Editorial By Shaila Creekmore, Illustration By Brittney Guest as printed in the Oct. 09 issue of Jonesboro Occasions.
After a visit from an Arkansas State University recruiter at my Little Rock high school 15 years ago, I announced to my parents that I would be going to ASU in Jonesboro. I then very quickly found a map to see where Jonesboro was located.
I grew up in what I now call the central Arkansas bubble - where Arkansas generally goes no further north than Searcy and no further south than Hot Springs. And other than the general direction, I had no idea where Jonesboro was or what type of city it was.
At the end of my junior year in high school, my mom and I visited ASU for the first time. I thought it was a beautiful campus and while Jonesboro was small, I was happy to see it had a mall. I figured with a mall and Wal-Mart, I could make it.
In 1995, I moved into Kays Hall and began my life as a college student on campus. At first, I only ventured off campus to eat, go to Wal-Mart and to church. I knew only the main roads and wouldn’t even dare to venture off of those. Over time, I began learning the back roads and feeling more at home in Jonesboro.
After graduating college and getting married in 1999, neither my husband nor I wanted to return to our home cities and with no idea of where we wanted to go, we just stayed here. We began working in our degree fields and eventually bought a house.
Over time, Jonesboro has truly become our home. Our boys were born in Jonesboro hospitals, Samuel at St. Bernards and Tyler at NEA Baptist. We are active in one of Jonesboro’s great churches and work for family-owned companies in the area.
I now feel very proud of the city I call home, and I am amazed at what a smaller city has to offer. Our parks system is one of the best in the state and provides great places for our children to play and sports programs for them to participate in. Our library likewise has a wonderful space for our children and educational programs throughout the year. Our growing schools are dedicated to educating our children and are providing them a fantastic education.
And the giving spirit of Jonesboro is unbelievable. Through my position withOccasions magazine, I have the opportunity to see the work of numerous non-profits and the many people who give their money and time to ensure success.
Since coming to Jonesboro 14 years ago, I have seen incredible growth and no longer really feel like it’s that little place I first came to visit. We rarely travel to Little Rock or Memphis to shop any longer and I spend too much time – according to my husband – in our mall playing, eating and shopping. Jonesboro now offers many of the advantages of a big city, along with the all the advantages of a small town.
When friends and family ask us how we like Jonesboro, we’re quick to respond – it’s home.