There are more reasons this season to support the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The Holiday Wish List Campaign reflects its pragmatic approach towards a relevant education that translates into meaningful professional opportunities and enriches the community.
Many UA Little Rock departments comprise this holiday campaign. An alumni representative for each department understands the impact and measurable results of the specific, emergent needs outlined in the wish list. Alumna LaSheena Gordon is an ardent ambassador for the institution and recognizes that a great metropolitan university is critical to the infrastructure of a vibrant city. She reflects on her tenure as a student and encourages others to support the campaign today.
“My favorite quotes when reflecting on the gift of attending UALR would come from Dr. Vickie Lind who would tell us “the teachers make the difference” and to “teach with the end in mind”. In every lesson she demonstrated just that and prepared us for the finish line of graduating so that we could apply the skills we learned. For the last seven years as an educator, I am intentional about being the difference for my students. My professors were definitely the difference for me. I would tell them and everyone that I always believed that they were divinely assigned to UA Little Rock for a purpose at the time that they were there. I was a non-traditional student returning to UA Little Rock. Rather than being the bright-eyed freshman, I was a mom of four children with a full-time job exhausted all of the time trying to sing with a healthy voice and memorize literature. My first voice teacher, Linda Austin, told me I would have to get loans and be willing to let something go to make it through as she worked with my chaotic schedule. Dr. Underwood said to never allow my children to stop my education. Instead, he advised me to allow them to be inspired by it. He allowed me to bring them with me and they sat as I completed my work! As life began to balance itself out, my professors continued to be references for sponsored trips to the opera as Dr. Karen Bryan partnered with Dr. & Mrs. Boop and Melissa Thoma for students to attend the Dallas Opera and the Memphis Opera. My professors wrote references and recommendations for these trips and scholarships. This allowed life to balance a little bit more. As I continued – the scheduling began to balance, the children got older and more independent, I was less exhausted and able to produce a better sound and my Professor Edward Crafts encouraged me to audition for the Memphis Opera Chorus. I landed that audition and sang with them for two years commuting, working, raising family and completing a full schedule of 21 and 18 credits per semester. Dr. Bryan regularly flagged my schedule and counseled me before approving it and told me to wave the flag and come to her if it ever became too much. The choir trips and performances with Dr. Bevan Keating have literally shaped my teaching style. The science of the voice I learned from Dr. Ferris Allen, gave me an understanding I hadn’t had before. I would not have been able to complete my education without the scholarships I received. My teachers made the difference! Now, I serve and give back as I hope to experience some of the places they have traveled one day as well as introduce my students to those places.
I have served on several community committees and boards in an effort to help raise money and awareness of the arts where I can. I pray you will consider giving and know that your gift will keep on giving and never be forgotten. It actually becomes contagious and inspires others to give once they can. The gift of finances to assist reaching their goals in education through music, sets them up to truly begin their journey of music as a vocation.”
Photography by Tonya Burton