Victoria Wilson didn’t venture to Tucker Coliseum on a rainy commencement Saturday morning at Arkansas Tech University because she needed the validation of hearing her name called over a speaker.
She did it because she wants to be a role model.
“I set the tone for all my little cousins, sisters and brothers,” said Wilson. “That means a lot to me…more than anything. Hopefully they will follow in these footsteps and do even more than I’ve done.”
Those footsteps have carried Wilson to and through some important life lessons during her time at Arkansas Tech.
“Studying was a technique that I wasn’t good at in high school,” said Wilson. “Learning how to study on my own and learning different ways of discipline…getting up early and going to class can be difficult when you don’t want to, especially toward the end of the year. Staying strong and remaining determined to pass my classes allowed me to get where I am now. I just take it day-by-day and make sure that I do something that is going toward my future.”
A native of Little Rock, Wilson received her Associate of General Studies degree on Saturday. It was one of 1,400 credentials conferred by ATU at the close of its summer 2019 terms.
Wilson is on pace to earn her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from ATU in 2020.
While her time at Tech continues, Aaron Henderson of North Little Rock celebrated the conclusion of a long and rewarding educational experience on Saturday.
Already a graduate of ATU with a Bachelor of Science degree in emergency management, Henderson received his Master of Science degree in emergency management and homeland security during Arkansas Tech’s summer commencement ceremony.
“I’ve been to six colleges, and this is the best school I’ve been to,” said Henderson. “Everybody I talk to, I preach come here. It’s by far the best rate on books and best education I’ve received. Tenacity and dedication to your studies are the keys.”
With five children and a job as a firefighter with the North Little Rock Fire Department to tend to, Henderson appreciated the distance learning option available through ATU’s emergency management programs.
“The best part about it was the flexibility,” said Henderson. “I can work at midnight, whereas class time you have to be slotted for a specific time. It was a beneficial factor for me, and it was one of the reasons why I chose here.”
Online learning also drew Sarah Searcy to Arkansas Tech. A native of Harrison, she received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from ATU on Saturday as a graduate of the RN to BSN program.
“A lot of the nurses I work with went (to ATU), so I heard good things,” said Searcy. “It was tough at first. Learning online was a totally new experience, but anytime I talked to anyone they were friendly and helpful. It made it pretty easy. I am a better professional now and carry myself with a different pride. It’s a step in the next direction for me. Our job looks at a bachelor’s degree as a more professional way of nursing, so I’m proud and excited.”
Cua’ Rose regularly sparked pride and excitement at Arkansas Tech with his exploits on the football field over the past four years. The Wonder Boys’ All-America defensive back from McGehee earned his Bachelor of Professional Studies degree from ATU on Saturday.
Rose is on his way to Pebblebrook High School in Mableton, Ga., to serve as a coach and teacher.
“This is a great accomplishment,” said Rose. “I feel like I’ve been here forever, working for it and doing everything I could to get to this day…organization, note-taking, planning. The same thing my coaches and teachers gave to me, I’m going to give it right back to my players and students.”
ATU student Riley Robinson used a football metaphor to describe her summer 2019 commencement experience.
“I have a year left for my bachelor’s, so this is just my pre-game for the big graduation,” said Robinson.
She received her Associate of Arts degree from ATU on Saturday. Robinson already knows what she wants to do following the completion of her bachelor’s degree next year.
“I came in wanting to be a science teacher, but now I just want to work with kids and I don’t care what kind of teacher I am,” said Robinson. “I just want to teach. That’s what I’m on the road for.”
The end of a road can provide clarity. For Henderson, the North Little Rock firefighter with the master’s degree, that clarity includes the realization that he is a different person than the one who enrolled at Arkansas Tech.
“It’s matured me some and mellowed me out a little bit,” said Henderson. “It has rounded me as far as my decision-making processes. I have more basis and more credentials to work with when I am making life-important decisions at work. I’m taking my judgment more seriously, and I have opportunities available to me that I didn’t have before. I have an internal library that I can reach to, reference and modify to fit my needs.”