At 25 years old, Tina Fletcher has an impressive list of educational and professional accomplishments. From studying abroad and receiving a bachelor’s and master’s degree to interning with Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s office and working as an intern with the first lady Michelle Obama’s office, Fletcher is humbled by the experiences and opportunities she has been given at such a young age.
Before graduating from Morrilton High School, Fletcher was unsure if she would be able to attend college within the state. However, her uncertainty was quickly remedied when in 2004; she was awarded the Silas Hunt Distinguished Scholarship. “My high school counselor told me I should apply for it, so I did and I got it,” she said. Once becoming a student, Fletcher knew her opportunities were endless. Looking back, she credits the scholarship for allowing her to experience what the university had to offer, saying that “the Silas Hunt Scholarship changed my life.”
Aside from attending Rock Camp, being a Resident Assistant, volunteering as an orientation leader, and in her junior year, serving as president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Fletcher devoted much of her time to her studies and making a difference. Receiving a bachelor’s degree in political science and African American studies, she gives praise to those who encouraged her, including Dr. Charles Robinson, Dr. Calvin White and Dr. Janine Parry. “Dr. Robinson made me want to learn so much more and encouraged me to study abroad in Africa,” she said. Her time spent in Tanzania allowed her to learn much about the “outside world,” saying, “I have an appreciation for so much. We went into the bush and saw very poor people; the images you see on TV, you can’t take it at face value.” Reflecting on her time spent abroad, she realizes the importance of those who provided guidance and pushed her to take chances. “My life will never be the same and what I do is because of what I learned from these professors. I am the person I am today because of my experiences,” she stated.
These experiences also included working with the Congressional Black Caucus—an opportunity she decided to pursue after meeting fellow classmate, the late April Love. “She inspired me to pledge AKA and because of her experience with the Congressional Black Caucus, she made me want to get involved,” she said. In her last semester, Fletcher applied and was offered an internship in Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s office on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus. Her duties included compiling news clips of Senator Lincoln, leading tours of the Capitol, going to committee hearings and talking to those who expressed their concerns on various issues. The experience that she gained by interning with Sen. Lincoln helped to prepare her for a future internship with the first lady Michelle Obama’s office.
After graduation, Fletcher went on to receive a master’s degree in education at Harvard University. With her educational and professional background, she moved to Washington, D.C. and now works as a teacher at Anacostia High School, where she teaches U.S. history and government. “While I was at the U of A, I knew I wanted to teach high school,” she said. Believing that high school students need a strong support system when faced with the decision of higher education, Fletcher shares her experiences and stresses the importance of personal achievement. “I remind them that there is a world outside of what they know and that no one can stop you from achieving something but yourself,” she said.
Heeding her own advice, Fletcher applied for an internship with the first lady Michelle Obama’s office and was accepted in July 2010. Taking a sabbatical from work, she interned with the first lady’s correspondence office, where she helped with coordinating events, scheduling requests and mail for the “Let’s Move” campaign. One of the highlights of her internship was getting to see Obama interact with kids and students. “I watched her read to children and within the past year, a White House mentoring program was started and 20 girls (from Anacostia High School) were able to participate and mingle with the first lady,” she recalled.
With her internship ending in December 2010, Fletcher returned to teaching and to her students. Having learned from her experience with the first lady that you must understand your limits and take time to relax, Fletcher believes that giving back is one of the most important lessons the first lady teaches, and something that she hopes to do more of as a member of Arkansas Alumni Association.
“Ms. Angela Monts really helped me to realize why it was so important to get involved,” she said. Although she stays busy with work and her students, Fletcher, an annual member, appreciates what the association stands for what it provides to its members. “The Alumni Association has been so good to me. I love the idea of being connected because it is nice to know which people are in the D.C. area,” she said in regards to the Association’s Washington, D.C. Chapter. One thing that she hopes to become more involved with is the Black Alumni Society Reunion, which is a week-long event that includes award ceremonies, networking opportunities, party and game nights, and gospel concerts for alumni and their family and friends.
When asked what her advice to future alumni would be, she answered without hesitation. “Get as involved with the Arkansas Alumni Association as possible. Reach out to undergraduates, whether it is financially or socially, and show them support. Stay involved because the university depends on alumni to lay the foundation for future generations.”