College is a life-changing experience for many students. For 2015 freshman Matthew Evans, his life changed before he even went to his first college class. Evans is the 2015 Boyer Fellow in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. He was a superior student at Conway High and already headed for Fayetteville and the U of A when he was selected as a Boyer Fellow.
“Receiving this fellowship has already changed and will change my life in so many ways,” Evans said. “I have the ability to take this opportunity and create limitless possibilities for myself in the business realm. Some very generous people have put the ball in my court, and it’s my job to turn it into something incredible for myself and hopefully for those surrounding me.”
The Boyer Fellowship was established in 1999 by Tommy and Sylvia Boyer. To become a Boyer Fellow, a student must score 32 or higher on the ACT, demonstrate financial need and show the potential to be a leader. The Boyers recently increased the fellowship from $12,500 to $18,000 a year, making it the largest fellowship awarded on the University of Arkansas campus. The Boyer Fellowship is good for four years of study, which includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, travel and special equipment.
“I am incredibly honored to be the recipient of the Boyer Fellowship,” Evans said. “To be recognized as a student with so much potential in such a large school and to be rewarded for it is a dream come true. This gift will allow me unimaginable opportunities to expand my education at the university and in other parts of the world as I plan to study abroad.”
Evans was born and grew up in Conway, the son of Mark and Donna Evans. His older sister Molly is a fourth year architecture student at the University of Arkansas. While at Conway High, Matt played four years of varsity tennis. He also is a graduate of the Faulkner County Youth Leadership Institute and volunteered at and was a part of K-Life ministries. He sang in the Woodland Heights Baptist Church Youth Choir for six years and worked a couple of summers at Carolyn Lewis Elementary on the maintenance crew.
“I made my decision to come to the University of Arkansas after a visit,” Evans said. “The presentation and testimonies of students and professors made me realize the vast opportunities available through the Walton honors program.”
He will major in business. “But I am not sure what particular major I will be pursuing,” he said.
Since establishing the fellowship, alumni Tommy and Sylvia Boyer have continued to support and encourage outstanding students to pursue an education in the Walton College. The Boyers’ efforts continue to have an impact on Boyer Fellows even after they complete their degree.
“When we established the Boyer Fellowships, we had been involved with a variety of scholarships for some time,” the Boyers said. “We believe that a good education is the best vehicle we can provide to make a positive impact on people living in Arkansas. We decided to take that effort to a new level with the hope that the fellowships would attract students with the best minds and leadership skills to study at the University of Arkansas and upon graduation remain in the state. We believe that has been the case. In fact, these students have achieved so much more than we at first anticipated! We couldn’t be more impressed with their accomplishments and the work they have done.”
The fellowship also supports Thea Winston of Forrest City as a continuing Boyer Fellow. Previous fellows include Jonathan Benson of Fort Smith, Stacia Baughman of West Fork, Brinkley Cook-Campbell of Mount Judea, Joseph Rossetti of Fayetteville, Robert Ivers of Texarkana, Adrienne Jung of Van Buren, Tommy Vo of Fort Smith, Brandy Wells of West Fork, Chenin Vadalma of Hot Springs, Kimberly Wilkes of Fort Smith, Amanda Wyatt of Fort Smith and Sarah Wells of Arkadelphia.
Tommy Boyer, B.S.B.A. ’64, was inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame in 2013. He has served as chair of the Walton College Dean’s Executive Advisory Board, chair of the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame selection committee and was the college’s 2008 commencement speaker. Boyer was presiding co-chair of the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century from 2000-2002 and 2004-2005. Sylvia Boyer, B.S.E. ’63, was on the national board of directors for the Arkansas Alumni Association from 1988-1998, serving as its president in 1996-1997. She was the chair of the Alumni Association Campaign Committee from 1996-1998 and also served with her husband on the Campaign Steering Committee and as the vice chair of that committee’s College/School/Unit and Regional Subcommittee. She also has served as chair of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the College of Education.
In 1992, the University of Arkansas named the Boyers its volunteers of the year, and in 1999, the Arkansas Alumni Association honored the Boyers with the Andrew J. Lucas Distinguished Service Award.