Dr. Josetta E. Wilkins served four terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives, serving portions of Jefferson County. She served on the House Education Committee, Aging, Children Youth and Families, Legislative and Military Affairs, the Joint Performance Review Committee and the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee. Her service was terminated due to term limits. She is presently a member of several state commissions and local and state committees.
Dr. Josetta E. Wilkins prefers to be known for her most important work as an educator for over forty-years teaching and counseling at every level from elementary through college. Her most important role has been as a mother, grandmother and mentor.
Dr. Wilkins was the author and lead sponsor of numerous pieces of legislation that was signed into law, however, she is proudest of the creation of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Commission of 1993, the Character Bill and the life-saving legislation that became the Arkansas Breast Cancer (Originated in 1995) Act of 1997, which has provided over $71 million dollars for education, mammography, diagnosis, treatment and research of breast cancer for Arkansas women. The research is conducted at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Center (UAMS). Also, she was the lead sponsor of the UAPB Stadium Bill, which provided $3 million dollars for the new football stadium.
Born in North Little Rock and raised on a farm in Jefferson County, Dr. Wilkins graduated from Merrill High School; earned her bachelor’s degree in education and social science from Arkansas AM&N (UAPB); earned her master’s degree in counseling and guidance from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and her doctorate degree in higher educational administration and adult education from Oklahoma State University. She has studied at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri.
Dr. Wilkins is a retired professor of education at UAPB; a former elementary, secondary school teacher, counselor, and administrator and holds a license to practice counseling. She has worked as a rehabilitation counselor and as an education counselor at the secondary and collegiate levels. She has served in numerous other positions, including; Deputy Director of an Arkansas Manpower Program, Director of Cooperative Education, Director of University Relations and Development at UAPB and the Cluster Chairperson. She has served as a consultant to the United States Department of Education, National Commission of Cooperative Education and several Universities and Colleges throughout the United States, and on numerous boards, commissions and committees at the local, state and national level.
Dr. Wilkins is the recipient of many local, state and national honors and awards. She was a recipient of the “The Making of the King Holiday Award” given by the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday Commission in Washington, D.C., and the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr., Commission – Josetta Wilkins Courage Award which is given annually to honor and recognize individuals and organizations that have dedicated their lives to helping those less fortunate.
Dr. Wilkins also received the “Local Hero Award” given annually by the Arkansas Chapter of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the “Keepers of the Spirit” award and inclusion in the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s Hall of Fame. The Arkansas Breast Cancer Control Advisory Board established The Josetta Wilkins Award. The first award was given to Dr. Wilkins and now she presents the award annually to an individual and an organization that has made outstanding contributions in the area of breast cancer awareness. Dr. Wilkins is a member of
the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS/Arkansas Cancer Research Center) board of directors.
Dr. Wilkins was honored on April 10, 2001, as a recipient of The National Humanitarian Award. This award is given by the National Conference for Community and Justice recognizing people who, by their personal involvement and leadership, have promoted the ideals of a just and fair society. She was also recently selected and featured on Mother’s Day in the High Profile section of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette May 2001. Additionally, Appreciation Awards and The Governor’s Volunteer Excellence Award were given in March 2001, for ongoing community service as a volunteer in Health and Wellness Seminars.
Dr. Wilkins was honored by the National Governor’s Association in June 2002, with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Community Service, presented by the President of the National Governor’s Association and Governor Mike Huckabee. She was honored in July 2003 by the American Cancer Society at their annual Legends Ball to receive their Advocacy Award for her work to help the underserved get medical testing and treatment for Breast Cancer.
The Dr. Josetta E. Wilkins Chair was established on August 20, 2003 at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences – Arkansas Cancer Research Center for the millions of dollars and her work in the area of Breast Cancer dedicated to help save the lives of the women of Arkansas. She is the first African-American to receive this honor at UAMS. January 2009 she was honored with a Life Membership to the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Foundation Board (previous named ACRC.)
In December of 2004, Dr. Wilkins was honored by her sorority Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., for Outstanding Leadership and Service in Women’s Health.
Dr. Wilkins is an active member of St. James United Methodist Church. She has five children and fourteen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She continues her work as a strong active advocate for breast cancer awareness. She established a breast cancer support group, “Caring-Bosom Friends” and conducts seminars, speaks to churches and women’s groups. She counsels via telephone or visits, advising women who are struggling with the diagnosis of breast cancer.