University of the Ozarks junior Luis Garcia had not travelled much outside of his hometown of Clarksville when he decided to spend the Fall 2019 Semester studying abroad in Spain. He called the decision to step outside his comfort zone one of the best he’s ever made.
The business administration major spent the semester studying at the Universidad de Granada in Granada, Spain, through a company called Sol Education Abroad.
“As a commuter student, it was a tough decision to go since I’m so used to being with my family,” Garcia said. “But I’m so glad I did it. This opportunity helped me experience a true college experience and grow individually in a whole new continent. Studying abroad taught me that learning isn’t just in the school but also in the various settings you place yourself. Granada is a city rich in history and culture, and I learned more in that semester abroad than any other semester.”
Garcia took 15 credit hours in courses such as Latin American civilization and culture, Spanish literature, Spanish grammar, marketing communication, and economics and business in Spain and Latin America.
“One great thing about doing my courses abroad was the language difference,” Garcia said. “All my classes where in Spanish, which helped me learn Spaniard Spanish and learn the subject in a different language. Another benefit about being abroad is having the opportunity to learn the different education system. The way they teach in Spain is different from the USA. They have different priorities and standards which was really nice to learn about as well.”
The lessons were just as valuable outside the classroom as well.
“I was learning many new things every day in so many different aspects,” Garcia said. “it helped me gain skills in money management, self-awareness, courage and problem-solving as an individual. I grew so much as a person.”
Garcia said one of the most memorable parts of the experience was staying with a host family that was organized through Sol Education Abroad. He said a typical day would start with breakfast with his host family before walking to classes.
“Our classes would be two hours long but we had a short break during class to get a snack or buy a coffee,” he said. “After class, my friends and I would walk to a coffee shop called Qarmita, owned by a Venezuelan refugee who became a great friend of ours. We would finish our homework for the day and then would head back home to eat lunch at 3 p.m. with our host families. After lunch we would take a siesta, which is very common in Spain. As a professional napper, there wasn’t much to complain about. Once nap time was over, my friends and I would gather again and walk around the city of Granada and go for tapas, which is an appetizer or snack in Spanish cuisine. To finish most of our days, we would usually head to the church of San Miguel Alto, which is the highest viewpoint of Granada. It had a great view of La Alhambra and was the perfect place to watch the sun set.”
Garcia became fast friends with many of his classmates who came from around the United States as well as Europe and South America. They were also able to bond though long weekend excursions around Europe.
“In Europe, it is easy to travel to many countries for an affordable price, so we took advantage of that,” he said. “We also had the chance to really explore Granada. It seemed like every day we got to see something new in the city. Granada would host many events like art shows, comic book sales, local market sale, movie week, Christmas light shows and other family events where we discovered new things to do.”
Garcia said once he made up his mind to study abroad, he was surprised how easily and quickly the experience came together. Much of his trip was funded through a University grant, the Academic Enrichment Fund, that assists students with study abroad trips or research projects.
“The professors and staff at Ozarks were really helpful in providing information and tips for my study abroad opportunity,” Garcia said. “They always encouraged me and informed me about grants I could apply for to help me financially, such as the Academic Enrichment Fund. And, Sol Education Abroad handled many of the details and set me up with a great host family.”
Garcia said his study abroad experience is just the latest step in his growth as student. “This University has encouraged and pushed me outside my comfort zone in so many ways and that’s helped me learn and grow,” he said. “I was fortunate to take the roles as student ambassador and Ozarks experience mentor leader while I’ve attended here. These two important roles allowed me to grow and the study abroad trip was the next step. I can’t wait to see what comes next.”
Rebecca McCarron just may be the ideal poster student for the University of the Ozarks’ LENS program.
The senior from Covington, La., is graduating on Saturday with Magna Cum Laude honors with a major in health science and minors in English and business administration. The unique combination of disciplines is a trademark of LENS, which stands for Learning Environment for New Synthesis. LENS was implemented at Ozarks in 2016 as a new academic model to provide students a more customized and diverse educational experience. It allows students to choose a major and two minors, all from different academic divisions.
