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University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff student Zaria Moore.
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff student Zaria Moore is a driving force behind the creation of the university's new Emerging Scholars and Leadership Academy.

Students Are Shaping the Future of Leadership in the Delta

June 30, 2023
Supporting great ideas in the Delta begins with looking for emerging leaders

The Arkansas-Mississippi Delta is a place filled with incredible potential. As part of a 30-plus-year commitment to communities in the Delta, the Walton Family Foundation works alongside established and emerging leaders to support their vision to reshape the region’s economic, educational and creative opportunity. We value their voices and are always looking for great ideas. I sat down with Zaria Moore, a former foundation intern and current University of Arkansas- Pine Bluff senior class president, to discuss her vision to support more homegrown leaders in the Delta. The following is an excerpt from our conversation:

Kim Davis: Last summer, we went out for lunch and you asked me how grants were made, and what type of programs we support as a foundation. I knew something was on your mind, and I said, “Well here's the opportunity! Let's have a conversation.” You told me about an idea for an Emerging Scholars and Leadership Academy at UAPB. Where did the idea come from?

Zaria Moore: Prior to my internship with the foundation, I interned with the Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce. They have a leadership development group for people that hold positions [of power] inside of Pine Bluff. I thought, “Okay, if they can do it, we could do it too with students at the university.”

Kim: You mentioned that the university did a good job of providing leadership opportunities for students in specific fields, but there wasn't anything available campus-wide. Why is a program like this important for young people in the Delta?

Zaria: It helps build skills that people need when they get into the workforce. We have a lot of good speakers come in that work in positions that a lot of our students want, like entrepreneurship. It gives students a vision to look for something new in themselves. Like, “Hey, I can do that, too!”

There are so many options people in the Delta have to make it better. To grow.
Zaria Moore

Kim: I think that's critically important. You’ve told me that you feel good about the forward progress being made in the Delta, but you think that young people have more to give to the region.

Zaria: The Delta has a lot of potential. Our students come from all over, from a lot of different backgrounds. The imagination that these students have for what the Delta holds is special. You give them a patch of grass, and they can turn it into rice. They can plant corn. They could turn it into a business, or sell it as real estate. There are so many options people in the Delta have to make it better. To grow.

Zaria Moore with Tim Campbell
Zaria Moore walks with Tim Campbell, who leads the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff's Emerging Scholars and Leadership program.

Kim: Something at the Walton Family Foundation that we've been really focused on is looking for leaders like yourself. We firmly believe that those closest to the problem are also closest to the solution and that there is value in lived experience. Ultimately, we want to provide opportunities for them to lead in their communities.

In my short time knowing you, I've learned so much about the Delta region. You’ve just launched the program. How has it been going?

Zaria: The program is going great. Our numbers are rising. We are about to start our next cohort of students. One of the most touching moments that I had was at our ceremony. We were giving away our certificates to the students, and we had a student come up and say, “I was nervous. I don't like public speaking. I don't like being in front of crowds.” Now he's comfortable to stand up and present whatever he needs to. That really touched my heart. I knew he could do it! He just needed a push in the right direction to feel comfortable doing what he already had inside.

Now Kim, I have a question for you. Why is the foundation investing in the Delta and the people here?

Kim: We are a firm believer in next-generation leadership. You are one of those leaders. Someone who is executing on a vision. You are making a difference in the lives of not only yourself but your classmates. Not just next year, but for years to come. You are providing them with leadership opportunities, whether they remain in the Delta or not, to have tremendous impact in their communities.

To listen to the full conversation between Kim and Zaria, click here.

We believe the best way to achieve lasting impact is to look, listen, learn and lead with our partners and the communities we serve. This series tells some of those stories of change.
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