Even before Kayley Corley had chosen to attend the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, it felt like home to her.
“I grew up in a small town that was close to the university, and I had already been on campus several time for various activities,” Corley said. “I knew UAFS was not only committed to educating its students but also dedicated to the surrounding community. That was really important to me.”
After graduating from Booneville High School, she chose to major in political science at UAFS, having fallen in love with policymaking as a child. After school each day, she would spend hours at her grandparents’ house, consuming news and discussing it with them.
“Every day I was encouraged to find and use my political voice. My grandparents emphasized that every citizen was required to be a part-time politician in order for democracy to be efficient,” Corley said.
At UAFS, Corley has continued to find and hone that political voice through serving on the Student Government Association and university’s chapter of the American Democracy Project. Through the latter, Corley represented the university in Up to Us, a nationwide competition between college campuses to raise awareness of the national debt.
As part of the competition, she traveled to the University of Miami and the University of California, Berkeley to represent UAFS.
“I found my sense of home through the Student Government Association and the American Democracy Project,” Corley said. “The Student Government Association bridges the gap between what issues students see as important and the goals and visions of the administration, which is important. The American Democracy Project serves not only students, but also the community of Fort Smith. I really found my niche in those places here on campus.”
Also key to her development as a student was her participation in the Chancellor’s Leadership Council, a prestigious scholarship on campus that includes a freshman course taught by Chancellor Paul B. Beran.
“Applying for the Chancellor’s Leadership Council scholarship was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” Corley said. “Dr. Beran wanted us as freshman to decide who we were apart from our parents, friends, and family. He wanted us to start the process of becoming. His class also taught me how to be leader in the best sense. Dr. Beran’s class and mentorship was life changing.”
After graduating this spring, Corley will pursue a master’s degree in public service and administration from the Bush School of Public Service at Texas A&M, a program she said she was well-prepared for by the education and mentoring she received at UAFS.
“People know me here. My professors know who I am, my fellow students know who I am. I have never once felt like I was lost in the shuffle here,” she said. “Helping me graduate has always felt like it was a top priority for everyone here. I don’t feel like I am just a student. I am a friend. I am a colleague. I am valued. This university has allowed me to do more with my education, because it has made me feel like I am more.”
For more information about educational opportunities at UAFS, visit www.uafs.edu or call 479-788-7000.