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Walton College of Business Scholarship Reaches Out to ‘Underrepresented’

2 min read

Among the items on his to-do list as dean, Matt Waller said, is ensuring the success of the Fleischer Scholars Program, a scholarship program that seeks to draw students from “underrepresented” parts of Arkansas to the Walton College of Business.

Those underrepresented parts include eastern, southern and central Arkansas, almost all of the state except northwest Arkansas.

“It’s a method of reaching out to students who are qualified, capable, maybe even ambitious, but they don’t understand the opportunities that majoring in business would provide them,” he said.

The university recruits rising high school seniors from these areas to a “bridge program,” in which they spend one week at the Walton College where they meet faculty, staff and business executives and participate in projects.

“The purpose of it is to show them, one, we want them here in the Walton College; two, they can succeed.” Potential success is demonstrated when the students meet upperclassmen who are doing well.

The Walton College participated in the program for the first time last summer, and of the 37 students taking part, at least 17 will be at the university in the fall.

That summer aspect of the program helps students make it to the university; a new element seeks to help them graduate. That new element is a $10,000 annual scholarship for four years plus paying summer internships.

Waller said the program is working with the banking industry to provide internships. “The hope is not only would they graduate, but also they would work back in their community, hopefully in that bank in a management position.”

So far, Signature Bank of Arkansas has committed to funding three of these scholarships, and Bank of England has committed to two. Waller said the college would be reaching out to another 30 banks in the next few months.

The program serves as a way for banks to develop talent, but they also receive federal Community Reinvestment Act credit for participation.

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