Spotlights

Daniel Peek
Thirty minutes into his first day as a bank teller, as Daniel Peek helped his first customer, the front doors flew open and in ran a masked man. “It looked like he was holding a camera at first, but then I realized it was a gun covered up with a bag,” the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith junior criminal justice major said. When the armed man pushed Peek’s customer up against the wall, Peek realized it was not a drill. It was a robbery.   The man ran to the counter and pulled up his white ski mask, revealing his face to Peek and the security cameras. “Give me $5,000 in one dollar bills,” the man yelled at Peek. Peek grabbed all of the moneyin his drawer, including some bait money, which can be traced in the event of a robbery, and put it in a burlap sack. Though it didn’t have $5,000 in one dollar bills, Peek handed the bag to the man, who ran out the front door and around to the back of the building, disappearing into an alley.
Marissa Moore
At age five, Marissa Moore decided that she was going to be just like her uncle as she watched him clean teeth. UAFS brings Moore a step closer to her goal, as it is one of the only schools in the area to offer a degree in dental hygiene.  “I’ve known what I wanted to do since I was five. I haven’t changed my mind once,” Moore said. And when Moore has a goal in her sights, she cannot be stopped. That resolve was one of the reasons she was selected as the first recipient of the $1,000 UAFS Alumni Legacy Scholarship.  “She has an incredible drive, ambition and determination. She will go far,” said Alumni Affairs Director Rick Goins. The Alumni Advisory Council established the scholarship as an opportunity for family members of alumni to attend the university. The scholarship has been set up to assist a child, parent, spouse or sibling of a UAFS graduate or a former student who passed 14 credit hours from Fort Smith Junior College, Westark Junior College, Westark Community College or Westark College. When looking for a university to attend, Moore, who grew up on a cattle ranch in Mulberry, chose UAFS.
Lela Nickell
Lela Nickell, ’84, sat back in her seat at the Stubblefield Center with tears streaming down her face. “I didn’t realize how much I wanted it until then,” she said. As she watched the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith students cross the stage and graduate, Nickell knew she wanted her bachelor’s degree. She told her husband that watching them made her want to go back to school. He reminded her that she couldn’t quit her job.
Leanna Zimmerman
Leanna Zimmerman, ’15, planned to start her job hunt closer to graduation in May, but an ordinary day of waitressing gave her a head start. Zimmerman worked for three and a half years as a waitress at Chili’s while studying marketing at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. She went to work that November day that seemed like any other when she served a table that would start her professional career.
Angie Stout
Angie Stout, ’15, stood outside a science lab listening to an 18-year-old student admit to being nervous as she hadn’t had the class since a sophomore in high school. “It had been over 20 years since I’d had science,” said Stout with a laugh. But she didn’t doubt herself.  She knew she could learn. “I’ve always loved to read and there’s a lot of learning in reading,” Stout said. She made it past the science class and on May 9, she graduated cum laude, earning with a bachelor’s degree in English with teacher licensure. Her third attempt at college proved the charm. After graduating from Cedarville High School in 1985, she enrolled at Westark Community College. During the day, she worked full time at a factory and tried to take classes at night toward her business major. She quit school.