About Town

UA Little Rock Leader – Helaine Williams

Photography by Sarah Oden

Why UA Little Rock? Besides being a mama’s girl and not wanting to leave town (let alone the state) to attend college, I was impressed with the journalism chairman and members of the journalism faculty at UA Little Rock at the time. I’d first met them in 1979, at a summer workshop designed to get students of color interested in journalism as a career. After entering UA Little Rock in the fall of 1980, I finally graduated in August 2000 after what I have widely joked was a “14-year spring break.”

What did you study at UA Little Rock? I studied – what else? – journalism, with a minor in psychology.

What does the UA Little Rock education bring to your professional portfolio? It actually started it, so to speak. My first Arkansas Democrat job, which I began at the end of my freshman year, was one of the jobs whose availability was regularly posted on the bulletin board in the journalism department. Although I dropped out of school in 1984, I managed to bring to the newspaper much of what I’d learned in class – respect for the Fourth Estate in general; the importance of fairness as well as accuracy and (although some of my old editors may disagree with this!) the importance of deadlines — and build a career despite not having finished my degree at the time. When I dropped back in school in 1998, my continuing education at UA Little Rock and my experience at the Democrat-Gazette complemented each other perfectly.

What role does UA Little Rock play in your professional life? I’m always happy to have a chance to tell the many stories that come out of UA Little Rock as it has grown in prominence and influence and cemented its place as one of the educational backbones of our community and state.  I especially got a kick out of being the reporter who wrote the High Profile cover story on UA Little Rock’s first woman chancellor.

What role does UA Little Rock play in your personal life? It plays a prominent enough role that I served, for a time, on the UA Little Rock alumni board and hated to leave once that time was up. I also get quite competitive when the UA Little Rock basketball teams play those at my husband’s school, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (He will only call it by the initials of its former name, University of Southwest Louisiana.) When we attend UA Little Rock/Louisiana games at the Jack Stephens Center, I tell people we’re in a “mixed marriage.”

Affordable and relevant, a great metropolitan university is critical to the infrastructure of a vibrant city. It also requires a strong alumni association that’s engaged in civic and business leadership throughout the Capital City. UA Little Rock boasts both – with a shared vision for the future. As UA Little Rock celebrates the success of its alumni, the university and alumni reflect on the role the institution plays in the continued economic development of Central Arkansas and the wealth of knowledge is offer current students.

Helaine Williams

‘00 B.A. Journalism, Minor in Psychology

Sunday Style Editor, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Inviting Arkansas

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