February 2004



Bringing personal stories to our campus.  I hope that you enjoy this section of The UAM Voice.  A lot of work has gone into making this section not only entertaining but informative.  Sharing new interests, insights, and accomplishments can help bring a diverse group of people closer through human experiences.    

Karon Parrish - Feature Editor

 Military | Wellness Fair | Debate Squad Ninth in Nation



From UAM to Iraq

 Karon Parrish

Since the war began in April 2003, more than 30 reservists from the UAM campus have been deployed to full-time duty.  Whether they are deployed to Iraq or to other stations across the globe, they are away from their families, jobs, and school.

Ms. Sharon Portis, UAM Veterans Affairs specialist, assists students with the many details associated with the paperwork, questions, and concerns of the reservists and their families.  “Students who are enrolled at UAM at the time they are deployed, must officially withdraw from school.” Portis stated.

UAM reassures the students that they will be readmitted upon their return from deployment.  Portis said, “Students are also given a scholarship for one semester if they return to school.”  This compensates for the semester they had to withdraw from.  However, if the student has to leave before the first day of class they are not entitled to the scholarship assistance.

Josh Lamb, UAM student, is currently in Fort Polk, Louisiana, where he is preparing to be deployed to Iraq in less than 30 days. His father, Jimmy Lamb, said, “Josh wants to go and is proud to serve.  He will be stationed in Iraq for about 18 months and says he will be returning to school. “

Several UAM students are currently training at stateside bases waiting until they are deployed to Iraq.  Two of those are brothers, Sam Wisner and Jordan Wisner. Their father, Bill Wisner, stated, “Sam and Jordan are both waiting to be sent to Iraq and we are very proud of them.  I’ll just be glad when they return and enroll back in school.”

Amanda Davis, UAM freshman, is concerned for her brother Ryan.  He is in the Army National Guard currently stationed in Iraq.  Ryan is 23 years old and at the time he was deployed to Iraq, he was a junior nursing major at UAM.  He and his wife are expecting their first child this summer.  He will not return until the child is around 18 months old. 

“It is really hard to deal with a loved one being away for so long and in danger.  I have been writing about my feelings in my English class and some of the other students have decided to write to my brother to let him know we are praying for him and all the other people serving,” Davis says.

For young people in the reserves today, being deployed to full-time status also means that they will have to take a leave from their employment.  Sgt. Brandon Lee, Arkansas National Guard recruiter stationed in Monticello, said, “We are very proud of all our reservists.  Many of those already in Iraq and those awaiting deployment have been taken from their homes, families, school and employment."

"They are eager to serve, and UAM is concerned and willing to help them.  We appreciate the support the students, faculty and administration have shown and especially helping these students with the free tuition for the semester they lose when they are called up.  Not all universities show this much concern for our military," Lee stated.

Sgt. Lee says, “Most of our reservists will not become rich.  But as a young, unmarried person who normally does not have very many obligations, the average income during full-time status is around $25,000.  This is not very much of course for someone making much more in their full-time employment but again the average reservist being deployed is between 18 and 25.”

Senior forestry major, Robert Nimmo has spent time preparing and serving during the War with Iraq.  As a sergeant in the Army Reserves, Nimmo recently returned from a nine-month deployment to Kuwait, which borders Iraq.  “I am so relieved and happy to be back home.  I missed my friends and family so much. People have no idea what it is like over there,” states Nimmo.

“There were many difficult issues to deal with but some of the hardest were the elements.  The heat was so tremendous reaching an average of 130 degrees during the day.  The sand was constantly in our face, hair, and eyes.  Sometimes it actually looked like a wall of sand coming at you during a storm.  Every part of your body had to be covered to prevent burns from simple gust of wind.  We were constantly drinking water to keep ourselves hydrated,” Nimmo said.

Nimmo’s main duty was to supply the different units coming in with whatever they may have needed.  He stated it was stressful at times dealing with different personalities in such close quarters.  “My unit was there before the war actually began and when the war broke out we were still there.  We just had to keep doing what we’re trained to do no matter what the situation was,” Nimmo said.

Nimmo had no problems getting his paperwork together to withdraw from school.  After he was deployed, his mother had to complete some of the paperwork for him. “With the help of the UAM officials, everything went very smooth,” he said.

There is an old saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.  Robert Nimmo makes his view on the War in Iraq clear.  “There is no greater sacrifice than to serve this country,” he says.

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Luevonda Ross to speak at UAM

 DaQuita Hardeman

Deputy Attorney General Luevonda Ross of the Arkansas Medicaid Fraud Unit will speak at a special event held Thursday, February 26, 2004, in the University Center’s Green Room. The Office of Student Affairs, who has invited all students, faculty and staff members to attend, is hosting the event.

Ross, a native of Monticello and a former attendant to UAM, graduated from Hendrix College where she co-founded the organization, Students for Black Culture. While in attendance, she received the Raney Hall Resident Award, was nominated for the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and she was one of the first ten students to participate in the Hendrix College Birkbeck Team at London University. She graduated from Hendrix in 1986.

She went on to complete law school at Temple University in 1991where she received her Jurist Doctor Degree. As an alumnus of Hendrix College, Ross accepted the Student for the Black Culture Alumnus of the year award in 1992.

After accepting the position as a staff attorney for Central Arkansas Career Services in Little Rock, Ross was appointed to serve as the first law clerk to Pulaski County Circuit Judge Morris W. Thompson. In 1993, Ross went to Philander Smith College where she was an adjunct professor in the Department of Political Sciences.

