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UAFS students read book together on campus

ELLIOT NEMETH: Elliot thought he knew what he wanted to do, but then life got in the way.

BT-Current | Bell Tower Magazine | Business and IndustryFebruary 14, 2022

Changing Focus

Elliot Nemeth is an international business and consumer marketing major in the College of Business and Industry. He is a barista. A professional photographer and licensed drone pilot. He leads the Chi Alpha campus ministry and on the worship team at his church. He sings, plays guitar, and gleefully shows his Canadian pride with a maple leaf sticker on his water bottle and his longboard. He’s a busy man, soaking up the multitude of opportunities UAFS and the River Valley have to offer. And he’s made time to answer some questions about those opportunities today:

How do you describe yourself?

I am an extrovert, a real people person. Anyone who’s met me will tell you that straight away. Last year I had COVID-19, and despite the coughing and the fever, the worst part for me was definitely the isolation. I remember toward the end of my isolation a friend figured out a way we could play a board game while 12 feet apart. It made my whole month.

Tell me about your working schedule.

In addition to attending school full time, I am the senior photography assistant in the UAFS marketing department and a barista at The Artistic Bean. I love having the freedom to be creative and use what I learn in my classes. At “the Bean” I helped the owners shift to making our bakery items in house because of accounting skills I’d learned in my classes.

How did you decide on your major?

When I chose international business I had a plan to return to Canada, and as I explored my creative talents in photography and the Marketing Office at UAFS, I realized I had a unique position to bridge the gap between creatives and businesses, so I added a marketing concentration.

This past year, I realized I really wanted to own a business. I was so encouraged by people around me and after some prayer, I changed that concentration to small business management. It meant adding another year to my education, but I am perfectly happy with that because I know I’m where I’m called to be. I love Jesus. And while I miss the cold and the snow, I believe Jesus has a vision for me in Fort Smith.

So you want to be an entrepreneur?

When I graduate in 2023, I hope to open a coffee shop somewhere near campus - that’s something that’s missing on Grand Avenue. A lot of students are looking for a place to hang out, and many of our international students don’t have cars, so a welcoming place students can walk to would be so appreciated.

It is a shift from international business, but it’s also a shift in calling. I’ve decided this is my home now. I see a lot of students who have always lived in Fort Smith leave because they want something different. But I’m an outsider. I only recently moved here, and it’s the biggest city I’ve ever lived in. I love Fort Smith, and I feel a calling to make it an even more enjoyable place.

Did the Mentor Connections program help you find that path?

Absolutely. I started this year, and I have a great team. RC Sims, ’17, works at the First National Bank in Mena and is the young alumni team member. He is trying to get a virtual business off the ground. Tim Baily, who owns Candy Craze, is the executive mentor. There are 14 Candy Craze stores, including Fort Smith, and all across the South. After one meeting with RC and Tim, I knew I wanted to open a business here. If they can succeed here, maybe I can too. They’ve even encouraged me to dive into creating my business plan.

What are your plans after that?

I am really a self-starter. I don’t think this will be the only business I own. I’d like to get the coffee shop up and running profitably, then pass it into capable hands and start something else in a different part of town. I want to see Fort Smith become a place of economic prosperity, and I want to be part of its revitalization.