Name: Carlie Tacker
Classification: Junior
Major: Graphic Design
Hometown: Searcy, AR
Studying at: Art and Design International — Italy, Spain, France, and England

HU: What is your current location?
CT: London, England

HU: What has been the most interesting thing that has happened on your journey so far?
CT: I saw a bullfight in Madrid.

HU: How many pictures do you think you’ve taken as of now?
CT: I’ve filled two memory cards & took up most of the storage on my phone.

HU: What is your favorite photo you’ve taken so far?carlietacker1

CT: It’s from my phone because I haven’t uploaded or edited any off of my camera… It is looking into the courtyard of the Lourve in Paris right before sunset. I love the sun flare. The lighting makes it look almost magical.

HU: What is the most delicious thing you’ve eaten so far?
CT: I love tiramisu!

HU: What has this experience studying abroad taught you?
CT: I’ve learned to go with the flow. That’s been a little hard for me because I like to be in control. In a different country, it’s difficult. I find myself not knowing what’s happening or what’s coming next, but I’ve ended up having the most fun when I’m willing to just sit back and let things happen.

Tags: ,

Mother's Day 2016Do you have any hobbies? “Well, I have a 13-year-old.”

While interviewing Lora Fleener, manager of student support and communication, for the upcoming issue of Harding magazine, I discovered several things for which she is passionate. After talking about her teenage daughter, I found one of those passions is for adoption.

“I love to talk about it,” Fleener said. “I love to talk about adoption because I feel like it’s an important thing. This is something dear to my heart.”

Fleener grew up with two adopted siblings in a home often filled with foster children. She always assumed she would one day get married, have kids and adopt. Time went on. As she remained single, she doubted whether she would be able to adopt until accompanying a friend adopting two daughters from Vietnam.

first look“When I saw them there, I thought to myself ‘I have got to do that,’” Fleener said. “I really think that the Lord put that on my heart. When we got back, I prayed about it for almost a year. I asked my family if I was crazy for doing it. But a year later I applied, and they were very supportive.”

The adoption took more than two years.

“International adoption is not for the wimpy,” Fleener said. “It takes a lot of paperwork and gut-wrenching decisions. During the process, Vietnam was closing its doors to adoption. I wasn’t sure that I would get a baby even though I had been waiting for two years. Then I found out about Lydia the day before Thanksgiving.”

On Jan. 22, 2003, Fleener’s adoption of 3-month-old Lydia was official. Like many others, Fleener spoke about how being a parent has shaped her life.

“I firmly believe that God put her with me specifically,” Fleener said. “You do a lot of praying when you have a teenager, when you have a child, and when you’re a single parent. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but it’s so much harder than I expected it to be. She makes me a better person because I want to be a better person for her, to give her an example, and to encourage her to be a woman of God.”

Look for more about Fleener and her role at the University in the fall issue of Harding magazine.


Shelby Dias, director of news services



I was in middle school when I first met Harding University. I came to campus with my youth group for one of the first youth events that I ever attended. Hundreds of other kids had come from all over the country to spend the week at Uplift.

Many things made my experience great. I was away from home with all of my friends. I could eat pizza in the Harding cafeteria for every meal. I stayed in the dorms, went to Uplift classes in the McInteer building, and felt grown up being on a college campus. But I’m really thankful for Uplift because it introduced me to Harding.

I remember my first session of Uplift well. The theme that year was “The Call,” and worship times and classes throughout the week all revolved around the story of Jonah. Uplift is for students entering the 7th grade through graduating seniors, but “The Call” was a pretty deep theme for this group. It challenged us, and we grew from the time we spent together.

Each night, our group met and talked about what we learned from the day. It was an open forum for us to share anything we wanted. I remember one particular night when we were all sitting in a stairwell together. We all got really honest with each other and talked about how we were feeling about issues in our life. It was a breakthrough moment for our group, and we spent time praying and growing closer together.

During this week, many campers decide to commit their lives to Christ and be born again in baptism. If you go to, you can see the live stream of baptisms on Sunday and Tuesday nights during each session and watch as young people make the most important decision of their lives. I remember sitting on the steps of the Benson and shouting out “Bye” to campers one after another right before they were dipped into the water of the fountain in front of the McInteer. Campers still do this today.

