LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Entering its 35th year, the Donaghey Scholars program at UA Little Rock continues to push students towards excellence academically and socially. 

It’s hard to get accepted into the program and even more tough to excel but the reward and lessons students receive set them up for success. 

Dr. Simon Hawkins has been the director of the Donaghey Scholars program for 8 years. He says they want students who look to gain more out of their field of study.  “We want people who are ambitious and who want to go and do something and make a difference in the world,” said Hawkins. 

He says data gathering on the program’s alumni shows that 15% have Ph.D.’s, 10% are medical doctors and 10% are lawyers.

 The program offers a full-ride scholarship to students accepted.

Sophomore chemistry major, Joyce Childers is a part of the program and says at first, she didn’t think she would get in when advised by her high school to apply. 

“I saw everybody here and thought they were super smart,” she says. Grades are a factor for acceptance, but Childers says Donaghey mainly looks for students who think outside the box. 

The program has an innovative curriculum that replaces a general education course with its own set of demanding courses that students take twice a semester. Those courses are focused on research, discussions, projects and writing.

Childers says classes are difficult, but she feels like she’s learned more from the program than she has in other courses because they are discussion based.

Dr. Hawkins says this is the model of the program because “whatever you are going to do in life, you need to be able to gather information, come to some kind of conclusion about it and convince other people of your conclusions.” 

This goes for on campus, around the state, nation and world. 

The Donaghey Scholars Program requires students to study abroad, which is funded by UA Little Rock. 

“Students need to go out and engage with the world,” said Hawkins. 

Students typically finish the program by their 3rd year, but they still receive mentoring and guidance from the department even after finishing.

If interested, Dr. Hawkins wants you to know that you can do it. 

He says “we sometimes have students who were told by people in their lives you are not good enough for this, this is not for people like us. Yes, it is.  You can do this. Please apply.