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News | Business and IndustryJanuary 25, 2023

Business Major Values Friendship, Involvement, and Planning

Unlike most students on their first day of college at UAFS, JT Beasley showed up at Cub Camp in August with 32 credits and a plan to complete his college degree for free. 

Those 32 credits represented the first step of his plan. While he was a student at Northside, JT had done some thinking about how to spend his time. He liked the Advanced Placement program well enough, but it didn’t seem to use time efficiently. He could spend a whole year in AP English or complete two college-level English courses in the same amount of time. The choice was easy.

JT took advantage of concurrent credits through Smart Start, which allows high school students to earn high school and college credits in classes that are part of the core curriculum at UAFS and other universities. 

In addition to the English classes, JT took psychology, speech, college algebra, statistics, and some drone classes. When he graduated from high school, he had already achieved his first year of college for free. 

As for the rest: JT was awarded the prestigious First Bank Corp Scholarship, a four-year, full-ride award. He also earned the Arkansas Challenge Scholarship – created by the proceeds of the Lottery in Arkansas – to help with incidentals. He also received a $1,000 award for participating in the Business and Entrepreneur Living Learning Center. 

LLCs at UAFS bring students with similar interests and majors together for their first year on campus. JT is living with other business majors. They have some classes in common and participate in learning and social activities on campus and off. 

Business LLC students had dinner with the Business and Industry dean, Dr. Latisha Settlage. At a more casual dining opportunity, they had a nacho bar. One of their first events was a ping pong tournament, which, JT added, he won. He said activities are often a surprise, which is OK with him.

“They don’t usually tell us what we’ll be doing until a few days before,” he said. “I like it because it gives us something to look forward to.”

Past LLC groups had higher grade point averages, completed more credits, and reenrolled at a higher rate than similar groups of students. 

JT knows that the LLCs serve many purposes, but what matters most to him is companionship. 

“It gives great opportunities for hanging out and talking outside of class and LLC activities,” he said. “Without the LLC, I don’t know if I would be able to know these people.”

For a first-year student, JT is surprisingly well-connected; he acknowledges this, saying, “I can’t go anywhere on campus without seeing someone I know.”

In addition to participating in LLC activities, he is the College of Business & Industry representative to the Student Government Association. “It’s like being an at-large member, but I get to learn more about my college,” he explained.

JT also belongs to the Men of Excellence group on campus. Although most other members are young men of color, JT said he admires the group’s values. 

“I love what they do. An organization that is just for men provides togetherness and friendship,” he said. He joined the group picking up trash on Waldron and Free Ferry roads as part of Clean Up Fort Smith, and he is looking forward to a trip to Topgolf in Fayetteville.  

“I love UAFS,” he said. “It helps that I got involved.” 

Obviously, a student like JT Beasley could go to a lot of different schools. He said it was hard on his mother when his sisters went away to college, and she was hoping he’d stay close to home. 

As to why he chose UA-Fort Smith over UA - Fayetteville, JT said that choice was easy too. 

“It was clear that UAFS really wanted me. I would hear from them twice a week. Fayetteville might send one thing a month.”

Now that he’s wrapped up his first semester, he has no regrets. He admires the faculty he’s had, including adjunct professor Dennis Sprouse and Dr. Mohamed Zainuba, associate professor of management. 

“Dr. Zainuba is an amazing teacher, almost over-qualified. He talks about what you can do with your degree, not just in general but with your concentrations,” he said. 

Right now, JT can see three possible career paths related to his concentrations: accounting, investing, and maybe marketing. Business law might be a fourth possibility. 

When he gets a little further along, he will make his next plan. Right now, he’s happy right where he is.