The first session of Uplift ended today, and two sessions of Uplift will be held June 18-23 and June 25-30. Harding played a role in my spiritual development before I even knew I was going to be a student here. And it brings me so much joy knowing how many other students will soon experience Uplift and be introduced to Harding.

Hannah Owens, director of digital media



“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” -Romans 12:10

Like many others, I woke up Sunday morning to the devastating news that a lone terrorist had gunned down dozens of people in Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub. As information trickled in through news outlets, headlines and word of mouth, it became clear that we had just witnessed the worst shooting in our history. Adding insult to injury, the terrorist group responsible for inciting such hatred and violence proudly took credit for the carnage.

Words fail to capture the degree to which we are all diminished when fellow human beings, fellow divine image bearers, are abruptly and violently torn from this world. Even harder to express is the degree to which we are all diminished when one of our own, one of our fellow human beings, can so vandalize the divine image within himself that he would become capable of such calloused disregard for human life.

Not everyone acknowledges that human beings are created in the divine image, but Christians are among those who do, and because we do we are especially wounded when that image is blatantly disregarded, defaced and destroyed. No disagreement or difference justifies the kind of vicious violence that assaulted us all last weekend.

The only response that seems appropriate — not adequate, but appropriate — for those who bear the divine image and know it is the same mixed response that we see in the one who instilled that image in us: a mix of outrage, sorrow and love. Outrage at how far removed we have become from our basic humanity and our responsibility to reflect God’s image, sorrow at the violence that results from our loss of humanity, and love for both the victims AND the perpetrators of such violence since only divine love pulsing through God’s image bearers is capable of breaking the horrid cycle.

I invite the entire Harding community to join me during the remainder of this month to intercede daily for the injured and the bereft of this most recent terror tragedy and to intercede for communities that are especially targeted for violence by terrorists whether it be Christians, Jews or Muslims who are persecuted for their faith or if it be those singled out for their occupation, gender or lifestyle such as military personnel and their families, the LGBTQ community, or young women who are bought and sold in the sex trade. Jesus calls us, however, to intercede as well for ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, and all other such groups the members of which have forgotten who they are, who we all are — objects of God’s love, fellow bearers of God’s image, fellow seekers of God’s truth. May God bring us all back to our senses and to our sensitivity to how precious all human life is to the One who made us all.

Kevin Youngblood, associate professor in the College of Bible and Ministry

Jody VenkatesanThis week the University hosted nearly 200 high school delegates at the 60th annual National Leadership Forum. The event featured several lectures regarding topics such as leadership, attitude, economy, and issues related to environment and agriculture.

Among the speakers was Jody Venkatesan, a 1996 Harding alumnus. Venkatesan, owner of a professional consulting firm, spoke to students about the American economy and its opportunities for entrepreneurship.

“You don’t find a sense of entrepreneurship like you do in Silicon Valley anywhere else,” Venkatesan said in his presentation Tuesday morning.

Venkatesan spoke about how his early career experiences in internal and external auditing provided him with knowledge to develop his own company. He shared concrete steps to take when starting a business, such as incorporating and obtaining a tax ID. For many students, this was the first time someone had detailed how to go about being an entrepreneur.

“We ought to be teaching young people to become entrepreneurs, not telling them that they can’t,” Venkatesan said in his presentation. “You learn by going out and doing things, not by doing nothing.”

Venkatesan delved into several economic topics during his presentation, touching on national debt, national budget deficit, free market and the global economy. The basic overview aimed to inform students of where their ideas might fit in the broader picture of the nation’s economy.

In closing, Venkatesan shared student ideas for products, services or businesses. He said there is value in ideas, especially ones that improve upon existing processes. He encouraged them not to undersell themselves and to pursue their ideas.

“Economic growth is constantly being driven by innovation, research and development,” Venkatesan said. “It will continue to be driven by this generation of innovators.”

