Women’s History Month Feature: Euna Harrell

Euna Harrell 1925
Euna Harrell's senior portrait and her cap-and-gown photo from the 1925 Agricola yearbook at Arkansas Polytechnic College.

In many ways, Euna Harrell was just like her fellow members of the Arkansas Polytechnic College Class of 1925.

Collectively, they were attempting to become the first college graduates from the school and fulfill a mission they had started together under uncertain circumstances.

But there was at least one difference between Harrell and her 20 classmates.

Harrell was the only female in the Arkansas Tech Class of 1925 and thus the first woman to earn a bachelor’s degree from the institution that became Arkansas Tech University. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in home economics on May 6, 1925.

The task of writing the senior class history for the 1925 Agricola yearbook fell to her.

“I, being the only girl in the class, am afraid to expose to the public all the inner secrets of these boys,” wrote Harrell, “but considering them as a whole I have never known a nicer crowd with whom to work and be associated.”

A native of the Cato community in rural Faulkner County, Harrell was the daughter of Dutchie and Henry Harrell. She had completed her high school diploma in spring 1922 when the school was known as the Second District Agricultural School. Then, with no guarantee that the end result would be a recognized degree, she enrolled in the college program founded by President Hugh Critz in fall 1922.

“Until January of this year (1925) most of us were very doubtful about our getting a degree, since the law of the state stated that no degrees could be given as long as we were the Second District Agricultural School,” wrote Harrell. “This necessitated our developing and broadening into a college. With a long hard fight on the part of some of our distinguished supporters in the legislature, the bill passed that the Second District Agricultural School should be changed to the Arkansas Polytechnic College.”

The name change was subsequently signed into law by Gov. Thomas J. Terral on Feb. 10, 1925.

Harrell observed that her class possessed “a spirit to fight for a job and to stay with it.”

None more so than Harrell. She played basketball and tennis. She was active in the girls’ glee club, the music club, the Periclean Literary Society, the drama club and the Young Women’s Christian Association.

Harrell also served as local editor for the school newspaper and was a piano teacher during her days at Arkansas Tech.

After graduating from Arkansas Tech, Harrell worked for the University of Arkansas Extension Service and taught home economics at Mena High School. Wife of William D. Worthington, she retired from teaching in 1967.

Euna lived to the age of 92. She was a resident of Pine Bluff at the time of her passing on Aug. 4, 1995.

This is how her peers captured her spirit and character in the pages of the 1925 Agricola:

“If by trying and retrying a mortal may climb to earthly peerage, then surely a crown will be her honor some day.”