EPIC Spotlight: Kellen Utecht

“The Walton College and Clinton School together have helped make me realize I want to work in supply chain sustainability.”

He lives in Fayetteville. He also lives in Little Rock. To further complicate things, his fianceé lives in Turkey. As in the country Turkey.

Welcome to Kellen Utecht’s world.

For three or so days a week, Kellen is in Fayetteville, pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Then, it’s off to Little Rock, where he is also a student at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, working toward a master’s degree in – you guessed it – public service.
Kellen says he learned about the combined master’s program by “Googling” the words “MBA” and “public service.” On the second page of the results, he found a link to an article about Sarah Clark, the first student to complete concurrent master’s degrees in business administration and public service through a partnership between the Clinton School and the Walton College.

Kellen wanted to do that, too.

He contacted the Walton College, grabbed his father and made an 18-hour road trip from North Dakota to Fayetteville, where he toured the campus. The next day, they drove to Little Rock and met with people there.
“Then the two schools got to work, making this happen for me,” he says.

Born and raised in Underwood, N.D., (“about as far from the ocean as you can possibly be”) Kellen earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of North Dakota. After graduation, he spent two years as a business consultant.

“I loved it,” he says. “But I wanted more of a challenge and to serve.”

The Peace Corps was the obvious next step. He was assigned to Bulgaria, where he served for two years as a community and organizational development volunteer.

Then he enrolled at the University of Arkansas in January 2011. He did his summer internship with the Sustainability Consortium. In August, Kellen moved to Little Rock, where he enrolled at the Clinton School. He is currently interning at the headquarters of Heifer International, a hunger- and poverty-fighting charity that serves globally.
Kellen says the partnership between Walton College and the Clinton School has enabled him to learn from the many speakers they have brought in, including past presidents as well as leaders from the business world. He also enjoys that on one day he could be doing a SAP simulation and the next day discussing the decolonization of India.
“The Walton College and Clinton School together have helped make me realize I want to work in supply chain sustainability,” he says.

One way he might do this is through working with either a for-profit business or non-governmental organization in its sustainability efforts and communicating its progress to stakeholders.

“Most supply chains are international,” he says. “You have to be able to integrate and work with people of different cultures.”

He will continue his international studies this summer, when he travels to Turkey and does an internship with the World Wildlife Fund.

And get married.

He says he met his fianceé, Tugce, while backpacking in Turkey following his stint with the Peace Corps. She’s finishing law school while he completes his master’s degree. “Beyond that, I don’t know what will happen,” he says.
Yet, he says he knows his education here in Arkansas will help him with his pursuits.

“There’s so much good work to be done out there, and I want to be a part of it,” he says.