Conway student awarded grant

by Ryleigh Salmon

2013 marks the 15th anniversary of the Elrod Center’s Kluck Student Enrichment Grant (KSEG) at Ouachita Baptist University. To celebrate, a special amount of $2,500 was awarded to Nicole McPhate of Conway and the students of the photo lab for their project, Arkadelphia Smiles.

Dr. Wesley Kluck, vice president for institutional advancement and university physician, and his wife, Debbie, founded the grant in 1998. They set up these endowed funds in collaboration with the Elrod Center “to create an entrepreneurial service culture at Ouachita,” said Ian Cosh, vice president for community and international engagement. “So many students had great ideas but no funds to implement them.”

When Kluck and his wife got married, they set a standard of living that they felt comfortable with, and committed that anything they earned above that would be used to serve other people. “Basically, it’s just wise use of our money,” Kluck said. “If you have excess, in our philosophy, then you should serve other people with that.”

The first grant was presented in 1999 and over the course of the last 15 years, the KSEG committee has awarded 246 grants for a total of $67,523.52.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years,” Kluck said. “I remember handing the check to Dr. Andy Westmoreland on his inauguration day. I actually gave that to him as his first present as new president of Ouachita.”

For McPhate, a senior mass communications and graphic design double major, the 15th anniversary grant is a blessing. “Without the Kluck grant, and without the 15th anniversary grant that is even more money, there’s no way we could do this,” she said.

As the editor for the photo lab and communications intern for the Arkadelphia public schools, McPhate wanted to serve them with her idea.

“Arkadelphia Smiles is a project that will bring studio-quality family portraits to the families of the students who attend Arkadelphia Public Schools,” McPhate said in her grant proposal. “We hope to give these families the opportunity to have a family keepsake that they can proudly display in their homes.”

“When you see tornadoes and hurricanes destroying houses and cities, people are going through their rubbish trying to find a picture,” Kluck said. “Obviously, the things that people cherish the most are family pictures.”

McPhate got the idea for Arkadelphia Smiles from, an international organization of photographers who take portraits of families for free and gift them with the prints.

“I’d known about help-portrait, but I’d never been able to help out locally,” McPhate said. “We don’t really have a way to volunteer as photographers, at least that’s what we photo lab students feel. But we’re called by God to use our skills to honor him.”

With 2,010 students in the Arkadelphia district, the photo lab staff hopes to give every one of them a portrait. “We want every family to come,” McPhate said. “We have enough money to give every family a photo and we want to be able to use all of it.”

Each of the five schools in the district will have portraits taken on a specific night.

In addition to the special 15th anniversary KSEG, there were four regular grants awarded this semester. Tri Chi Women’s Social Club was given $300 to create a Little Free Library, a station to house donated books that will be placed outside the Boys and Girls Club of Arkadelphia. OBU’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta international English honor society was given $275 to conduct writing contests with Arkadelphia High School and award the winners with being published in SCOPE, Ouachita’s literary journal. Backyard Bible Club was given $250 to pay for food, housing and travel for Camp Wamp, a weekend retreat for children in the surrounding area. The kinesiology department was given $250 to purchase T-shirts and concessions for a one-day basketball camp they are hosting for fourth through sixth-graders in Arkadelphia.