#MyPathToSeniorWalk: Jonah Windel Finds His Home on the Hill

Jonah Windel
Photo by Chieko Hara

Jonah Windel

A full-time engineering student, German minor and new father, Jonah Windel was, at first, a little intimidated by the size of the U of A. 

Windel had always enjoyed working on cars, and he knew he wanted to go even further and make a career out of it. 

“When I got to the point of applying for universities, I knew that I wanted to do something with engineering, more specifically the automotive field,” he says. “The University of Arkansas has a great program for mechanical engineering, so it immediately became a top-of-the-list school.” 

He says it was the availability of so many scholarships that “really pushed it over the edge” for him. 

But coming from the tiny town of Deer, Arkansas — an unincorporated community in the Ozarks with a population of less than 150 — Windel says the U of A was daunting “just due to the sheer number of people.” Over 32,000 students attend the U of A, which also employs over 4,000 faculty and staff.

“My graduating class size at Deer High School was 13 students,” he says. “It was definitely different to come from such a small place and end up here.”  

But once he started attending classes, he realized that even though his college classes were bigger than any he’d attended in Deer, they were still much smaller than he expected. In fact, the U of A boasts a 19-to-one faculty-student ratio. 

Windel says that despite its large size, the campus feels very much like a small town, which helped him feel right at home. 

Even better, Windel was able to take advantage of the many student support programs offered at the U of A. “I was very impressed by the large number of campus programs that existed to help students,” he says. “I also really appreciated the peer mentor program, as it helped me to get settled in during my first year and exposed me to the opportunities available at the university.  

“Just in general the amount of student assistance is extraordinary here,” he says. 

His advice to any students from small towns who might be put off by the size of the U of A? He recommends getting involved in campus events, especially during A-Week, which is designed to help incoming freshmen transition from high school to college. 

“One of the hardest things about coming from a small town is feeling like you won't be able to have the same level of community that you have at home,” he says. He advises new students that “finding your group and not shying away from trying the new things that are offered by a larger place are critical to becoming comfortable in the environment.”

For more student success stories like Jonah Windel’s, check out some of our previous #MyPathToSeniorWalk features, such as Lizbeth HernandezNathanael Martin-NelsonAbby GoldsmithMarkese MullinsGerson Fajardo-Bruhl and others at our #MyPathToSeniorWalk website. If you have a story that you’d like told or know someone who has an inspiring story, please check out our nomination form.

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