A Time to Mentor: UCA Leader Earnestly Connects to Students

As the University of Central Arkansas assistant vice president of student affairs, Wendy Holbrook ’87, ’89 is intentional about making sure she has meaningful interactions with the students. She is interested in hearing their concerns and ensuring they have everything they need on their collegiate journey. 

“That’s the best part of the job,” Holbrook says. “I really encourage them to seek out opportunities. Like my grandmother used to say, ‘a closed mouth does not get fed.’ So if you need something, if you’re missing something, if you have a question, ask someone. There are 1000 of us who work here. And our job is to make sure that our students have everything they need.”

Holbrook, who holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology, has had various jobs since she returned to the campus as an employee in 1998. With each promotion, she made sure to keep connecting with students even when it was not a natural part of her job. Holbrook has been an adviser for many organizations, including the UCA Student Government Association, the Minority Mentorship Program, Students for the Propagation of Black Culture and the National Pan-Hellenic Council. Today she advises the Green Bear Coalition and works closely with the Bear Essentials Food Pantry. 

When meeting and mentoring Black students, Holbrook likes to reinforce support and validation by connecting the students to Black people doing what they aspire to do. 

“It’s important to me that I direct them to people who look like them,” Holbrook said. “They need to see the success, and they need to see the people doing the things that they want to do. It’s hard for us to be something that we’ve never seen or can’t imagine. And I tell students whenever they reach that pinnacle to…throw the ladder back down.” 

Holbrook believes that members of the Black community have a social debt to their ancestors who paved the way before them.  

“We don’t have the luxury of sitting still and ignoring the generations behind us. There are still too many systemic barriers. Use your position and influence to make positive changes and clear the path for others to succeed,” she said.