Four student groups from a community leadership class at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith presented projects they’ve worked on throughout the semester during a presentation May 4 on UAFS campus.
The presentations were held at 4 p.m. in the Latture Conference Center, featuring projects by students who are completing the university’s Certificate of Proficiency in Community Leadership. The students completed the projects as part of a senior-level management course co-instructed by Rusty Myers and Fred Williams, executives in residence for the College of Business.
The first presentation, “The Bridge of Generations,” proposed to increase interaction between UAFS students and senior citizens in the community to bridge the gap between Fort Smith’s youth and elderly populations. The students plan to create outreach programs and community events to foster engagement between the two demographics and have also formed a student organization on campus to advance their cause.
The second student team proposed the construction of a wheelchair-accessible baseball field for children in the Fort Smith region challenged with disabilities. According to the team’s research, there are more than 3,000 disabled children living the area that could benefit from the venue. Little Rock and Springdale have similar facilities, and the students worked with city officials to identify possible locations in Ben Geren Park.
The third project proposed creating a center for area teenagers to provide them a safe and friendly recreational environment. The center would contain activities to enhance their cultural knowledge -- like learning a new language -- as well as interactive games, dance and cooking lessons, and courses on financial and career planning.
The final group presented a veteran’s resource and job fair they coordinated to help local unemployed and underemployed veterans find employment. Companies including ArcBest Corp., Simmons Foods, Tyson Foods and USA Truck will be present at the job fair, which will occur May 20 in the Reynolds Room of the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center.
Williams praised the students’ work following their presentations.
“These are outstanding people,” Williams said of the students. “Many of them are holding down two jobs, raising families and going to school, and the work they’ve turned in has been pretty impressive. These are outstanding young leaders.”
“You can tell by the enthusiasm of all of them -- from helping the elderly, to veterans, to handicapped kids, and what they’re doing with the teenagers -- you’ll notice they’re all thinking of others,” he continued. “They’ve done a good job, and I’m very proud of them.”
Students participating in the presentations were:
Alma: Austin Duerr.
Fort Smith: Manila Bounthanthy, Dirk Diment, Jordan Erz, Michael Mars, Kevin Mirzaei, David Payton, Maggie Phrachanpheng and Kevin Tran.
Grannis: Karina Garcia.
Greenwood: Mark Couch.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Ngan Tran.
Houston, Texas: Jordan Cordray.
Lavaca: Jacob James and Josh James.
Mansfield: Krystal Ziegenbein.
Mountainburg: Kendall Beller.
Pocola, Okla.: Thomas Marrazzo.
Roland, Okla.: Dawn Birth.
Van Buren: Rebecca Dayberry, Zach Houston, and Lenee Nastav.
Attending were UAFS administrators and faculty members, community members, and elected officials, including Rep. George McGill and Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders.