Kathy Benton Ball and her daughter, Andrea Ball Cole, spoke about their educational and professional experiences and intersecting paths over the years at Arkansas State University-Beebe.
Kathy Ball began her college classes at ASU-Beebe in 1965, saying she was always encouraged by her family to go to college and took classes during her high school years that prepared her for this transition.
When Ball arrived on campus, Walter England was the college dean and Rick Chudomelka was the theater and music instructor. “At first, I was intimidated by the college environment, but after my audition for the choir I became more involved on campus.” Ball served on the student government group, and was a member of the Student Christian Association. She also enjoyed touring with the choir to places such as Memphis and North Arkansas.
Ball was also voted Autumn Queen that fall semester, sewing her own dress for the event, which was held in the Ernest Howell Center - the college cafeteria and commons area.
Ball said she had bought her first car while still in high school and this made it easier to drive and park on campus. She returned for fall classes in 1966 and ended the semester with 30 degree-hours earned.
Around that time, Ball met her husband Bill, a navy veteran, and they eventually formed a business in Little Rock, designing signs for area businesses. He had graduated Little Rock Central High School, attended A-State and later Memphis Art Academy. During his college years, he learned how to typeset for advertising and produce artwork using a laser printer. This helped the couple produce signs, silk screenings, t-shirts, and decals for businesses in Little Rock. Their clients included the train station, Coleman Dairy, and Charley O’Soda. “Bill was also a self-taught tool and die technician and machinist, which helped in creating various silk screenings,” said Ball. “He even built a ticker tape machine to use in a commercial one time for a client.”
In 1983, the couple built their house in Floyd and commuted to Little Rock to continue their sign business. Both of their young children, Andrea and Andrew, were able to begin and finish at Beebe Public Schools. However, in 1985 her husband had an accident, which forced the couple to close their Little Rock business.
Ball started working for Child Support Enforcement in Little Rock until 1989. She was then hired as head cashier in the business office at ASU-Beebe, which also allowed her to resume her college classes. “It seemed right and felt like home,” said Ball.
In 2000, Ball changed positions at ASU-Beebe and began working for the Admissions office until she retired in 2007. In addition to Ball’s daughter Andrea, other family members attended ASU-Beebe over the years. Her son, Andrew, attended the John Deere program and her husband Bill took some art classes with long time art instructor Bill Long.
Andrea Ball Cole enrolled and began classes at ASU-Beebe in the fall of 1995, thirty years after her mother. Like her mother, she too had prepared for college before graduating at Beebe High School. Her junior and senior years of high school she took night classes at ASU-Beebe in psychology and reading.
Cole said “In high school, we used Apple computers and learned to use clip art, graphic arts, and adobe print shop programs. However, there weren’t many similar graphic arts type programs at ASU-Beebe when I began.” Cole majored in liberal arts, with an emphasis in physical education. Her career goal was to be a P.E. teacher. She took several classes with Jeannie Lindsey, such as basketball, dodgeball, and even square dancing, as well as continuing to take any computer classes and art classes offered.
Cole said, “College also allowed me to be active on campus, so I volunteered as a Student Ambassador in the Admissions Office, giving tours and helping students feel comfortable on campus.”
Ball and Cole both received their associate degrees from ASU-Beebe at the same time in 1997. Cole was then ready for the next chapter of her educational and professional path when she transferred to A-State that fall to pursue business and computer classes.
At A-State, Cole worked in the admissions and finance offices and volunteered for two years in the athletic department. Then in 2000, she began working full-time for the athletic department’s marketing/fundraising areas. “We had three employees with interns, working games and events and managing the Indian Club (later the Red Wolf Foundation).” Cole said the department provided marketing support for the Athletic Foundation, creating posters, tailgate ‘tent city’ events, kids zone, video boards, and supporting the A-State band.
During the mascot transition from the ASU Indians to the Red Wolves, Cole created the ‘Red’ spirit character and the department had a costume created for Red to represent a positive image. The athletic department also managed the massive search for the new mascot, which was eventually unveiled as Howl riding on a motorcycle into the stadium.
Then in 2018, Cole had the opportunity to return to ASU-Beebe, when she was hired as the Development Officer/Major Gifts in the Office of Institutional Advancement. “It was like coming home,” said Cole. Her job scope includes working with the foundation, fundraising, and scholarships.
“When I started working here, there was a need for a golf cart to use for campus tours,” said Cole. “From my years as a student at both ASU-Beebe and A-State, leading tours across the campus, I could relate to this need. “The campaign lasted a couple months, and ASU-Beebe now has two golf carts to use on campus,” said Cole. “It is a very satisfying feeling to see how everyone worked together and the community support we received for this fundraiser.”
Both Ball and Cole agree that ASU-Beebe feels like ‘home and family,’ which ultimately kept bringing each back to the college over the years.
When asked about advice for students, Kathy Ball said, “Take advantage of community college, apply for scholarships, don’t work over 20 hours a week, and focus on college work.”
“The successes our former students have achieved in their professional and personal lives after their time here at ASU-Beebe make them exceptional role models for current and future students,” said Rose Mary Jackson, Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement. “We value our alumni and take great pride in the opportunity to highlight them. I am especially proud to highlight Andrea because she now serves an integral role in the Advancement office.”
Arkansas State University-Beebe Alumni Stories is a project of the Alumni Association with the goal of sharing and preserving the ASU-Beebe historical and educational experiences of former students. If you are an alumnus and would like to share your story, contact Institutional Advancement at (501) 882-8855.