EPIC Spotlight: Alice McMillan

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Alice McMillan is determined to make the most out of her time at the University of Arkansas. The Kansas City native is a junior in the Sam M. Walton College of Business and is pursuing a degree in marketing with a minor in Spanish. In addition to her studies, McMillan participates in several programs and organizations on campus.

A number of factors contributed to her decision to attend the University of Arkansas. “I was looking for an opportunity to get out of [Missouri]. I wanted to experience something that I hadn’t gotten the chance to experience before. This school is one of the most affordable and the best deal at the same time,” McMillan said. She received the Silas Hunt scholarship, which not only helps pay for tuition and fees, but also waives her out-of-state tuition. “Also, the culture down here was nice. It was really friendly and I liked the vibe I got when I came for a campus visit. It’s a big school; but at the same time, it’s very intimate. I like that,” she said. “I also knew how good the Walton College was. It’s ranked very high and is one of the top business schools, and that’s what I was really interested in.” McMillan said she shares many of the qualities that tend to define business majors. “It’s just how my brain works. I’m really competitive, innovative, and a perfectionist—a kind of type A personality, which is stereotypically what a lot of business students are,” she said.

The summer before McMillan’s freshman year, she had a municipal finance internship in Kansas City. “The biggest project was the city’s annual comprehensive financial report. I worked with the head financial officer. I also worked with some auditors and was responsible for clerical stuff.” She said the benefits of this experience were clear from the beginning. “It showed me what I could do with my degree and how some of the different majors can relate to one another. It also showed me a lot about how things work after college—basically, how adults operate.”

When she isn’t in class, McMillan is taking part in extracurricular activities. One of her favorite programs is the Spring International Conversation Partners Program. “I get to basically teach English to our international students and welcome them when they get here,” she said. “I’ve worked with people from Japan, Brazil, Korea and all kinds of different places. If they have a test or presentation, I’ll help them study or I’ll listen to them and help them with their presentation skills. My job also is to get them acclimated to the campus and America in general.”

She also mentors new business students through the Freshmen Business Connections program. “Every FBC teacher has a student assistant and my job is to facilitate discussion for them. We talk about issues that freshmen face and also how to be successful in the business school. I helped with advising and was also responsible for planning FBC’s social functions for the year,” she said.

As a Connections mentor, McMillan helps underrepresented or minority students understand and deal with the issues they face that may not have been addressed at new student orientation.

McMillan is a Silas Hunt mentor and member of the National Association of Black Accountants. She also participates in the Center for Retailing Excellence mentoring program and is mentored by Saatchi and Saatchi X. She was chosen to take part in the Razorback Sports Marketing Internship Program in summer 2010 and the 2010-2011 school year. She will also begin working with SAKE in the fall and said she is really looking forward to the experience.

McMillan’s activities are not contained to the University of Arkansas campus. In fact, some of them take place thousands of miles from Fayetteville. In 2009, McMillan attended the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama with a select group of students; and, in summer 2010, she will be travelling to Africa on the African American Studies department’s inaugural trip to Ghana. “I chose this program because [professors] approached me about it and told me they wanted me to come and be in it. Also, it’s my motherland. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go where you originated from. I had several trips I was choosing from, like Italy and Mexico, but I figured I would have an easier time getting back to those places than getting to Africa.” McMillan said she is very excited for this travel opportunity.

She’s enjoying the present, but she’s still making plans for the future. If McMillan could have her dream job, she would work in international marketing. “I know it’ll take me a while to get to it, but I’d like to do product development and market research in another country. I’d like to utilize my Spanish [minor] somewhere like Costa Rica or Guatemala and do research or have a product there.”

McMillan said more education is likely in her future. “I think I want to go to graduate school-maybe stay at the Walton College for a fifth year and get my MBA, and then go out and look for a job.”