Each year, the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana honors an outstanding staff member of the year. UAHT is proud to announce that this year’s winner is Mikki Curtis. Curtis serves as the Dean of Secondary programs at the college, where she oversees the Hope and Arkansas High Collegiate Academies and the Secondary Career and Technical Education Center.
Many people may not know, but Mrs. Curtis began donating her time to help the college establish the Hope Collegiate Academy two months before starting her new position at the college. That shows how much she wanted to provide this unique opportunity for Hope area students. She played an instrumental role in the college’s partnership with Hope Public School District to create the academy. Since then, she has spearheaded the establishment of the Arkansas High School Collegiate Academy. The academy provides a diverse group of students with the opportunity to earn their college degrees while still in high school and is the first program of its kind in the region and the State of Arkansas.
The collegiate academies have brought recognition to the college by drawing statewide and national attention to UAHT. Several other colleges and high schools have visited the academy and worked with Mrs. Curtis to model their own programs after UAHT’s. The academy was also recognized as a top 10 finalist for the coveted Bellwether Consortium Awards this year. The academy was one of only ten across the country to be nominated in the instructional programs and services category and the only program in Arkansas to be selected.
Curtis works tirelessly and goes above and beyond to help her students succeed. Many of these students are not used to the rigor of college work when they arrive at the academy. In light of that, Mrs. Curtis has often used her own personal time to work with students one-on-one. She also takes time to advise and simply talk to her students about their future educational or life goals. She has spent many hours outside of regular work hours helping her students and their parents talk to other colleges about transfer opportunities and helping them fill out college transfer and scholarship applications. At UAHT, we say we are student-focused. Well, Mrs. Curtis is the epitome of that with her students. She has cried with her students, shed tears for her students, prays for her students, and helped them with just about everything you can imagine. She does whatever she possibly can to help them succeed in school and life.
She also directs the new secondary career center on the UAHT campuses. She worked hard to help ensure the career center’s successful transition from Arkansas High School to the college. The career center requires her to work closely with our service area high schools. She has developed strong relationships with the superintendents, principals, and counselors at these schools. The career center helps students develop in-demand job skills while still in high school. Many of these students will graduate with degrees and certificates that make them workforce-ready. This program helps ensure a better future for these students and an enhanced workforce for our entire region. Mrs. Curtis works diligently to provide our service area students with this opportunity.
Not only does Mrs. Curtis work hard to make her programs as successful as possible, but she also volunteers to help in other areas on campus. Anytime the college needs volunteers for events, she is there to help. She is an exceptional team player. She is a joy to work with and sincerely cares about the success of the college. She believes UAHT is a place that can help better the lives of all people in our communities and works hard to ensure we do just that.
Someone once said, “There is a difference between someone who has only the education of a leader and someone who has the education and rapport of a leader.” According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, rapport is defined as a friendly, harmonious relationship, especially a relationship characterized by agreement, mutual understanding, or empathy that makes communication possible or easy. Mrs. Curtis has a way of leading with grace. She makes communication possible and easy. She demonstrates the perfect balance of holding students to a high standard of responsibility while also being kind and caring.
Please join the UAHT family in thanking Mikki Curtis for her dedication to serving students at the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana.