As alumni, Natalie and Ryan Biles of Lonoke strive to lead with humility and a joy to give back to the University of Arkansas that poured so much into them. As recent graduate members of the Arkansas Alumni Association, they have ventured to take on exciting new leadership roles at the University of Arkansas through their involvement in the Young Alumni Board. The couple hopes to encourage fellow grads to find creative ways to stay in touch with their alma mater.
In remembering how they came to the University of Arkansas, it was the now Fay Jones School of Architecture that drew both Natalie and Ryan to campus. Natalie said, “once I started visiting campus I really couldn’t picture myself going anywhere else. I loved the feel of campus, the history and tradition of the school.”
In addition, the Bileses give credit to the University for bringing them together. Ryan and Natalie started dating the summer after their freshman year. Ryan remembers, “it’s hard to forget all of the football, walks across campus and occasional snowstorms that you shared with your college sweetheart! There really is no place like the campus in Fayetteville.”
Natalie, graduating in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in interior design, pursued her professional licensure and has begun her own interior design practice known as Natalie Biles Interior Design in Lonoke. While Ryan, graduating in 2003 with a bachelors of architecture, has continued to work with a unique architecture firm known as SCM Architects P.A. in Little Rock since he interned with them following his freshman year. “I am thankful to have celebrated nine years this past May,” Ryan said.
It is evident that Ryan and Natalie cherished their time on campus. As Natalie got involved in American Society of Interior Designers and served as the president of Phi Upsilon Omicron her senior year, Ryan took on projects working closely with the redesign of Old Main. These were very pivotal moments for them and in looking back helps to remind them of why they chose to attend the University. Their campus experiences taught them “to be better ambassadors for the University to those students who are currently making their college enrollment decisions.”
When asked what advice they would give to fellow alumni about leadership, the Bileses said, “real position is not dependent on position or title; very simply, if we learn to lead humbly from the middle of our organization, we can influence those above us and those behind us and subsequently advance our professions as a whole.”
Ryan and Natalie Biles are examples of great leadership and they give credit back to the University that gave them valuable experience in their fields and degrees from the school of architecture, a school “well known for its depth and strength both in faculty and students.”