EPIC Spotlight: Rachel Dukes

Rachel Dukes had always heard that accounting is the language of business.

Living in the Dallas bedroom community of Grand Prairie, Rachel felt it was time to pursue the discipline at a university beyond the Texas border.

Arkansas immediately got her attention. Though she was not yet an Arkansas Razorbacks fan, the University of Arkansas’ school spirit was infectious. Her love for math veered her toward the accounting program at the Walton College.

As Rachel spent time on campus, everything felt right. “It just seemed like a good school with a very comforting environment,” she says.

The summer before her freshman school year, Rachel participated in the Business Leadership Academy, a residential program through the Walton College that creates an awareness of retail career choices and opportunities available to business majors. “BLA definitely set the foundation for my Walton College experience,” she says.

Rachel is making the most of the experience, too. She is the recipient the African-American Studies Scholarship, the Bridgestone-Firestone Scholarship, the Fred S. and Doreen D. Vorsanger Scholarship and the Pat and Gus Blass Endowed Scholarship.

“I feel like I’ve had a lot of opportunities to network and make connections throughout the course of my college career.”

She serves as president of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), where her duties include overseeing and organizing different events for the organization. She is also a member of Students of Retailing Excellence (STORE), which offers educational and networking programs for students interested in a retailing or marketing career. In addition, Rachel is involved with Leadership Walton, a program that combines leadership experience, academic learning and training in both professional and career development. She was a mentor to Freshman Business Connections students as well with the Connections program through the university’s Multicultural Center. Rachel has also been positively influenced by Barbara Lofton and her team through Walton College’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, where Lofton serves as director. “I feel like I’ve had a lot of opportunities to network and make connections throughout the course of my college career,” she says.

One of those opportunities came in the form of the “Shark Tank” Challenge in Arlington, Texas, which was part of the 2014 Alley Scholars Summit. Rachel was a member of a Walton College team that took third place for its online grocery service business model. Rachel served as the team’s accountant, where her challenge was finding ways to stick to the budget provided to her. Team members also created a 30-page business report and presented its plan to judges, which included Shawn Taylor, CEO of Zaxby’s restaurant, and Shama Kabani, CEO of Marketing Zen.

The summit also included panels composed of educators and entrepreneurs who shared their experiences and advice.

Away from class and competitions, Rachel works as an accounting intern for Tyson Foods Inc., where she runs reports, audits and works on different accounting projects for her team.

Rachel also has a double minor in Spanish and African and African-American Studies, both disciplines she hopes will help her business career.

As for where she sees herself after graduation, there’s still time to explore. “Right now, I’m trying to soak in everything about accounting so I can find my niche,” she says.