Regardless of whether she was serving as Student Government Association president, winning the Miss Tech pageant or applying her training in journalism for the student newspaper or the student television station, Leslie Miller Harris always found a way to stay busy during her days as a student at Arkansas Tech University. So it is no surprise that when she started looking for a way to challenge herself as she began a new life in Little Rock, Harris set her sights high. Harris has been accepted to both the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. “I have experienced the bustle of Times Square in New York City and toured the historic monuments of Washington D.C., but as a native Arkansan, there is only one state I call home,” said Harris, the 2008 Margaret Young Award winner for top graduating female at Arkansas Tech. “I am very fortunate that in the heart of this state lies the country’s only concurrent degree program in law and public service. The Clinton School of Public Service and the Bowen School of Law are my first choice for the continuation of my education because of their commitment to practical hands-on experience and desire for students to learn the importance of serving others.” After spending the 2010-11 academic year focusing on law school, Harris will begin studying in the programs concurrently in fall 2011. Upon completion of her studies, Harris will earn a Master of Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service and a Juris Doctorate from the Bowen School of Law.
Harris began investigating the Clinton School of Public Service after her husband and fellow 2008 Arkansas Tech graduate, Zach Harris, was accepted to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to continue his education. “Zach has always known he wanted to be a doctor, but I have struggled to find a specific calling for my life,” said Harris. “I think it has been difficult for me because my passions and abilities do not fit neatly into a package typically expected by the business community. My desire is to make a difference in the world. I want it to be a better place because I took the time to care. As I began the process of researching law school, I was immediately interested in the concurrent degree program with the Clinton School of Public Service. When I read their mission and saw the work their students were doing, I felt like I finally found a program that understood me.” Since graduating from Arkansas Tech, Harris has served as an oral communications teacher in the Alma School District. She will complete that assignment this spring before moving to Little Rock, but she will take some valuable lessons from her two years in the classroom. “That experience taught me how to be flexible in my approach to problem solving and how to find common ground with people who are different than me,” said Harris. “In the future, I want to develop these skills further and use them to reach a wider variety of people. I may not yet know what my job title will be, but I know it will be a continuation of service to others on a local, national and even global level.” That desire to help others will help Harris persist through the academic challenges that she has chosen for herself. The other factor that will aid her in her efforts is the support of a husband going through much the same experience in medical school. “I can honestly say I would not have had the courage to enter this concurrent degree program without Zach’s support,” said Harris. “I jokingly tell people that Zach is going to be so busy with homework for the next four years that I figured I wouldn’t see him anyway — might as well find something to do myself so I don’t get upset that he’s too busy for me.
“In all actuality, we are both counting on the other for support when the stresses of our studies begin to weigh on us,” continued Harris. “When I get nervous about school, he says ‘I know you can do this,’ and I do the same for him. Higher education has always been a priority for us, and we are excited to go through this adventure together.”]]>