In 1996, Ross’ dream of opening her own law practice in Monticello became a reality. Since then she was appointed to serve as the Deputy Prosecutor in the 10th Judicial District and later the Deputy Prosecutor in the 11th District West.

After joining the Attorney General’s office in 2000 as an Assistant Attorney General in the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, she was appointed into the position that she holds today, Attorney General of the Medicaid Department in addition to the position that she holds as an adjunct professor in the trial program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s William H. Bowen’s School of Law.

Considering Ross’ hometown background, educational background and then career background, it’s safe to say that hard work does pay off and dreams really do come true.

Wellness Fair Coming to UAM

 Karon Parrish

UAM has announced the Annual Wellness Fair to be held Wednesday, March 10, 2004 at the John F. Gibson University Center from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  This event is free to students, staff, and faculty.

Each year the university provides free health screening, informative health related material and personal contact with local health officials for the campus.  There are scheduled events such as cholesterol testing; body fat mass index testing, eye exams, health brochures, and a variety of other health related issues are available during this time.

Terry Richardson, R.N. and UAM Wellness Fair Coordinator stated, “In previous years, we have been very fortunate to gain the cooperation of local and regional health care providers and other vendors who are willing to provide free health screenings and exams This year, we will again have
booths for cholesterol, blood pressure, vision, hearing, weight, body fat, grip strength, and blood sugar screenings, as well as informational booths about alcohol and drug use, diabetes, spiritual wellness, testicular cancer, second hand smoke, tutoring, flexibility, sexually transmitted diseases, pap smears, cervical cancer, and stress. There will also be games and activities such as the Fatal Vision Driving Course, relaxation techniques and a jump rope physical fitness test."

There are drawings around the clock during this event and students are encouraged to take advantage of all the information available.   Julie Gentry, UAM Wellness Fair Co-coordinator said, “We give away t-shirts, mugs, gift certificates, and many other prizes and hope that all the students will make an effort to stop by and see our setup.”

With very few events free anymore, it would be in everyone’s best interest to stop by the UAM Wellness Fair on Wednesday, March 10 at the UC Green room to pickup valuable health information.

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Debate Squad Ninth in Nation

Jessica Goodwin

Which UAM team has the best shot at a national title this year?  No, not the basketball team or the baseball team, the most likely answer is the “ninth in the nation” ranked debate and forensics team. Dean Ray states, “UAM itself, as well as its debate team may be Arkansas’ best kept secret.”

The program which began in 1970 has produced national, regional and state champions over the years.  According to Dean Ray, the director of forensics and also the dean of the Arts and Humanities Department, over the last ten to fifteen years the team has brought about one hundred awards per year.  The UAM debate team has traveled all over the country to national tournaments and they have even traveled to and debated in London and Scotland. 

The debate and forensics team is made up of about fourteen students, all of which have state and national titles.  Some of the most recent belong to Betty Dintelman, Will Whiting and Charlotte Keiffner.  Betty earned second place in persuasive and was ranked third speaker in debate.  Will came in third in extemporaneous speaking and second in informative. Charlotte was in sixth  place in programmed oral interpretation.

The team participates in several tournaments each year. Junior Brandi Morgan, a two year member of the debate team explains the different levels of competition.  “Those who are just starting out compete in the novice division.  This is the learning stage.  Next you move up to, and most people stay at, the varsity level.  This is the main level of competition.  Graduate students and or coaches have the opportunity to compete in the open division if they would like to.”

The team is dedicated and hard working.  Dean Ray and their coach, Scott Kuttenkuler, work with them to prepare for tournaments.  “Students practice rounds of debate, give individual speeches or practice their prose, poetry or interpretation events,” Dean Ray said.  Scott Kuttenkuler adds, “We also spend time discussing current events so our students will be well informed.  The students on our team must be devoted and have a strong work ethic.  Most everyone has the skills needed for debate, but we need people who work hard to develop those skills.”

Brandi became interested in debate her freshman year after judging debate tournaments for extra credit. “I was taking a class under Dr. Gary Marshall and he offered bonus points if we helped judge a tournament.  I had never had experience with debate, but after judging a couple of competitions I knew it was something I wanted to do even though I knew it would be hard work.”

A debate tournament lasts two to three days and one individual will debate six to eight times per tournament.  The students are expected not only to work hard for the team, but in their classes as well.  Dean Ray said, “We expect a lot out of our students.  If their grade point drops below a 2.0 they are ineligible whether it hurts our team or not.”

The debate team is not only concerned with their own competitions; they are busy hosting tournaments and being involved with a few high school debate tournaments.  They will be hosting the Big Oak Classic High School Speech Festival here on February 13 and they have been asked to do an exhibition for a high school tournament on March 27.

Dean Ray explains what makes this team so unique, “Most of these students are recruited right here on campus and have little or no prior debate knowledge or experience.  Some have worked with debate before, but most are new to this.  Watching these students develop their skills is rewarding.  We have had several students in our program who have become lawyers and some now who plan to go to law school.  Debate provides them the background and experience they need for such a career.”

The debate and forensics team have two organizations.  The Debate Society is a student led organization, and hosts a talent show each year for the student body.  The second organization, PI Kappa Delta is the National Honor Society of debate.  Some UAM students have held national leadership positions.  Dean Ray is currently the National Historian.

Overall what does one gain from the experience of being on the debate team?  Brandi sums it up well, “Debate helps us form an intelligent opinion on several topics.  We learn to see both sides of an issue and then make an informed decision.  Debate makes you much more confident.  I think everyone should take a debate class at some point.  It will just make you smarter.”

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