McCarron, who plans to pursue a career in occupational therapy, said her particular areas of study fit perfectly within both her personal interests and career ambitions.
“I originally chose health science as a major and business administration as a minor in order to be an occupational therapist who could run her own practice,” McCarron said. “English came into the picture because literature is a hobby of mine. Over the course of my years here, I realized my major taught me the science, but my minors taught me how to communicate more effectively with others and to be able to analyze and assess situationally. I believe they fit together nicely because, like the LENS program was intended, I am able to pull knowledge and information from any of the areas to have different perspectives for any given situation. I think that will be beneficial in a career that is always evolving. I appreciate that in my LENS arsenal I am able access the scientific, the hard line of rationale and the creative.”
A member of the women’s soccer team for four years, McCarron earned all-conference honorable mention honors as a freshman before a string of knee injuries kept her off the field and in the training room for most of the next three seasons. That experience of rehabbing and recovering was the impetus for her career choice and is something she believes will make her a better occupational therapist.
“As I was going through my clinical experiences, I definitely found myself relating to patients that I observed, even more than I thought I would,” McCarron said. “I hope to have a career in the pediatric occupational therapy field, and I chose this path because I wanted to help individuals, especially the youth, find a independence within themselves that they may have thought wasn’t possible because of a disability or illness. Believing in yourself and working to achieve your goals is an amazing feat. I want to be able to help others accomplish those feats.”
McCarron said the injury experience also helped put things in proper perspective.
“I’ve just learned to appreciate every second of everything I get the opportunity to participate in,” she said. “I used to have a mindset that I ‘had’ to do this or that but now my mindset has changed to ‘I have the chance to’ or ‘I am able to.’ You never realize the things you take for granted until you lose the ability to do them all together. I also learned that you can still be a part of something without being the biggest contributor. I like to consider myself the glue to the team these past few years because I was able to bring everyone back together for one purpose and that was to be grateful for the opportunity to play collegiate soccer.”
Serving as a student ambassador and an Ozarks Experience mentor, McCarron was one of the University’s biggest cheerleaders and advocates, especially when it came to helping recruit prospective students and showing them around campus. She was reminded of that recently when a freshman, whom she escorted around campus on a tour as a prospective student, stopped her to talk.
“She remembered me giving her a tour last year and she came up to me and thanked me,” McCarron said. “She told me that she came to Ozarks because she fell in love with the stories that I had shared during the tour about the professors and all the experiences I had. She said she wanted to have experiences and stories like that too and then she told me that she had already had those experiences during her first semester. That’s what is great about Ozarks; the connections and memories you create here. And those connections and memories can begin immediately. It will be hard leaving behind the memories and people that I have grown to appreciate having around me because they represent what Ozarks is all about.”
McCarron said that when she walks across the stage on Saturday to receive her diploma, it will be the relationships she’s developed at Ozarks that she will be most thankful for.
“I will forever remember the relationships I have made here,” she said. “I am so thankful for the professors, coaches, teammates and friends that have pushed me to be better than I originally was. I will never be able to show how much appreciation I have towards all of them for helping me strive toward my goals.”
And, as if right on cue, the future occupational therapist provided another strong testament to the LENS program by quoting a symbolic line from the novel The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a book she had recently read in a class led by English Professor Dr. Amy Oatis.
“As I told Dr. Oatis, I intend to carry the fire into whatever comes next for me, and I am able to thank Ozarks for that,” McCarron said. “Ozarks will always have a place in my heart as home, and one day I hope to return the favor to the place that helped me start on the path towards achieving my goals.”
Though they’re doing it in markedly different ways, 2016 graduates Liliam López and Debora Castro are each using their University of the Ozarks business degrees to make a positive impact in their respective Central America countries.
The two former Walton International Scholars visited campus recently and talked about their professional careers.
