School News

Ouachita honors 30 graduates in inaugural Applied Behavior Analysis Hooding Ceremony

For immediate release 

By Kiki Schleiff Cherry 

August 9, 2021 

For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at [email protected] or (870)245-5206 

ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Ouachita Baptist University honored 30 graduates during the inaugural Applied Behavioral Analysis Hooding Ceremony on Aug. 7 at Walker Conference Center with Dr. Stan Poole, vice president for academic affairs, presiding. The ceremony recognized the university’s first class of master’s degree recipients since the 1990s by presenting them with their traditional academic regalia. 

Graduates received the Master of Science degree in applied behavior analysis, which prepares them to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)Exam and equips them to serve in fields that address specialties such as autism, developmental disorders and Alzheimer’s disease.  

A charge was given to the class over video by Dr. Steve Gonzalez, visiting assistant professor of applied behavior analysis. 

“Never stop learning. Always continue to achieve,” Gonzalez said, “and strive to be a better person.”  

He encouraged the class to not be afraid to be afraid, and to embrace challenges, stating that “you have inspired me through our course interactions.”  

The program, which is the first of its kind in Arkansas, was launched just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The low-residency program combines online and in-person instruction and allows students to complete it in just 15 months. 

“This class has persevered through extraordinary circumstances,” said Dr. Monica Hardin, associate vice president of graduate and online education. “This is the first master’s-level class at Ouachita in over 30 years and launched in a time when the rest of the world was shutting down. The perseverance of our students and faculty are unparalleled and I am grateful to each of them for their commitment to the program.”

Dr. Sheila Barnes, director and professor of applied behavior analysis, shared the symbolism of the regalia before presenting the graduates with their hoods. She challenged them with these words: “Your scholarly achievements were hard fought but will serve you well. You have earned Ouachita’s first graduate degree in applied behavior analysis, a credential that will enable you to make a difference in the lives of so many.”

Following the hooding, Poole gave the benediction and Jon Merryman, director of alumni, led in the singing of the alma mater.

Ouachita Baptist University, a private liberal arts university in Arkadelphia, Ark., is in its 135th year as a Christ-centered learning community and is ranked the No. 2 “Regional College in the South” by U.S. News & World Report. The second cohort of applied behavior analysis students currently is underway, and applications open for the third cohort on September 1. Learn more about the university’s highly personal approach at

Graduates earning a Master of Science degree in applied behavior analysis in August 2021 include, in order of hometown: 

Alma, Ark.  Chelby Mae Mitchelle, William Keith Montgomery

Arkadelphia, Ark.  Haylee Herndon Cook, Charity Carmen Curlin

Bauxite, Ark.  Elizabeth L. Thompson-Mattox

Bono, Ark.  Mallory Grace Shelton

Clarksdale, Miss. – Anne Friedman Weiss

Conway, Ark.  Lori Elliot Page

Danville, Ark.  Michaela Camille Papasan

El Dorado, Ark.  Monica Marie Smith

Fayetteville, Ark.  Connie Marie Schade

Fort Smith, Ark.  Lakota S. G. Kasworm

Hot Springs, Ark.  Charley Marissa Capps

Little Elm, Texas – Michiko Kuwayama Lee

Little Rock, Ark.  Bethany Lynn Blanche Long, Kally Marie Smith, Bailey Marie Terrell, Victoria Lynn Williams

Magazine, Ark.  Kaylee Lauren Pickartz

Mansfield, Ark.  Mia Renee Harper

Maumelle, Ark.  Katie Waller Sanders

Myrtle Beach, S.C. – Katelyn Ann Sherrill

Nashville, Ark.  Sadie Rae Prejean

Prairie Grove, Ark.  Megan Houston Chambers

Roland, Ark.  Robyn Alyssa Blaylock

Rogers, Ark.  Amanda Dawn Gray

Texarkana, Ark.  Madeline Nicole Harris, Bailee Lynn Stevens

Tulsa, Okla. – Lisa Michelle Hoffman

Wynne, Ark.  Calli Brooke Martin 

Back to top button