By Hannah Keller Flanery
Communications and Marketing Coordinator at UACCB
Like many high school graduates, Tiffany Guinnip (pictured) wasn’t sure what she was going to do after graduation, but at the time she didn’t have any plans to attend college.
“My mom and my grandma informed me that I was going to go to college,” Guinnip said with a laugh. “Education was important enough to my great grandmother that she saved for me, my sister, and my two cousins so we could go to college.”
A first-generation college student, Guinnip came to the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB) on the last day to register before the fall 2009 semester during the days of arena registration. “I called it cattle registration because there were so many people,” Guinnip said.
At first, she thought she would pursue a career in nursing.
“I was a teen mother. I had my son at 18 right when I graduated high school. I thought I wanted to be a CNA because that would be a good job with good pay, but during clinicals, I discovered that was not my thing,” she said.
Guinnip switched her focus to a degree in medical office management, but decided the medical field was not where she wanted to be.
“I took accounting because someone told me it would be an elective that would be a good fit with the medical office management degree. I enjoyed that so I got my associate of applied science degree in business with an accounting focus,” she said.
Guinnip went on to work for Concord Specialty Corrugated as an accounting clerk but was laid off when the company went out of business.
“I floated around for a while. It was hard to find a job at the time because one of the chicken plants was letting a lot of workers go,” she said.
Guinnip heard a radio ad about an opening at UACCB for a faculty secretary, but she was preparing to go on a cruise, so she didn’t apply.
“I regretted it. When I got back from my vacation, I was looking online and found the job posting again. It was the last day you could apply.”
She was hired as the faculty secretary June 4, 2016. She currently serves as the assistant to the vice chancellor for academics and was named the 2019 Outstanding Staff member.
Guinnip said she was encouraged at UACCB to continue her education and went on to earn her bachelor of science degree in organizational leadership from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith in December 2018.
She’s currently working on her master of science degree in strategic communication from Arkansas State University and anticipates completing her degree in February 2020.
“I honestly don’t know if I would have pursued more education if I hadn’t started working here,” Guinnip said. “This is a place where you can grow and where growth is encouraged. I enjoy the structure of campus and the fact that you can be involved in a lot of different things on campus.”
Guinnip and her husband, Leon Guinnip, are both engrossed in school right now and with a son in the fifth grade, they don’t have a lot of spare time. When they do get a free moment, Guinnip said she and her husband are movie buffs and that she enjoys paranormal horror movies.
“My grandma always told me ghost stories all the time when I was little, so I’m fascinated by them,” she said. She also enjoys singing. She took three years of voice lessons and is trained mainly in classical, opera, and show tunes music. Guinnip performed in musicals in high school. She said her best roll was Myrtle Mae in “Harvey.” She also won an award for best stage manager portraying a stage manager in “Bye Bye Birdie.”
As a teen mother, Guinnip said she would someday like to help other teen and young mothers realize they can achieve their dreams regardless of their situation.
“Don’t let that situation define you. I was probably the most non-stereotypical teen mother. I was pregnant for the majority of my senior year, but I was the yearbook editor, I made all As and Bs, I was in choir and the art club. Don’t let it define you and think there’s nothing for you or that you can’t do it. I had a lot of support from my family, and I would like to help provide that kind of support for others in the same situation some day.”
Image via UACCB