WHAT I DO NOW: I am the Executive Director of the United Way of Union County in El Dorado, Arkansas.
MY WORK/JOB CONSISTS OF: I am responsible for all administrative functions, fundraising, fund distribution and donor relations for the United Way of Union County. I organize and implement the annual campaign. I work closely with our board of directors and other volunteers, as well as develop and maintain partnerships with our 14 agencies and other community organizations, including local media, civic organizations and other health and human service organizations. I also direct the financial operations, including donations, financial reports, and the operating and endowment funds. I create campaign marketing tools and communication strategies to promote broad support and understanding of the United Way of Union County.
HOW I GOT TO LSUS (OR WHY I CHOSE LSUS): I didn't originally choose LSUS, but decided to come back home after a semester away at school. LSUS was an easy choice - it was affordable and the classes were convenient for my schedule.
FOND MEMORIES OF LSUS: I have a few, but I enjoyed the years I spent writing and later serving as Editor of The Almagest. I was also one of the first residents at University Court apartments, which was a memorable experience.
LSUS FACULTY WHO HELPED ME: Suzzanne Bright and Dr. Jack Nolan in the communications department were great mentors.
HOW LSUS HELPED ME SUCCEED: The process of earning a journalism degree offered experience in news/feature writing, photojournalism and public relations, which have continued to be assets for me since leaving the newspaper reporting field. With that background and experience, I worked in public information and community relations before moving into the non-profit sector several years ago. Writing, editing, public speaking and leadership skills - all of which were essential in my success at LSUS - are key factors in my position with United Way.
ADVICE TO COLLEGE-BOUND STUDENTS: Don't be afraid to ask questions and don't miss any opportunity to apply for financial aid or scholarships.
ADVICE TO SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO ENTER MY FIELD: So much has changed in the field of journalism since I graduated. With the advent of the internet and social media, print journalism is just not the same as it was when I received my degree in 1995. I remember being so excited that we could lay out the campus newspaper on a computer! But, I would caution anyone wanting to enter the communications field to remember the importance of reporting correct and concise news - check and double check.
TIPS ON CHOOSING A MAJOR/CAREER: I decided in middle school what I wanted to do when I finished school and I didn't change my major in my college career. I would encourage students to look for internships in their desired field. Test the waters and make sure before you invest a lot of time and money.
MY TOUGHEST PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGE: My toughest professional challenge came fairly early in my career. After several years as a reporter for a small town newspaper, I was offered an opportunity in a different field that I just couldn't pass up. It was a difficult decision at the time, but I look back now at the experience I gained and how I have used my degree in unconventional ways; I have never looked back.
SUCCESSES IN MY LIFE: I have been very fortunate to live in a community that is so volunteer- minded. I feel my greatest successes have been my involvement with many local organizations. I was part of the inaugural Leadership Arkansas Class and a graduate of the three-year Community Development Institute at the University of Central Arkansas. I am past president of the El Dorado Jaycees, past committee chair for MusicFest, and currently serve as secretary-treasurer of Rotary Club of El Dorado and Crime Stoppers of El Dorado, and publicity chair for Keep El Dorado Beautiful. As the director of a nonprofit that works with 14 community agencies, I also volunteer for many of our partners and the local animal shelter.
I'VE LEARNED THIS FROM LIFE: Almost every cliché contains a truth so profound that people have been compelled to repeat it until it makes you roll your eyes, but the wisdom is still there. That being said, I've learned that nobody has it all figured out.
WHAT I WOULD BE DOING IF I HAD ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD: If I had all the time in the world, I think I would spend a lot of it with dogs. I have four pawed children and two of those are rescue dogs. I have volunteered at the local animal shelter and helped with several low-cost spay/neuter clinics. If my days had more free time, I definitely would care for the animals that no one cared for.