López, (pictured, left) a marketing and management/business administration major living in Choluteca, Honduras, is an analyst coordinator for the Agrolibano Group, one of the top cantaloupe-producing companies in the Americas. Castro, an international business and management major living in San Salvador, El Salvador, is a partnership/advocacy technical assistant for a USAID project called Bridges to Employment, which helps at-risk youth in the country gain training and find employment.
The Agrolibano Group exports more than 4,000 large shipping containers of melons each growing season, which runs from December to May. While the fruit is shipped around the world, about 50 percent of the melons head to either the United States or Europe. López is the coordinator of the Great Britain account, handling financial reports, quality control and customer service.
López, who has worked for the company for almost three years, said it is especially satisfying to know that she is helping to promote and advance Honduras through her work.
“I’m really proud when I hear about melons from Honduras that are eaten around the world,” she said. “People will send me pictures of the stickers and it’s really neat to see. I know the passion that the growers in Honduras have for their melons and I know the work that is done to produce them, so I’m especially proud to play a small role in producing something that is in demand all over the world.”
López credited Ozarks’ diverse student population for helping her prepare to work for a global company.
“At Ozarks, you learn to get along and interact with so many different cultures and that’s been very beneficial to me,” she said. “I work with clients from all over the world and I strongly believe that my time at Ozarks has helped me in my daily interactions with my clients. Ozarks helped instill in me a cultural sensitivity and openness to others.”
Castro has worked for almost three years for the non-profit Bridges to Employment project, which is funded by USAID and implemented by DAI Global, LLC. The program works with at-risk and vulnerable youth between the ages of 16-29 in El Salvador to “successfully integrate them into the workforce as fully qualified and productive citizens to help boost the economy, lower crime, and reduce illegal immigration.”
Castro said the type of work she is doing is what she envisioned when she first came to Ozarks as a Walton Scholar.
“When I was selected as a Walton Scholar, I had dreams of going back home and helping my country, but I didn’t know exactly what that would look like or how I could do that,” Castro said, “Now I’m working with a program which uses national and international cooperation that, working together, we actually change things for the better. It’s very fulfilling, professionally, for me because I’m contributing to the development of my country and actually making an impact. That’s exactly what I wanted to do.”
Castro said her time at Ozarks and her involvement in service-oriented organizations like Enactus, PBL and Alpha & Omega helped her understand and appreciate the importance of giving back.
“The volunteering and service opportunities I had at Ozarks really opened my eyes to the impact that we all can have on others,” Castro said. “My desire to help others was definitely boosted at Ozarks and now that’s what I do for a living. My education and experiences at Ozarks prepared me perfectly for this.”University of the Ozarks officials have announced that Dr. David Daily (right) and Joel Rossmaier have been named academic deans in their respective divisions, effective July 1. Daily, professor of religion, will serve as the dean of the Humanities & Fine Arts Division, while Rossmaier, associate professor of practice of business and accounting, will be the dean of the University’s Division of Social Sciences. The appointments coincide with the July 1 reorganization of the academic divisions. Daily has taught at Ozarks since 2000 and received the University’s Bagwell Outstanding Faculty Award in both 2004 and 2009. He will replace Dr. Steve Oatis, professor of history, who has served as dean since 2015. “It will be an honor to serve as dean of the Division of Humanities & Fine Arts,” Daily said. “Through his years in that role, Steve Oatis has put the division on a strong footing, and I look forward to building on his work.” Rossmaier, joined Ozarks in 2002 as an adjunct instructor and became a full-time professor in 2003. He served as interim dean of the Division of Business at Ozarks for the 2018-19 academic year. “I am honored to be named as the dean of the Division of Social Sciences,” Rossmaier said. “The University is going through some exciting changes right now, and I look forward to being able to contribute to the growth of the programs within