2024 Brown Award Winner: Breckyn Ballard

For Arkansas Tech University Class of 2024 member Breckyn Ballard, serving others is simply how she was raised.

“It’s something my parents (Robin and Ron Ballard) have always done,” said Ballard. “They’re the first people to help someone and to volunteer when it’s not necessarily their responsibility. Growing up seeing that, it’s something I was taught to do. It isn’t expected of me, but it’s the kind thing to do. I would rather help someone else with their event than plan my own because I feel more joy and gratification when I see others succeed. Whether it’s helping another organization or a fellow executive officer, that’s what makes me happy.”

That ethos allowed Ballard to earn the 2024 Jill Lestage Brown Service Leadership Award at Arkansas Tech. She will be recognized during ATU spring commencement ceremonies at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Saturday, May 11.

Ballard is from Russellville and attended the Pottsville School District from kindergarten through high school. She was involved in cheerleading and Beta Club at Pottsville High School.

Following her enrollment at Arkansas Tech, Ballard found her home in fraternity and sorority life. She joined Zeta Tau Alpha, which led her to serve in Student Government Association and pursue a variety of other leadership opportunities.

“Being in a chapter with 70 or 80 other women, there’s always someone who has experienced what you want to get into or has experienced the problems you are having,” said Ballard. “Through Zeta Tau Alpha, I was able to be in charge of our philanthropy week. That’s a lot at 18 or 19 years old if you’ve never experienced that before. The national organization as well as our campus office for fraternity and sorority life helped me learn how to facilitate, teach and work with other college students.”

Ballard’s interest in helping her fellow ATU students succeed made her a perfect fit to work with the university’s freshman orientation program.

“My hope is that through the week of programming we put on and the interactions we have with them that they find their place at Tech,” said Ballard when asked about serving as a freshman orientation leader. “A lot of incoming freshmen come from rural areas and smaller schools where they didn’t have what they are interested in. I want to be the biggest advocate for them to find something they connect to so they can be as passionate as I am with my organizations.”

Beyond campus, Ballard has poured more than 500 hours of volunteer service into the community during her time at Arkansas Tech. Much of that service was carried out at Camp Caudle, where Ballard has volunteered since the summer following her ninth-grade year.

“I always make it a priority to go out there for a week during the summer,” said Ballard when asked about Camp Caudle. “It’s really awesome to connect with those kids. When I first started, I volunteered with the younger kids. I’ve started transitioning into the junior high and high school students. They ask me about college and what it’s like to attend Arkansas Tech. I hope I can be a positive influence for them.”

All of these opportunities have provided Ballard with a perspective on leadership that will continue to serve her well beyond the day she receives her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Arkansas Tech.

“I’ve learned what it really means to be a leader,” said Ballard. “A lot of times we define leadership as what the job requirements are. I’ve learned that being a leader is about inspiring others to achieve. It’s realizing that members of an organization are not going to be willing to do something unless the leader is equally willing to do so. You have to lead by example. Just because it’s not your position doesn’t mean it’s not your job.”

The ATU Division of Student Affairs has connected Ballard with a number of strong role models, and none more so than Chelsea Neal. She is ATU associate dean for campus life and the student union.

“Chelsea has been a big influence in my life,” said Ballard. “Seeing another Greek woman on campus and how hard she works has taught me a lot of life lessons and shaped my experience. Having her here is like an older sister on campus to guide me in all the choices I’m making.”

Ballard plans on pursuing a master’s degree and career in student affairs and higher education. Wherever she goes and whatever she does, she will carry with her a defined vision of what the big picture looks like through her eyes.

“Sometimes you have to prioritize what is for the greater good over what is the best for yourself,” said Ballard. “Just because it’s going to make you happy doesn’t mean it’s the best for all involved. It takes being humble and keeping others in your heart and your mind when you make choices.”