ATU’s Next Wave of Students Explores Campus

Time Out for Tech 2020

Cabot High School senior Lauren Underwood celebrated her birthday on Thursday, Feb. 6, with the people who will become her friends over the next four years: the Arkansas Tech University Class of 2024.

Underwood was among more than 1,800 high school seniors from every region of Arkansas and beyond who registered in advance for Time Out for Tech 2020, a preview day that allowed prospective ATU students to learn more about the educational opportunities available at the state’s third-largest university.

“It’s awesome because I get to spend my birthday at my future home,” said Underwood, who marked the occasion by wearing a feather-accented tiara with the words “Birthday Girl” across the top. “It’s fun to see the smiles on everybody’s faces. I want to meet all of the people who are going to be going here next year, and I wanted to see what campus life is like. I like the size of it. It is a medium-sized college, so you can get to know everyone, and I like how everyone on campus is so friendly. I’m nervous because I’ll be an hour-and-a-half away from home, so that will be a big adjustment, but I’m excited about it.”

Underwood plans on majoring in elementary education and becoming active in sorority life at ATU.

McKenzie Lem of Sheridan was seated on the Tucker Coliseum floor Thursday morning for the Time Out for Tech opening session. She said she plans on majoring in biology with an ultimate dream of attending medical school and becoming an anesthesiologist.

“I want to get a feel for the university and see how it’s going to be so I won’t be totally surprised when I come here next semester,” said Lem. “I have a friend whose mom is an alumna of (ATU), and she’s been pretty adamant about how great a school it is. I’ve never been away from home for as long as I will be at college. It will be weird not seeing my parents and sister every day. Becoming a college graduate will mean a lot to me because it’s a step that some people don’t have the opportunity to take and some choose not to. I’m looking forward to it.”

Lem also auditioned for a non-major music scholarship while she was on campus Thursday.

Seated directly across from her on the coliseum floor was a student from the other side of Arkansas with a similar plan.

Austin Barfield of Prairie Grove intends to major in international studies at ATU, but he wants to continue his passion for music by participating as a non-music major in the instrumental and choral music programs. His first exposure to ATU was as a band camp student.

“Tech has everything I need,” said Barfield. “I want to take a closer look at the dorms and student life, and I want to learn more about the major I have chosen. I have been looking forward to being a college student for a while. I am excited to live on my own and experience life as an adult before actually being an adult. My biggest concern is keeping track of my work. I hate to admit it, but my parents do help keep me on track. I might need to call my mother every now and then to get some motivation. I’ve worked for 13 years before this to graduate high school, and it already means a lot to me that I’ve made it this far. Four more years and being able to walk out of here with a degree that has my name and Arkansas Tech’s name on it…that would mean a lot to me.”

Kaziya Woods of Russellville came to Time Out for Tech to learn more about the student experience and campus life at ATU.

“It’s close to home,” said Woods. “I like that. There are nice people and the atmosphere is really good. I want to go into psychology because I have some friends who struggle with depression, so I want to be a mental health counselor. I look forward to meeting new people.”

Woods is intrigued by the addition of a women’s track and field program at ATU beginning in spring 2021. She hopes to be able to throw the discus for the Golden Suns.

Another Russellville High School senior, Braden Studyvin, attended Time Out for Tech so he could learn more about scholarship opportunities at ATU. He is interested in studying computer science.

“I hope I get to come here,” said Studyvin. “I look forward to having fun on campus and getting a degree so I can get a good job. I can’t imagine graduating from college right now. That would be a monumental moment in my life.”

Arkansas Tech University is home to 11,829 students as of fall 2019. ATU has been ranked No. 1 in the state on the CollegeNET Social Mobility Index, a tool that measures how much students’ economic position improves from the time they enter higher education through their early career, for six consecutive years.

Visit to learn more about applying to become an ATU student.

2020 Time Out for Tech | 2/6/2020