the division.” University Provost Dr. Alyson Gill commended the two new deans, who have a combined 36 years of Ozarks teaching experience. “Dr. Daily is a deeply respected member of the Ozarks community, and I am thrilled that he has agreed to take on this new role,” said Gill. “Since I have known him, I have found his to be a voice of gentle reason, and he brings with him not only a love for the Ozarks community, but a commitment to leading in a time of unprecedented growth with pedagogical richness. As the new dean of Humanities & Fine Arts, I believe that he will play a critical role in providing strong, consistent and communicative leadership for the division.” “Last year, I asked Professor Rossmaier to serve as interim Dean of Business. I have seen him step more fully into that role, and have grown to rely on his sound advice and ability to view things from multiple perspectives. He is a skilled navigator of complex spreadsheets, and comes into this role as a respected and thoughtful leader.” Oatis will return to full-time teaching and will continue to chair the provost advisory group and serve as the division representative on the HLC strategic assessment team. “As a new provost, I appreciate Dr. Oatis’ tireless efforts in leading the division over the years,” Gill said. “This cannot be overstated, and I am deeply grateful for his service to the University—a place that he loves and is deeply invested in.” In a related note, beginning July 1 the four current academic divisions will be aligned to reflect the LENS curriculum and will be known as Humanities & Fine Arts, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences & Mathematics divisions. With this re-organization, the communication and sociology disciplines will move to Social Sciences. The reorganized divisions: Humanities & Fine Arts (Dr. David Daily, Dean) MAJORS: Art, English, History, Music, Philosophy, Religion, Spanish, Theatre MINORS: American Studies, Art, Creative Writing & Thought, English, History, Interfaith Studies, Music, Philosophy, Religion, Spanish, Theatre Social Sciences (Joel Rossmaier, Dean) MAJORS: Accounting, Business Administration, Communication Studies, Elementary Education, Environmental Studies, Physical Education K-12, Political Science, Sociology MINORS: Accounting, Athletic Coaching, Business Administration, Communication Studies, Criminal Justice, Economics, Education, Film Studies, Management, Marketing, Media Production, Military Science, Physical Education, Political Science, Sociology, Strategic Communication Natural Sciences & Mathematics (Dr. Sean Coleman, Dean) MAJORS: Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Health Science, Mathematics, Psychology MINORS: Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Health Science, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology, Sustainable Agriculture The University of the Ozarks’ Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) team captured a total of 19 top-five finishes at the 57th annual PBL State Leadership Conference, held April 5-6 in Little Rock. PBL members from U of O tallied three first-place awards, seven second-place finishes, two third-place awards and seven other top-five honors during the annual state-wide event that draws PBL chapters from universities and colleges throughout the state. “These future business leaders represented University of the Ozarks well,” said Dr. Scott Sheinfeld, assistant professor of business administration and marketing and the PBL faculty advisor. “All these students worked hard applying their classroom knowledge to real-world scenarios. The proud legacy of our involvement in Phi Beta Lambda lives on in this team. Congratulations to all our competitors.” For Ozarks, the team of Jasmine Williams, Juan Cano and Nicole Lopez won first place in the category of Business Sustainability and the team of Carlos Orosco, Yessenia Alvarez and Laura Gochez won first in Human Resources Management. The U of O team of Rodrigo Roldan and Henry Marin took first place in Global Analysis and Decision Making. The Ozarks team of Ralph Jean-Pierre, Spence Jean Baptiste and Richard Rodriguez finished second in Economic Analysis and Decision Making and the team of Rosendo Garcia and Yeimy Rodriguez took second in Business Decision Making. The U of O team of Katerinn Chamale, Falon Hanson and Marin finished second in Strategic Analysis and Decision Making. The duo of Yailin Blackman and Melissa Brenes took second in Business Sustainability, while Ozarks got individual second-place finishes from Rowan Westheimer in Social Media Challenge, Fernando de la Cruz in Statistical Analysis and Shanice Guzman in Justice Administration, Ozarks’ third-place finishers were, Falon Hanson in Public Speaking and Isaias Ortiz in