The UA Fort Smith Alumni Association will feature young alumni and what their life after graduation has been like. If you would like to be featured, please e-mail

Friday, April 30, 2010

Brock Girard '03

I graduated from UAFS in the Spring of 2003 with an Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design. We were the second class to finish the then very young program. The school was actually Westark Community College when I started, but switched to UA Fort Smith during my enrollment. It’s amazing how far the graphic design program has come since then!

My life is a lot different than it was in 2003. I’m a husband, a father of two, an experienced graphic designer and most importantly a Christian. In my spare time (ha!) I love watching sports. Especially, my childhood favorite team the Chicago Cubs. I’m also a Dallas Cowboys and Arkansas Razorbacks fan. When I’m not watching sports, but probably more accurately during time-outs, I’m using my iPhone or reading rumors about the next great Apple invention. Surprising for a graphic designer, I know.

My family and I are greatly involved in our church – Heritage United Methodist Church in Van Buren. I run sound in our contemporary service, serve on the Lay Leadership Development Team and occasionally usher. Heritage is an amazing church and I recommend it to anyone looking for a place to worship in the River Valley.

(My wife and I with our two kids)

Since graduating I’ve worked at some really great places in Fort Smith. I got my feet wet in the marketing department at Riverside Furniture. My projects ranged from creating a simple logo for a new line of furniture, to designing my share of a 120 page “magalog”, to flying to High Point, NC to shoot photography of our newest furniture in the showroom.

Since the fall of 2005 I’ve been the art director at Williams/Crawford & Associates, by far the oldest advertising agency in the River Valley. Our clients include nationally-know companies like Taco Bell, KFC and Golden Corral, as well as, local entities including First Bank Corp., Van Buren Advertising and Promotion and the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. I returned to Williams/Crawford full-time after originally interning in 2002.

I really did leave school with the knowledge and even experience needed to enter the workforce. But, unlike a lot of graduates, I didn’t leave with any debt. I truly do feel that I’ve received a first-class education right here at home and have been able to give back by serving on the UAFS Graphic Design Advisory Board and by working with interns. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had a great college experience at UA Fort Smith and who knows, maybe I’ll even go back to further my education!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Brook Lang '05

My name is Brook Lang and I graduated from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith in May of 2005 with an Information Technology – Web Development Bachelors degree. I was hired by ABF Freight System, Inc. as a Web Analyst in March of 2005. My duties included monitoring project schedules and timelines to ensure customer needs were met, project management between Director request(s) and programmers/customers, and lead projects until the end result was complete. In November of 2008, I was laid off due to budget cuts.  

(My family)
I looked for jobs for 9 months and repeatedly was told I was over qualified, frustrating to say the least. Yet, He had a plan for me and in August of 2009, my dream was realized and I opened Ultimutt Dog Care, LLC in Fort Smith with my best friend.

(At the ribbon cutting of Ultimutt)

Since then I spend my days grooming, watching dogs in day care, and overseeing the daily functions of a business.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Jeremy Lynch '06

In 2006 I was the first student at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in historical interpretation. A semester after graduation, I enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Oklahoma. After my first semester there, I was inducted into the Golden Key International Honor Society for my academic achievements. While seeking a graduate degree in museum studies I worked at the Fort Smith National Historic Site under the student career experience program.

(I'm 3rd from the left)

While working at the park, my supervisor sent me to a historic weapons training course. Since I enjoy reenacting and shooting Civil War artillery, I was overjoyed to attend. The training was held at Fort McClelland, Alabama for two weeks in February. There were one hundred students from National Parks all over the country, giving me the opportunity to meet like minded people. Every day we practiced musket and artillery drill while modern recruits performed their drill nearby. At times we were a distraction because of the variety of historical uniforms we wore. I witnessed recruits getting yelled at because when they paid attention to us rather than their drill. On the last day of the training we fired cannon balls from reproduction artillery pieces which made all the hard work worthwhile.

A few months later, the Park Service sent me to a different training at the Grand Canyon where I lived in the park for two weeks. My first day there it snowed seven inches. Afterwards, the snow melted and it remained around seventy degrees for the rest my visit. Most of the days there were spent in a classroom with fifty other students. Fortunately, when I had the weekends off I hiked both the Bright Angel and Kaibab Trails down into the canyon. On the last day of the training all the students put their money together for a large cookout and three rangers from Hawaii made a fabulous the barbecue. At each of these classes, I made great friends and met interesting individuals.