Shelby Dias, director of news services


2016-010-0066A couple of years ago, I discovered Magnolia trees and their beautiful white blooms. I have long been a lover of flowers, but somehow magnolia blooms had escaped my attention. I don’t know if I actually created the hashtag MagnoliaMonday or if I had just never seen it before, but it was my way of rebellion against the then popular mancrushmonday, womancrushwednesday, throwbackthursday and so on. Don’t get me wrong — themes can be good but sometimes are overused. My kids thought I was being ridiculous and that was a good enough reason to continue the theme. I haven’t counted, but there are dozens of Magnolia trees on campus so I have plenty of good opportunities for photos with these sweet smelling blooms all summer. Have a good week and happy #MagnoliaMonday.

2014-010-3682 2014-010-3708 2014-010-3745 2014-010-3776
2016-010-0083 2016-010-0146 2016-010-0177

Jeff Montgomery/photographer



Members of the Dactylology Club after their annual Christmas caroling.

For the spring issue of Harding magazine, I covered several student organizations. It was interesting to learn about what these clubs are doing and their varied interests. Another example of an awesome student organization is the Dactylology Club, which is one of the oldest organizations on campus.

The club traces its origins to a class started in fall 1949 by student Sam Roach, who was hearing impaired. He began leading classes in sign language. In a letter, Roach wrote that the purpose of the group was “to teach and train hearing people to preach the gospel and work among deaf people in any way they desired to serve.” The classes officially became the Dactylology Club in 1956.

Today, students meet weekly on campus for classes and plan occasional trips to visit Sylvan Hills Church of Christ in North Little Rock, Arkansas, to participate in the services and class for the deaf there. In December, they go to the homes of some deaf members of the community and perform Christmas carols in sign language.

The club also allows hearing students to get a taste of what being deaf is like.

“’It’s a Deaf, Deaf World’ is an activity that we do with members of Arkansas Rehabilitation Services and Arkansas Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Little Rock,” says sponsor and director of the McNair Program Linda Thompson. “This activity simulates what it would be like in a deaf world where the predominant language is silent, turning the tables on the hearing. It’s an eye-opening activity.”

Thompson was a Dactylology Club member when she was a student. Her group had traveled to a church in Little Rock, Arkansas, to sign for the deaf members. “My husband, [Dean of the College of Sciences] Travis Thompson, who was my boyfriend at the time, tried to tell the deaf members that we were going to be married, only the sign for ‘marriage’ and the sign for ‘hamburger’ are very much alike, and he told them we were hamburgers! They just laughed, and when we figured out what he had done, we laughed, too.”

To learn more about a few of the other campus organizations in our spring issue, click here.

Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer

Tags: , ,


The spring 2016 Harding magazine is now online and coming to a mailbox near you very soon. In addition to the latest news, sports and alumni notes, we have some really great feature stories in this issue.

Toria Parrett, a May 2016 graduate, was a student writer for our office and wrote a story on the University’s department of public safety. The story focuses on how technology has impacted how the department functions now and features services it offers to the University community.

The second feature tells the story of two student groups who visited Tuba City, Arizona, for a spring break mission trip. Jeff Montgomery and I traveled to a Navajo reservation in Tuba City and spent the week with students from the kinesiology club and department of communication sciences and disorders. This is the longest time anyone on staff has ever spent on a story assignment, and I can’t even begin to describe how rewarding it was to see this story up close and experience things firsthand. We made relationships with students and faculty on the trip, and we couldn’t have told as strong of a story had we not been there.

Jennifer Hannigan wrote about seven different University organizations for our third feature and provides a snapshot of their place in student life. “My favorite kind of stories to write are the ones that open me up to a part of the University that is new to me, and this story did that,” she said. “For some of these organizations, I knew what they were but not what they did, and for some of them, I knew nothing at all. Learning about these students and their varied interests just proved to me once again what an incredibly gifted group of students Harding has.”

We’re so excited for you to see all of the work that we’ve put into the new issue. You can see the full online version here: Let us know what you think!

Hannah Owens, director of digital media

Saturday was graduation day, and a day of graduation it was. With ceremonies at 9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., the day was full of special moments in Benson Auditorium and on campus. I attended all three graduations, and a few moments really stood out to me.


