Meet Brent Barker!
In less than a week, Arkansas Support Network (ASN) is celebrating its 30th Anniversary during our 25th Annual Honors Luncheon. For 30 years, we have partnered with hundreds of families to ensure access to quality of life for those who have developmental disabilities. Our mission has involved educating Arkansas communities about the value of cultivating inclusive environments for the individuals and families we have supported over the years. These efforts would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of ASN staff and supporters.
This summer, Tyson Foods and United Way of Northwest Arkansas collaborated to create an internship program that provides young adults the experience of working in nonprofits across Northwest Arkansas. Their collaboration has given us the wonderful opportunity to meet our summer marketing intern, Brent Barker. Through a series of interviews and meetings with longtime ASN staff and supporters, Brent is collecting stories that demonstrate the journey of our mission during the past 30 years. After gathering these stories, Brent works to create new video and social media content. By doing so, Brent is developing an easier way for our supporters to access the experiences of our ASN family. We look forward to sharing these stories with you in the upcoming months.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Brent Barker and I’m going to be a Senior Marketing major at the University of Central Arkansas! I’m from the small town of Gentry where I was proud to call myself a Pioneer and represent maroon and white on the basketball court and baseball diamond. After high school, I decided to attend the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, but decided that home for me was a little further South East in Conway, the rapidly growing “city of colleges.” I transferred down for my sophomore year and haven’t looked back. From the moment I arrived, I knew I had made the right choose in joining “Bear Nation.” I joined the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, where I was able to cultivate and grow in my leadership skills and meet people who I’ll have relationships with for the remainder of my life. I currently hold the Recruitment chair position, and have previously managed all Public Relations aspects of the fraternity as the PR chair. I am currently enjoying getting to make a difference here in my local community working as a Marketing Intern at ASN, and am proud to help other students as the Program Marketing Assistant for Career Services during the school year at UCA.
How are you liking Northwest Arkansas?
I was raised my entire life in Northwest Arkansas in Gentry, so this will always be my home. As much as I love Central Arkansas and appreciate all of the unforgettable memories, I always knew I would end up right back where it all began – In the beautiful Ozark mountains.
How did you first learn about Arkansas Support Network?
My sister had previously worked at ASN so I knew a little bit about the company and it’s mission and goals, and I thought it would be a great place to gain experience while also getting a chance to try making a difference in the community!
What is a typical day like for you at Arkansas Support Network?
My days can be very different depending on the project I’m working on. I’ve recently been creating different videos and content for our 30th Anniversary Luncheon. So I’ve been all around Northwest Arkansas capturing footage and interviewing different people. I recently was fortunate enough to go to the Amazeum in Bentonville (near Crystal Bridges) with our Kid’s Club Program. I had an awesome time hanging out with the kids and getting footage of them having a blast!
What led you to the field of marketing?
I have always been interested in business. My dad has been a business owner and my mother is in HR. I think being around them sparked an interest at a young age for me, so I started out as a business administration major. I knew I really enjoyed my business courses and that I wanted to do something in that field, but it wasn’t until I went into my junior year where I realized marketing was a great fit for me. I love people, the psychology behind how and why people think a certain way, and really enjoy the technological side of it as well. Making videos, promoting a service, event, or product, and being able to tell a story through videos and a variety of mediums, I felt very passionate about the work I was doing. I also started working for Career Services in a Marketing role which helped me gain invaluable Marketing experience early on.
What has been your favorite moment so far during your time with ASN?
One thing that immediately stood out to me was the morning of my second day of work I had a meeting at our home office with my supervisor, Kisha Snell, and Syard Evans, the CEO of ASN. I remember walking into the office wondering how many interns even get the opportunity to meet the CEO of their company, let alone discuss different ideas and projects. One of my favorite parts of the job has been getting to meet and develop relationships with so many different people – coworkers and the people who ASN supports.
Now that you have spent time with both employees and people who are supported by ASN, what is something you would want your community to know about Arkansas Support Network?
I would want everyone to know how much effort and pride employees of ASN put into their jobs. Driven by a cause much bigger than themselves, ASN employees aren’t here for just a pay check. They are here to make a difference. Our direct support and in home staff might not get all the recognition and glory they deserve, but they don’t mind. They are here to create a more inclusive community for everyone and support independence, and as long as there are people who need support, ASN will continue to be a leader in the community.