(On a trail down into the Canyon)

In the winter of 2008, I bought my first house with six acres. Buying my own home was one of the main accomplishments I wanted to achieve in life. Because I managed to find a house with land, I started a new hobby by planting a garden. It is my plan to learn how to successfully grow heirloom plants.

(graduating with  my master's degree)

Finally, in the spring of 2009, I graduated with my master’s degree. Soon after, The Park Service gave me a permanent job at the historic site. Each of these events was a completion of goals set before I graduated with my bachelor’s degree. Overall, it has been an exciting three years since I graduated from UA Fort Smith. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in historical interpretation gave me the building blocks to achieve many of my goals in life. I wish to thank all of my professors from UA Fort Smith who helped prepare me for such a great life.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ray Malouf '05

Five years ago, when I graduated from UA Fort Smith, I couldn’t have imagined what I’d be doing today. My journey has been one of adventure, challenge and fulfillment.

Photo from latest edition of the Walmart World Magazine

After graduating from UA Fort Smith with a business degree, the pace of my life accelerated, or at least it seemed that way. Two weeks after graduation, I married by best friend Monica. A few months later we moved to northwest Arkansas so I could attend John Brown University (JBU) for graduate school. The choice to attend JBU was easy for me because I received a Soderquist Fellowship that paid for my tuition and provided me with the opportunity to gain two years of professional experience. This was an incredible experience.

As a student, I learned so much and had the opportunity to study in Belfast, Northern Ireland. As a project coordinator at the Soderquist Center, I had the opportunity to work with leaders and organizations all across the world. In May 2007, I graduated at the top of my class with an MBA from John Brown University.

Belfast, Northern Ireland. Bobby Hoffmann and I June 2006.

During my last semester at JBU, I accepted a Communications Manager position with the Walmart Global Ethics Office. Before starting, Monica and I travelled through Europe for two weeks to celebrate a new chapter of our lives. My favorite part of the trip was standing at the foothills of the Zugspitze in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Incredible.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. May 2007.

I accepted the position at Walmart because I want my life to be measured by impact. I’ve been able to accomplish this goal. My first role at Walmart was to communicate Walmart’s ethical standards and the importance of working with integrity to Walmart associates around the world. Walmart employs more than 2 million associates! This was a challenge, but one that I was able to achieve. This past August I was recognized for my work and promoted to manage our ethics communication and education program that is designed to sustain Walmart’s ethical culture.

Walmart photo shoot. Photo can be found on the front page of the business section of the New York Times on January 25, 2009.

Through my experiences, I’ve learned that if I’m proactive and seek opportunities, I’ll usually find them. Maybe not as soon as I hope to, but when the timing is right. You can do the same. Live life to the fullest. That’s what my wife and I are doing. We’re expecting our first child in September.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Amanda Hargrave '04

I graduated from UA Fort Smith in the spring of 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. My last year at UAFS, I got a co-op position at Rheem in Fort Smith. I stayed there until I got a job at Beverly Enterprises (Golden Ventures), also in Fort Smith. I made it through my first job shake-up when Beverly was sold to a private equity firm. Due to the instability and my short term employment at Beverly, I decided it was in my best interest to pursue other career opportunities. I went to work for AIG, who at the time was ranked Number 9 (in 2009 it was ranked 245) in the list of Fortune 500 companies.

I knew that the job I was taking at AIG was not what I wanted my career to be, but it was interesting. I got to go to a few places that I probably wouldn’t have gone if I hadn’t been working there.

Below is a pic from a trip to NYC when my husband came up to see me on the weekend

When the demand of travelling eventually came to be too much and threatened to interfere with my plans for my destination wedding (total deal-breaker), I again decided to switch jobs. In 2007 I moved up the road to Rogers and began working for the world’s largest retailer. My now-husband (a 2005 UAFS graduate) also got a job at Walmart, and most importantly, my wedding in San Jose del Cabo went great!

My husband, my three cats, my greyhound, and I are all still up in Northwest Arkansas, and I am still employed at Walmart. Currently I am a manager of an accounting team and am getting ready to go through my second system conversion since 2007. I am in my second semester of the Managerial MBA program at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and am looking forward to going to India next winter for a few weeks as part of the study abroad program.

I would just like to end by saying that I loved my experience at UA Fort Smith. I believe the University did a great job in preparing me for the real-world by provoking problem solving, decision making, and analytical reasoning that is very much what is required in the business world. I think that that has a lot to do with the knowledge and high expectations of the students that the professors brought with them to every class.