By Benjamin Bosler, Alumni Communications Intern

As COVID-19 offsets traditional university plans, one U of A student is using this time as an opportunity to make changes.

Jaclyn Walls, Student Alumni Association president, said she is eager to begin working on events for SAA but feels the inevitable challenges presented by COVID-19.

Walls said that though there is a lot unknown about future events, such as the U of A’s traditional homecoming and ring ceremony, she is using this moment to make changes she feels are necessary not only to SAA but for the entire U of A community.

“We went from a board of 64 members to a board of 32,” Walls said, “so just trying to bring back connection to the board, where instead of walking into a room and seeing a bunch of strangers or maybe a couple of people you recognize, having a close-knit community that can uplift each other.”

Walls said before her time with SAA she wasn’t involved in a single RSO on campus, causing a separation between her and the university. She spent her first two semesters putting her focus toward her industrial engineering major, as well as her accounting minor.

After her freshman year when she didn’t feel quite comfortable in Fayetteville, Walls said she felt it was time to get involved. She joined the Tri Delta sorority and it was there that someone recommended SAA and introduced her to the many traditions the U of A offers.

Following that recommendation, Walls said she immediately picked up an application to begin her journey with the Alumni Association.

Walls said her first title with SAA was senior awards coordinator, and, unbeknownst to her, was a big job to fulfill.
“Everyone was like, ‘That’s kind of a big deal Jaclyn, how’d you get that?’” Walls said, “I was like, ‘It is? What did I sign myself up for?’”

Eager to begin working on senior awards, Walls said one of the first things she noticed was that the pool of applicants was not as diverse as she had assumed it to be.

Walls said when she noticed this, she began hosting information sessions about senior awards, all in hopes to diversify the applicants.

Having success within the senior awards, Walls said she now feels it is her duty as SAA president to implement that same mission to the entire association, providing a more inclusive and caring system.

For upcoming SAA board members, Walls said she wants to provide them with a message of openness and let them know that they can depend on each other.

“I think all of campus is going to be shifting toward a more inclusive environment,” Walls said, “just making sure each individual feel like they are part of our community.”

Walls said she thinks it’s important now more than ever to check on those close to you, whether it’s a work or personal relationship.

Living in the current climate we are, Walls said it’s easy to feel claustrophobic and stressed but she wants to ensure that her SAA board members and the U of A community are feeling as comfortable as possible.

“I think it’s going to be really important to make sure that everyone has a friend,” Walls said, “and I want Student Alumni Association to be that friend.”