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Business and Industry | First Generation | Lion VoicesMay 03, 2024

First-Generation Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Kerrie Taber

Written By: First-Generation Committee

The First-Generation Faculty Spotlight for May 2024 features Dr. Kerrie Taber. She is an assistant professor of organizational leadership in the College of Business and Industry at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. Taber teaches students completing the traditional organizational leadership courses and students involved in the Adult Degree Completion Program.  

As a first-generation engineering student, Taber struggled to ask for help when her courses were challenging. Despite hesitating to reach out, Taber recalled a moment of unexpected encouragement during her undergraduate studies.  

“I had a professor stop his car next to me as I walked back to my dorm room after class.  He rolled down his window and told me that if I ever needed a recommendation to make sure to ask him,” Taber said.  “I was someone who did not think I stood out in class other than the fact that I was often the only female in class.  This let me know that my hard work was noticed and appreciated.  It gave me a little lift when I questioned whether I could make it through the engineering program.”  

Looking back on her experience as a woman in STEM and as a first-generation student, Taber said it was worth it to see her parents thrilled by her success.

“It made me feel good that I was able to make my parents proud of me for achieving what they hoped I would achieve,” she said.

As a professor with first-generation students learning concepts and practicing theories in her classroom, Taber approaches each lesson with an understanding of the challenges of not having someone available to talk to during stressful moments and does what she can to change that.

“I try to be that person for (students), whether it’s to give advice, be a sympathetic ear, or a cheerleader,” she explained.

Taber’s advice to current first-generation students is to not hesitate in asking for help. She reminds students, “There are a lot of people (at UAFS) ready and waiting to help, so ask for it.  It is not a sign of failure, but a sign of strength in knowing you need help.”

  • Tags:
  • First Generation
  • College of Business and Industry
  • Adult Degree Completion Program
  • Organizational Leadership

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  • Director of Strategic Communications
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