Arkansas State University - Newport

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AR Career Coach

AR Career Coach

Arkansas Works Career Facilitator Program

Established in 2010, the Arkansas Works Career Facilitator Program extends career guidance services for students moving from high school into post-secondary education by helping them set and achieve realistic goals and develop the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed. Key aspects of the program are to:

  • Increase the number of students who enter and remain in post-secondary education.
  • Provide knowledge and participation in internships, apprenticeships, and exposure to all forms of post-secondary career training and certifications.
  • Improve the effectiveness of post-secondary and career information given to high school students and their families.
  • Provide high school students with information about career opportunities in Arkansas.
  • Encourage individuals to learn about, prepare for, and finance a post-secondary education.

The services of college and career facilitators are available to any Arkansas student, with special interest given to those youth and adults from low-income backgrounds. Career facilitators will identify these students while in high school and encourage them to go to college or be career-ready. To prepare Arkansas students to be college and career-ready the career facilitators address the following objectives:

  • Provide career guidance development to secondary students to assist them in preparing for high school graduation, post-secondary education, apprenticeship or workforce training, or positive direct placement into the workforce or military.
  • Adopt and promote the state goals for the quality career development of students from middle school through high school and beyond.
  • Assist or work in conjunction with high school guidance counselors and students in identifying and accessing career information and education and training opportunities to improve graduation rates, CTE program of study completion, non-traditional placement, and positive post-secondary placement, thereby decreasing college major changes and subsequent job dissatisfaction.


Meet the Arkansas Works Career Facilitator Team

Melissa "Missy" Clairday
School served: Brookland Schools

After graduating from Bryant High School, Missy Clairday went on to receive a bachelor's degree in psychology, with a minor in the interdisciplinary study of families, from Arkansas State University. It was in college that Missy decided she wanted to be able to work with youth to assist them in finding a career path they will love. In 2011, Missy started her Career Coach journey at Harrisburg School District and recently transitioned to Brookland School District in the summer or 2022. Missy's husband teaches and her son in Jr. high at Brookland School District. In 2016, Missy received an M.S. in College Student Personnel Services from Arkansas State University. As an Arkansas Works Career Coach since 2011, Missy is now achieving her dream while helping students achieve their dreams.

Whitney Loftin
School served: Tuckerman High School


After graduating from Newport High School, Whitney Loftin received a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, with a minor in Sociology from Arkansas State University. While attending ASU, she competed at the Southeast Journalism Conference, earning first place in the Journalism Research Paper category. In 2016 Whitney began working in Human Resources at Arkansas State University-Newport. During her time at ASUN, she saw first-hand the importance of post-secondary education and valued her time assisting others as they began their careers. After over 6 years in this role, Whitney is now using many of those same skills as a Career Coach to assist students at Tuckerman High School plan for their future.

Mary Williams
School served: Academies of Jonesboro

Mary Williams' journey began in her hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas. While  attending college classes at the University of Arkansas, Mary worked her way up from the file room of the Financial Aid Office to becoming a Financial Aid Officer. Seventeen years ago, Mary made a move to Arkansas State University to complete an undergraduate degree in social work. She returned to Fayetteville in 2005 and completed her Master's degree in social work in May 2006. Since 2010, Mary has been putting her education and experience to good use working as a Career Facilitator for the students at Lepanto High School, Marked Tree High School, and currently at Jonesboro High School. Mary has been able to witness some of her students graduate from college and become productive people in their communities. 

Natasha Baylor
School served:  Academies of Jonesboro

After graduating from Jonesboro High School in 2002, Natasha attended University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where she received her Bachelors in Sociology. While attending Uof A, Natasha was a Razorback Belle for the Razorback Athletic Department as well as a Student Ambassador for U of A. After graduation, Natasha returned to Jonesboro where she began working in her field of study in both Jonesboro and Nettleton School Districts. While assisting students, Natasha also fell in love with health and wellness and has been a fitness instructor since 2013. Natasha is so excited to work directly with students at Jonesboro High School and pour back into the school district that molded her.

