The Association of Future Alumni will celebrate 10 years in existence this year. Special events, including a 10-year reunion on Oct. 5, are still in the planning phases.
The AFA is an elite group of University of Central Arkansas students who have achieved at least 30 credit hours, maintained a 2.5 GPA and are selected during a rigorous process of applications and interviews.
“There can only be 35 members each year and they have to renew that membership every year,” said Haley Fowler, Assistant Alumni Director.
“I speak from experience, it is an honor to be chosen,” said Miranda Parks-Crabtree, a charter member of the group. “There is a process to joining in order to keep the group elite. They want the best of the best.”
Founded in 2003 by Jan Newcomer, Director of Alumni Services, AFA has continued its tradition of service and dedication during the decade since, incorporating programs and projects each year, including welcoming activities for incoming freshmen and assisting with graduation and alumni events.
“We want these bright young people to maintain a relationship with the university after they have graduated,” Fowler said. “We want them to be invested in the success of the university and the alumni groups.”
Fowler said former members of the AFA go on to join the Alumni Association and continue to build on the university’s traditions. Several of the former AFA members are on the UCA Alumni Association Board of Directors and Young Alumni Chapter board.
“AFA is very important,” Fowler said. “They are the voice of the students when it comes to the alumni.”
Fowler said she always looks forward to the AFA members’ return to campus, bringing with them their families, but also their accomplishments.
“I always love it when they return, and I get to catch up with them,” said Fowler.
During the first year of the AFA, Parks-Crabtree said the 10-member group helped with the alumni tailgate events by setting up tables and chairs, and helped hand out caps and gowns at graduation. Members also sold roses for families to give to their graduates.
Today, in addition to assisting freshmen and helping at graduation, the group hosts Mudstock, a day-long mud volleyball tournament; promotes and sells the UCA Official Ring; presents UCA tradition keepers and fight song shirts to freshmen; organizes the Homecoming parade, and participates at the Half-Century Club Brunch and the Alumni Homecoming Party. The group also participates in at least one community service project each semester. The group continues its tradition of Roses for Grads each year as well.
“We got to go to conferences all around the United States,” said Parks-Crabtree. “We were able to work with the Alumni Association and represent our school.”
Parks-Crabtree said she has many fond memories of her time in AFA but spending time with other like-minded students was most important.
She added that current and future members of the group should take their role seriously.
“You are representing yourself, the student body, the university and all alumni of UCA,” Parks-Crabtree said. “We’re counting on you to show others why UCA is the best university in Arkansas.”
Parks-Crabtree, who is now a Speech-Language Pathologist at Alma Middle School, also served as an advisor for AFA during her time in graduate school.
All former members of the AFA are invited to the upcoming reunion, said Fowler.
“We want as many members of AFA as we can get,” Fowler said. “I look forward to catching up with the AFA members and their families.”
For more information about the reunion or AFA, contact Haley Fowler or Jan Newcomer at (501) 450-3197 or visit uca.edu/alumni/afa.