moved from Joplin, Mo., to Russellville 21 years ago, Mrs. Brown relinquished her career as an elementary school teacher to act as an unpaid volunteer ambassador and hostess for Arkansas Tech.

Dr. Brown has referred to his wife as “an advocate for the Arkansas Tech student body, the single most supportive fan of Tech Athletics,” and as an individual who has “exercised influence on the Office of the President on behalf of all student causes.”

Mrs. Brown has also given of her time to benefit such organizations as the Russellville Area Chamber of Commerce, National Women in the Arts, the Arkansas Tech Wesley Foundation, Shelter of Sunshine, River Valley United Way and as an officer for Junior Auxiliary of Russellville.

As a board member of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, she was the driving force in implementing the Girls of Promise program at Arkansas Tech that allowed junior high students to connect with mentors and role models from a variety of fields.

Mrs. Brown was on the Committee of 100 for the Ozark Folk Center and a member of the Governor’s Mansion Association. She was a member of the Dames Club of Arkansas Tech, the local chapter of the Philanthropic Educational Organization, Main Street Russellville and the Russellville Culture Club.

The inaugural recipient of the Jill Lestage Brown Service Leadership Award originally chose Arkansas Tech because of scholarship opportunities and the fact that it was close to home.

Claire Hodgson’s level of campus involvement, and her life, changed in February 2012 when she won the Miss Arkansas Tech University Scholarship Pageant.

“I developed a love for this school, and I started seeing all of these different facets that I didn’t realize when I was considering Tech,” said Hodgson, daughter of Mario Hodgson and Cathy Baker. “I loved all of my professors, all of the things I was involved in, being Miss Tech and representing the school. I think it fostered a sense of community and pride, and ever since then my love for Tech has only grown deeper.”

Hodgson had never entered a scholarship pageant before she won the Miss Tech 2012 crown. She is now preparing for her third consecutive appearance in the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant, which will take place in June at Hot Springs.

“Being in the Miss Arkansas system is all about community service,” said Hodgson, who lists non-profit organization administration among her possible career paths. “Your job for that year as a title holder is to serve the community, work on your public platform and reach out to all of the people you can. Winning that title meshed so well with what I love to do and what I wanted to do. I had always had a love for service, but that kick started the rest of my college career.”

Student Government Association proved to be a logical next step for Hodgson. She has served as SGA secretary for student development during the 2013-14 academic year. Her duties in that capacity have included bringing a leadership conference to campus, serving as chairperson for Homecoming and helping with WonderWeek.

“What I love most about it is being around other students who care so much about the school,” said Hodgson when asked about SGA. “When you step onto any campus or into any organization or workplace, there are going to be some people who care and there are going to be some people who just don’t. When you’re in SGA, you get to be with the top students in the school, the ones who are most active and the ones who are really trying to get things done. As an active student, you need to be in that environment to get encouragement and positive feedback.”

Additional community service by Hodgson has included serving as president for the Campus Environmental Coalition. She is a member of Alpha Sigma Tau sorority and Active Minds.

“By the fact that we put on these events, we are fostering a sense of community on campus,” said Hodgson, who required just three years at Tech to earn Bachelor of Arts degrees in psychology and sociology. “That has positive effects. By making a difference in the college experience for our fellow students and making them feel more involved, that’s what is important to us.”

Hodgson said that passion for helping others is both fulfilling and humbling.

“A lot of it is the right timing and the right place,” said Hodgson. “There are a lot of things you can do to develop yourself as a person, but I am not the only one who has this potential. Literally anyone on this campus can do the things that I am doing. There’s nothing about me that sets me aside as the only person who could accomplish these things.”