Perhaps the most visible duty of serving as president of the Arkansas Tech University Alumni Association Board of Directors is inducting graduates into the association during commencement ceremonies.
For Skot Covert, that duty was a privilege.
“You’re looking hope in the face,” said Covert. “When you stand at that podium, you see the future doctors, future engineers and future teachers. You can’t help but think, ‘thank God.’ Thank God these folks chose Arkansas Tech and that the majority of them are going to stay here in Arkansas and make a difference in every aspect. I’m going to miss that the most. I loved celebrating their achievements. Tech isn’t just celebrating at the finish line…they’re running the race with you. Welcoming the next generation of alumni into the fold is a special moment.”
Covert grew up in Ozark and graduated from Arkansas Tech with a Bachelor of Science degree in emergency administration and management in 2012.
“Arkansas Tech was interested in me before I even knew college was a possibility,” said Covert. “It’s not something I grew up thinking I was going to do. I’m so happy I ended up where I did.”
Covert joined the ATU Alumni Association Board of Directors in 2018 and was elected to serve as its president in 2021. He will be succeeded as president on Jan. 1, 2022, by Steve Fryer.
“I’ve loved every step of the way,” said Covert. “Just to have the opportunity to stroll through campus, see the things that have never changed once and then all the new, exciting developments, that’s reason enough to join the alumni board. There are so many opportunities to engage with students, other alumni, faculty and staff. Everyone sees the alumni board differently, which I think is one of the coolest things about it. You can do so much with it. It’s always about moving Arkansas Tech forward.”
Covert learned those lessons from the ATU alumni leaders who came before him.
“I look to Howard (Ritchie), Shirley (Dodd) and so many others…they live and breathe Arkansas Tech and they have their entire lives,” said Covert. “That, to me, is an inspiration. They are role models. Just knowing I’ll have a seat next to those folks at graduation excites me. We continuously have to be molding and building the next generation of Mrs. Shirleys and Howards. They fly the flag for Arkansas Tech.”
The notion of advocating for ATU took on a different form amid a global pandemic.
“As COVID unfolded and we saw the impacts, my thought was very clear,” said Covert. “We, as an alumni board, just needed to serve. There was a real need for people to just do the work, whether that’s writing letters, making phone calls or answering e-mails from students who need help with mentoring. There was a clear place for alumni to step up, give back and help carry some of the burden. With so much uncertainty in the economy, the world, the job market and especially in higher education, us being able to roll up our sleeves, virtually for the most part, allowed us to crowd source a lot of work just to try to help.”
These days, that young man who didn’t think college was a possibility is living his dream as a meteorologist. Covert appears weekdays on “Wake Up Central,” the morning program on THV11 in Little Rock. He values the responsibility of keeping his family, friends and neighbors informed during severe weather threats.
“Tech gave me so much and continues to give me so much,” said Covert. “As far as I see it, I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to repay my debt to Tech. If that means coming and licking envelopes, I’ll do it. If that means manning a booth at Homecoming, I’ll be there. If it means raising money for scholarships, I’m happy to do it.
“Influencers are a big thing in our society,” continued Covert. “I’ll never be a TikTok influencer or an Instagram influencer, but I’ll always strive to be an Arkansas Tech influencer. If I can drop an Arkansas Tech reference on TV, I’m going to do it. If I can wear an Arkansas Tech T-shirt to the store so someone can see it and recognize our university, that’s what I’m going to do. I think back to the people who were advocates for Arkansas Tech and sustained it through difficult times. I hope that I can help do the same for future students so one day they can enjoy the same Arkansas Tech I did.”