Harold Larue of Fort Smith learned important lessons at each step of his college career at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, and he has the degrees and certificates to show for it.
Larue earned four credentials from UAFS, each of them giving him the knowledge needed to succeed at that point in his career. The certificate of proficiency and technical certificate in workforce leadership he earned from UAFS were invaluable while a supervisor at Whirlpool.
“Those certificates were right in line with what I was learning as a supervisor and our change to lean technology,” Larue said. “It taught me the right way to do things and the right way to get results. It taught me the right way to investigate, the right way to speak and treat personnel - it’s endless. There isn’t a limit to what I learned from it.”
That degree motivated Larue to continue on to earn his associate degree, which he saw as a way to increase his earnings potential and create more opportunity for him within the company.
When he received his associate degree in 2003, UAFS had just become a four-year university, and he saw an opportunity to continue his education and earn a bachelor’s degree to advance in his career.
A first-generation college graduate, Larue realized the importance of education after growing up with five siblings who each struggled financially. To punch his ticket to college, he enlisted in the military and served in the Marine Corps, highlighted by four years of service in the Gulf War.
“My whole family struggled when we were growing up,” he said. “I didn’t want that lifestyle for me or my family.”
Receiving his bachelor’s degree, then, was an opportunity to not only change his life but the lives of his family as well. After encouraging his return to college, Larue’s wife went back herself and earned her accounting degree. The couple also set an example for their children, one of whom has graduated college and works as a phlebotomist in Minnesota while continuing her education in the nursing field. The other is still in high school but plans to attend college and was recently named to the National Society of High School Scholars.
Earning his bachelor’s degree also opened a new world of opportunities for Larue. In 2017 he became a shift leader at Glatfelter after working in leadership roles at other companies.
“Every job I worked since I got my degree, I went straight into management and supervisory roles,” he said. “The degree is the reason. If I wouldn’t have gotten my degree, I wouldn’t have the opportunities I’ve had, and I don’t think that my kids would be in the positions they’re in.”
“It was a great inspiration to see myself grow educationally in line with the growth of UAFS,” he said. “That was an amazing experience – a great milestone for myself and UAFS as well.”