When Brooklyn Woodworth looks back on the freshman version of herself in fall 2015, she sees a person who did not know a soul at Arkansas Tech University, was trying to overcome shyness and did not believe in herself.
When she looks in the mirror now, she sees an entirely different person.
“It’s really hard to imagine because I’ve seen so much growth in myself over the last four years,” said Woodworth, who is from Harrison. “You have to take that step out of your comfort zone. That’s why I’m so thankful for all of the faculty members at Tech and everything that Tech had to offer me in terms of leadership opportunities.”
Woodworth will receive the Margaret Young Award as the most outstanding senior female student at Arkansas Tech during spring commencement on Saturday, May 11, the same day she will graduate with honors and a Bachelor of Science degree in biology.
She can easily recall the moment when Amy Pennington, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students at ATU, shared the good news concerning the award.
“She sat me down and started explaining that I had won this award, and she had to bring me some tissues,” said Woodworth. “I’ll never forget the four years I spent at Arkansas Tech. When everyone talks about Tech and says that it’s a family, they’re not just saying that. I’ve lived it for the last four years. I never have to stress at Tech because I know someone will have my back.”
Paine Residence Hall is where she began to develop that support network. She lived there as a freshman and has fond memories of meeting friend and fellow 2019 ATU Who’s Who honoree Charley Jo Chesney there at an ice cream social early in their freshman year.
Woodworth’s positive experience as a Paine Hall resident led her to apply to become a resident assistant. She was selected and placed to live and work in Nutt Residence Hall.
“That was one of those really influential moments when I began to grow as a person,” said Woodworth. “As a resident assistant, you get to know people from all walks of life. You get to learn so much about yourself, and I think it really taught me a lot. I was able to plan events and network. I’m really thankful for that entire experience.”
In addition to her work on behalf of the ATU Office of Residence Life as a resident assistant and later as a resident director, Woodworth has served as a teaching assistant in Organic Chemistry. Unlike her work in residence life, the idea of becoming a teaching assistant seemed far-fetched at first.
“I wanted a career that would allow me to help people and work in the medical field,” said Woodworth. “So, coming to Tech, I had to jump in and take some harder classes. I remember specifically being in Organic Chemistry. It was one of the hardest classes I had ever taken, and that was a real struggle for me. My professor (Dr. Stewart Hart) gave me some study tips, and I actually did really well in that class because I had so much support from that professor.
“At the end of Organic Chemistry II, he asked me to be his teaching assistant,” continued Woodworth. “That sparked so much confidence in me, and I think it grew and grew after that. I knew I had to be confident in my abilities because other people were seeing that potential and really pushing me. So many other faculty and staff members at Tech did that for me. It gave me the confidence to reach out, do new things and feel comfortable in who I am.”
That confidence led to service as vice chair of Presidential Leadership Cabinet, a member of the 2018 ATU Homecoming court and president of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority.
“On top of the fun stuff that I get to do just hanging out with my sisters and friends, they really pushed me to be better in every aspect,” said Woodworth when asked about her sorority. “Academics is a really important part of Zeta, so we would have group study dates at the library and we had study hours we had to get. I always had that support group motivating me and pushing me to be better while also developing those friendships and doing fun things. I don’t know if I would be where I am today if I didn’t have that awesome support group.”
A track and cross country athlete during her days at Harrison High School, Woodworth satisfied her drive to compete by qualifying for and participating in the Miss Arkansas Pageant in 2016 and 2017.
It was the interview training in the Miss Arkansas system that proved most beneficial to Woodworth.
“The more I went through that process, I became more and more sure of my opinion and being able to express that more eloquently than I could before,” said Woodworth. “I think that really served me well applying for dental school. I had six dental school interviews, and I was accepted to all six of those schools. I think I owe a lot of that to the Miss America organization and Miss Arkansas for developing those interview skills, those public speaking skills and my confidence in general.”
With six programs to choose from, Woodworth selected the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry for her professional preparation. She will begin her studies there in fall 2019.
Woodworth wants to return home to Arkansas after dental school. Her career goal is to open a family dentistry practice and to volunteer at events designed to serve individuals, especially children, who do not have access to dental care.
“Everybody always says they hate going to the dentist because it’s so scary,” said Woodworth. “That’s what I love about going into this field…getting to help those people, calm them down and help them realize that going to the dentist is not so scary. I enjoy being that smiling face and assuring them that it’s going to be okay. Getting to see how excited they are when they get to eat again or when they feel comfortable in their smile…that is so special to me.”
Woodworth’s career and volunteer efforts will be a way of paying forward the support she received at the place she credits as making it all possible, Arkansas Tech University.
“Tech has made me into the person that I am today,” said Woodworth. “Every success I have or any great memory I have, I owe to the faculty members who saw something in me, my support group, people in residence life, people in my classes and my sisters in Zeta Tau Alpha. They all saw something in me and pushed me to be my best. Knowing that I am leaving at least a small mark on the place that made me who I am and did so much for me…there aren’t enough words to explain how humbled and honored I am.”