Arkansas State University - Newport

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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

Ashton Simmons
School Served: Newport High School

Upon graduation from Newport High School in 2013, Ashton went on to Williams Baptist University, and graduated in December 2017 from Arkansas State University with her Bachelor's degree in General Studies with an emphasis in Health Sciences, Social Sciences, and Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management. Ashton is thankful to have the opportunity to make a difference at her Alma Mater. Beginning Spring 2020 she will be starting her Master's program. 

Melissa "Missy" Clairday
School Served: Harrisburg High School

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 and encourage them to attend a post-secondary school and find a career they would love. In 2011, 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 the students of Harrisburg High School achieve their dreams. 

Michael Smith
School Served: Tuckerman High Schoo

Michael Smith may have never imagined where his education would lead, but his diverse experience has given him a unique perspective when working with high school students. An alumnus of Tuckerman High School, Michael first received an Associate of Arts degree at ASU-Newport and then went on to complete a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism from Arkansas State University. While in college, he served as the ASUN Student Government Association Vice President and President and was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, as well as the Undergraduate Research Association of Arkansas State University. After working as a programmer/producer for KNBY-KOKR­ Newport, Michael has returned to his alma mater to prepare other students for their college careers. 

Mary Williams
School Served: Jonesboro High School

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 “Natasha” Baylor
School Served:  Jonesboro High School

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: Jonesboro High School

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.