Austin Copenhaver
School served: Academies of Jonesboro

After graduating from Jonesboro High School in 2009, Austin attended Arkansas State University to pursue a degree in Broadcast Journalism. During his time in college, Austin served as the Student Government Association Vice President, a member and officer of the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity and spent four years portraying A-State's mascot "Howl". In 2013, he began his professional career with East Arkansas Broadcasters as an administrative assistant and radio personality. Two years later Austin found himself back at Arkansas State University as an admissions counselor for schools in Craighead and Greene County. This position allowed him to segue into his current role as a College and Career Coach for Jonesboro Public Schools. Austin is glad to return to his alma mater to help prepare students for life after high school. 

Bobbie Buchanan
School served: Marked Tree Schools

Bobbie Buchanan is a lifelong Marked Tree resident. She received her GED from ASU-Newport in 2008. Upon completion of her GED, she enrolled in ASU-Newport to complete her Associates in Applied Science Degree, which she completed in 2010. While attending ASUN, in 2008, she gained a work-study position within the Department of Student Affairs and Financial Aid, becoming a permanent employee of the department in 2010. While working with students on the Marked Tree campus, gaining new skills along the way, she started her Bachelor's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, graduating in 2016. In 2016, after working for 8 years in the Department of Student Affairs, Ms. Bobbie was hired as a Career Coach for Marked Tree School District where she shares her diverse experiences with students, to help them plan their future career and college plans. In her spare time, you can find her at the football and basketball games on the Marked Tree High School campus or spending time with her children and grandchildren. 

Charnelsa "Charlie" Powell
Schools served:  Trumann Schools

After graduating from Corning High School, Charlie attended Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Math.  After graduation, Charlie continued her education by obtaining a Masters in Mathematics from Arkansas State University.  After obtaining her masters, she taught math at ASU, Harrisburg and Trumann.  While working at Harrisburg School District, she obtained her Specialist Degree in Secondary Principalship.   Charlie then went on to work in Hoxie School District and Piggott School District. She is so excited to work directly with students at Trumann School District and make a difference in students' lives. 

Rick Wood
Schools served:  Bradford Schools

Rick Wood is a lifelong resident of White County and graduated from Searcy High School.  He then attended ASU-Beebe, where he received two Associate degrees.  He then attended Arkansas Tech University and received his degree in agriculture business.  He then worked for four years for Darragh Company.  He returned to college at Harding University and completed his teaching certification.  He then went on to complete advanced work at both Harding and U.A.L.R.  He has been employed the past 29 years in public education, working for three different districts.  He has served as History/Science teacher, principal and superintendent.  He has served the past 14 years at the Bradford School District.  He is thrilled to be able to continue to work with this district in his new role as career coach.

Kristin Wallace
Schools Served: Harrisburg Schools

Kristin Wallace is a lifelong resident of Harrisburg and graduated from Harrisburg High School in 2010. She attended Arkansas State University and pursued a degree in Middle Level Education. During her time in college, she worked with the youth of the Harrisburg Middle School After School Program as an activity teacher and basketball coach. She graduated from ASU in 2015 and began her teaching career at the Harrisburg School District. Kristin taught math, science and business and also served as an instructional facilitator and test coordinator. She is excited for this new journey as a career coach and grateful to be able to serve the students in her hometown!


Paula Jones
School Served: Newport High School

Paula Jones is a lifelong resident of Jackson County.  After attending Tuckerman High School, Paula received her Associate of Arts in Teaching from ASU-Newport and then completed her Bachelor of Science in Mid-Level Education at ASTATE.  Paula then attended UCA to acquire her Master's of Science in Library Media which is how she started her career as a High School Librarian 10 years ago.  During her time as the Tuckerman High School Librarian, Paula would return to ASTATE and complete the ED.S in Principalship. Paula is passionate about helping students succeed as the Career Coach at Newport High School. You can find her helping students, running her food truck, or spending time with her family.