By Angelita Faller
After just three years at UA Little Rock, Landon DeKay, of Maumelle, has completed his studies one year ahead of schedule and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science in May.
“I feel like I just started school, but I’ve loved my time at UA Little Rock,” DeKay said. “Initially, I was not set in stone in going to UA Little Rock. I initially wanted to attend a larger university. After studying abroad and doing research with professors and being involved in all the student organizations, I’ve really learned to love UA Little Rock and all that it offers its students. I’m sad to be leaving, but I’m looking forward to the new adventures I will have in law school.”
This fall, DeKay will attend Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia.
“I am planning on concentrating my studies on national security law,” he said. “Throughout my undergraduate tenure, I focused much of my studies on foreign policy and the Middle East. I have also been involved with the Middle Eastern Studies Program at UA Little Rock and have competed in numerous Model Arab League competitions in the U.S. and in Morocco. I have grown to love studying the implications to our national security following 9/11 and the rise of domestic terror groups here in the United States. To me, national security is one of the most interesting areas to study, and that is why I want to continue learning about how we can better protect our security interests while in law school.”
As president of the Student Government Association, DeKay is best known around campus for his work advocating on the behalf of students.
“I’ve loved being involved in the SGA and seeing the work I’ve done with different senators come to fruition,” DeKay said. “After the mass protests after the killing of George Floyd, I worked with SGA to advocate for the creation of the Racial Barriers Committee to look at current university policies and procedures that might disproportionately impact students of color at UA Little Rock. I hope that SGA has inspired positive change at UA Little Rock.”
DeKay’s time as president also included a global pandemic that left most students taking classes from home and some facing emergencies on an unprecedented level.
“I knew coming into the school year that my term as president would be impacted by Covid-19, but I didn’t realize how impacted it would be until I experienced it firsthand,” he said. “I met with the leaders on campus to see how Covid-19 impacted our students. I also served on numerous university committees to see how we could help students negatively impacted by Covid-19, like delivering computers for students who needed technology to take classes online.”
Since there were few on-campus events during the 2020-21 school year, DeKay said the SGA spent much of its time revising the constitution and donating portions of the SGA budget to student groups on campus who needed funds for projects or events.
“It’s essentially been a year of rebuilding SGA,” DeKay said. “We made 11 different changes to our constitution. I hope the next president will see SGA grow exponentially.”
In addition to his work with the SGA, DeKay counts conducting research with the Little Rock Congregations Study, a 2020 summer internship with U.S. Rep. French Hill’s office, and a 2019 trip to the International Model Arab League Conference in Morocco among his most memorable college experiences at UA Little Rock.
“I would definitely say my trip to Morocco has been one of my most influential parts of going to UA Little Rock,” he said. “It was partially funded by the Middle Eastern Studies Program, so having the opportunity to study abroad for a reduced cost was life-changing. This trip was my first time going abroad. I saw firsthand how people in other countries live their daily lives, which was eye-opening. This trip made me even more invested in international service and public affairs.”
DeKay highlights Dr. Richard Harper, dean of students, and Dr. Rebecca Glazier, professor of public affairs, as two mentors who made a significant impact on his life at UA Little Rock.
“Dean Harper has been a huge mentor. He’s the advisor for SGA so I worked with him on numerous projects,” DeKay said. “I would also definitely say Rebecca Glazier has been a great mentor. She was also my faculty mentor for my Signature Experience Project. I’ve been in one of her classes every semester I’ve been at UA Little Rock. She has been one of the most motivating professors I have ever had. I would also like to thank all the professors from the School of Public Affairs, like Dr. Williams and Dr. Giammo. Both of you have made a big impact on my life and have prepared me for my future studies in law school.”
As DeKay reflects on his time at UA Little Rock, his advice for new students is to find and get involved in something they love.
“I tell new students not to be afraid to get involved in things they are interested in,” he said. “I know coming to college can be intimidating for new students, but you should take it one day at a time, meet new people, and then go from there.”
Angelita Faller writes for the communications office at UALR.