Microeconomics. Guillermo “Will” Hernandez and Tanner Young finished fourth in Emerging Business Issues and Julio Molina took fourth in Cyber Security Desktop Publishing. de la Cruz finished fifth in Programming Concepts, while other fifth-place finishers for Ozarks included, Orosco in Job Interview, Gochez in Marketing Concepts, Hernandez in Management Concepts and Jean-Pierre in Macroeconomics. Guzman, the U of O chapter president, said she was proud of how her team competed in the state competition. "I believe that there is no word such as quitting, but with perseverance, now that takes you further in life. That's exactly what U of O's PBL team portrayed over the weekend,” Guzman said. “Not only did our team bring home several top finishes in various categories, they also worked hard to prepare. I know that they will keep working hard to hone these skills and knowledge as they prepare for their future careers. I am definitely proud of them.” Students in Dr. Deborah Sisson’s promotion strategies class received some real-world marketing experience during the Fall 2018 Semester by working on a project for Clarksville Light & Water (CLW). The 15 students in the upper-level marketing class split into three teams of five to develop throughout the semester a marketing and promotion strategy for CLW’s planned unveiling of new internet services through its fiber optic network. The three teams made their pitches to officials from the municipally owned utility company at the end of the semester and a winning team was announced during the week of finals. “We tried to make it as realistic as possible for them—from working with a real client that has specific needs, to collaborating as a team to come up with a plan, to making their pitch to the clients,” said Sisson, Baum Professor of Marketing. “I was very proud of the work they did and the effort they put into this project.” John Lester, general manager of CLW, said he was impressed with the marketing proposals and may implement some of the ideas. “I was a marketing major in college and some of the ideas were ones we hadn’t thought of and were quite good,” Lester said. “I heard a lot of good ideas and tidbits of information that we might be able to use. I love the idea that college students are engaged in the process of thinking about and working on real projects. It helps them get a sense of what it’s like to work on these projects and it gives us an opportunity to hear some new ideas and different perspectives.” The winning team of 360 Advertising was made up of Maria Corea, Dakota Ebarb, Ryan McNeill, Jamy Teni and Sam Todd. Using a motto of “Small Town, Big Speeds,” 360 Advertising’s objective was to “inform and foster brand awareness and persuade customers,” to switch to CLW internet services. “We had different students from all over the world and with different backgrounds in our group and I think our different experiences helped us come up with some unique ideas,” said Teni, a senior international business major from Guatemala. “It was a good mixture of knowledge and ideas.” McNeill, a senior strategic communication major from Rogers, Ark., said he enjoyed working on a project that had real-world implications and challenges. “This wasn’t hypothetical problems and solutions, these were real,” he said. “For example, we had to consider the demographics of Clarksville and how people get their information here. We couldn’t do an all-social media campaign, we needed to implement newspaper ads and flyers.” Some of the ideas that Lester especially like from 360 Advertising was having a city-wide “Fiber Day” to kick off the campaign and to use testimonials from residences who had made the switch to CLW internet services. “We were looking for a centerpiece to revolve everything around and Maria had the great idea of a Fiber Day,” said Ebarb, a senior business administration major from Nevada, Texas. “It was really exciting working on this proposal. You can read all about marketing concepts in books but it doesn’t compare with working for a real client.” There was an extra bonus for the project — a crisp new $100 bill for each member of the winning team, compliments of their professor. “This makes it extra sweet and will definitely help out with Christmas gifts,” Ebarb said. Denise Duarte is on a mission to help as many entrepreneurs in her home country of Nicaragua as she possibly can. After graduating from University of the Ozarks in 2008 with a perfect 4.0 GPA and with a triple major in accounting, marketing, and management, Duarte returned to Nicaragua to work as a financial auditor for a major company, while earning an MBA. But Duarte knew she wanted to use her skills and knowledge to uplift women in her country, so she began looking for a position that would allow her to do just that.