Prayer list
Board of Trustees Chairman Roy Reaves spoke in each graduation ceremony like he always does, and he said something that I’ve heard before but have never registered the impact. Each member of the board of trustees receives a list of all the names of the graduates before the commencement ceremonies, and they spend time in prayer for those students. How cool is it that graduates have their friends, family, professors and also the board of trustees lifting up their names in prayer?!


Best commencement speech ever
Dr. Cheri Yecke spoke at 9 a.m., and after the graduation was over, I heard a graduate tell someone that Dr. Yecke had given the best commencement speech he had ever heard. Other commencement speakers included Chancellor David Burks and Provost Larry Long, who is retiring in August. It was really cool for me to hear Dr. Burks, who was president of Harding for all four of my years here as a student, and Dr. Long, as this was his last commencement as provost.


Unrestrained exuberance
At each ceremony, President Bruce McLarty asks that audience members hold their applause and excitement until the last name is called. This is a time that he, and Dr. Burks before him, called “unrestrained exuberance.” Well, the 9 a.m. commencement was about the loudest and most unrestrained exuberance I’ve ever heard.


At every graduation, I watched the faces of graduates turn and light up when they spotted their family members, and I saw eyes of graduates and guests fill with tears as the hugeness of college graduation really set in.


Since December 2013, the faculty has participated in graduation ceremonies in a unique way. At the end, they all stand, face the graduates, and sing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” to them, and they did so in each ceremony this year. Right after the song ended in one of the ceremonies, I heard a man behind me lean over to someone and say, “That right there was worth the whole trip.”

Hannah Owens, director of digital media



The day is almost here. Students have worked for four years and more toward a college degree, and it all comes together with a bit of pomp and circumstance. There’s a lot that runs through students’ minds on graduation day. Here are a few little thoughts to get you prepared for walking day.

1. Yes, you look like a wizard from Harry Potter but so does everyone else so let’s move on.

When I graduated, both high school and college, I was slightly self-conscious about how weird I looked. Embrace the meaning of it all. You’re done! Yes, you’re wearing a silky tent and a piece of cardboard with a kitten toy hanging off the side, but what an accomplishment. We just celebrate by wearing funny clothes.

2. You won’t fall. If you do, I’ll give you $20.

This is my fifth school year working for Harding, and I’ve sat through a number of commencement ceremonies. Now I sit through four a year — three in the same day. But I can’t remember a time when anyone has fallen while walking up to get his or her diploma. If you fall, I will highlight your name in my program and mail you $20. Now all you have to worry about is making $20.

3. Be ready to smile for 2,000 photos.

Everyone gets a little crazy snapping photos. After graduations, I walk through the crowd outside the Benson crouching and covering my head like I’m in an ambush. It’s a big day, and it’s probably going to be a day you’ll want to remember down the road. So just take deep breaths and smile the day away.

4. Use #HUgrad16 to share photos and thoughts throughout the day.

5. All ceremonies will be live streamed at

6. Don’t take that hat off until you’re in the comfort of your own home.

Mortarboard hair is real, and it ain’t pretty. I’m looking at you, gentlemen. If you take your hat off, make sure someone helps your hair out a little. If not, you will not want those photos printed.=

7. That moment of “unrestrained exuberance” will hit you like a ton of bricks.

At the beginning of graduation, President McLarty will ask that members of the audience hold their applause and celebration until the end. Once that moment happens, a moment he calls “unrestrained exuberance,” the emotions of endings and leaving and saying goodbye that may not have happened yet very well might hit you all at once in this moment. Everyone is cheering and clapping, and you’ll feel like you just won the gold medal in academic excellence. It’s a big deal.

8. Humor your family. They will probably be more excited than you.

Your mom may cry. Your dad may give you 10 hugs and tell you how proud he is. Your grandparents will shine with pride for your accomplishments. Let them. Let them want to be around you all day. Let them take as many photos of you under the Harding University arch as they want. (But get there quick because people in that long line don’t mess around.) Let them celebrate you however they want to. You deserve to be celebrated.

Hannah Owens, director of digital media


« Older entries