Determination, perseverance, and caring faculty members have been three factors in the academic success of Devin Cole, a sophomore Entrepreneurial Finance major at Southern Arkansas University.
Last fall, Cole earned a 4.0 while also raising a family and working full-time at a Magnolia insurance company. She and her husband, Matthew, have three small children: Wyatt, Bentlee, and Bexley.

Finding out that she had attained a 4.0 GPA was “monumental,” Cole said. “I was told I couldn’t earn all A’s, but I did. It was the kind of happiness you wish you could bottle.”
The native of Junction City, Arkansas, did not begin her college career immediately after high school. However, several of her family members are alums of SAU, and she decided to extend that tradition by becoming a Mulerider.

“We have a long heritage here,” Cole said. “Our family has been very involved in SAU.”
Cole, who is a student in the Rankin College of Business, has balanced her life responsibilities with work and school. “If it takes staying up until 3 a.m. to do homework, that’s what I’ll do,” she said. “I have a great support team, and the faculty has been so helpful.”

Her professors, including Megan Whitehead, instructor of finance, care about students. “They keep me on track,” Cole said. “They treat students as individuals and go the extra mile to take care of you.”

“Devin came back to school last fall to pursue her undergraduate degree,” Whitehead said. “She is a wife, student, mother of three, and she also works. I knew right away she had a lot on her plate. She brought great life experiences to our personal finance classroom and even brought her baby to class! She was engaging, energetic, but maybe a little unsure of herself at first. She has a lot of potential and I wanted to encourage her. I have no doubt she will do well as she continues to work towards her finance degree.”

A 13-hour course load coupled with full-time employment requires organization and focus. “Balance is so important,” Cole said. “I’m excited about my children seeing me graduate in two years. I want them to understand how important education is, and to know that I did what I had to.”

As a non-traditional student, Cole appreciates face-to-face interactions with professors and fellow students, but had to learn how to study on a university level.

“You have to stay organized and go to class and have a presence there,” she said. “You have to introduce yourself to your teachers and show that you care about your work. The relationships I have with my professors are key to my success.”

She said the Rankin College of Business “has been awesome to me. It’s a great environment where you can get to know the faculty and connect with them. For me, every step has been a positive one.”

Cole said it is never too late to continue one’s education. “I firmly believe there is always an opportunity to learn. There’s never a better time to accomplish your dreams than the present.”

After graduating with her degree in business, Cole intends to pursue a career in medicine. “SAU will provide me with the right education to manage the medical practice I hope to one day own,” she said.

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