Allyson Barker, senior art and marketing major, said she came out of high school knowing she would head east for her college experience. Barker grew up in Palmer, Alaska, and she said she needed to see what opportunities there were for her elsewhere.
Barker originally planned on attending Thiel University, but due to a clerical error, she was told her international baccalaureate score would not count unless she scored a seven.
“I call it my ‘God hitting me over the head with a brick’ moment. He was saying yeah, you’re not supposed to be going to Thiel,” Barker said. “The week before Thiel made that error, I actually told Waynesburg that I wasn’t coming. And then I came back to them and said I changed my mind.”
Barker came to Waynesburg University with her mind set on dual majoring in art and marketing.
She dreams of using her combined knowledge of both subjects to own her own art gallery.
“I was always pretty interested in art and crafts and creating stuff,” Barker said.
Barker has memories of learning specific art skills from her siblings when she was young.
“I have one memory where I was drawing people on our driveway and my sister came and she was like, ‘How did you learn to draw noses like that?’ and I said, ‘I watched you.’”
With her father working in sales and her mother being a manager for most of Barker’s high school career, she knew she had the business side of her family in her blood.
One professor Barker said made an impact on her during her time at Waynesburg was Melinda Walls, W. Robert Stover chair for Entrepreneurial Leadership, director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program and assistant professor of business administration. Barker said Walls became a role model and mentor to her after they met during Barker’s junior year.
“Because of [Walls], I opened myself to participating in two ‘Something from Nothing’ challenges and placed third in last October’s competition,” Barker said. “She has been a great source of support and encouragement the last two years. I consider her a great mentor and friend.”
Walls said Barker is confident, outgoing and has been a very active student leader on campus.
“I am excited for her, but a little sad to see her go. I know that she will be successful in whatever she chooses to do,” Walls said. “We have developed a friendship, and I will miss our time together. I think that the campus will miss her involvement as well.”
Barker also said Andrew Heisey, chairperson for the Fine Arts Department and associate professor of art, was a constant pillar of support throughout her college career, as well as an inspiration.
Heisey has known Barker for the entirety of her college career, serving as her academic advisor. She held jobs in the art department as the studio lab technician and an art history tutor for Heisey.
“Managing the art studios at Waynesburg University is a tremendously labor-intensive job and without Allyson’s help, I would never be able to keep up.” Heisey said.
While focusing on her business degree this spring semester, Barker always found a way to stay involved in the art program.
“While I know this last year was difficult for her, I am so proud that she never compromised and always did her best with whatever she was doing,” Heisey said. “I have no doubt that God has something very special in store for Allyson in the next few years as she finds her place after graduation.”
For the past four years, Barker has participated in many clubs and out of class activities, including art club, which she became secretary for her sophomore year. She was then promoted to president of the art club and became marketing chair of the business club.
Barker is proud of the fact that Waynesburg’s Fine Arts Department is accepting of those active in all the arts, not just those with a paintbrush and canvas.
“I think the coolest thing about our department is that it’s not just a family for all the majors, it’s a family for anyone who wants to be a part of it,” she said.
The advice Barker would give to other students is, “Don’t hold back. Do everything you even think you want to do, and you’ll meet some of the greatest people in your life.”