Fulfilling the Dream-Student stays the course on trail to achieving dream of being vet
Editor’s Note: In honor of Black History Month, the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville would like to highlight some of its outstanding students and their successes. This is the first in a four-part series.
Hattie Wells learned the lesson of beginning with the end goal in mind at a young age.
The Batesville native was participating in competitive trail riding with her grandmother at the age of 9. “I didn’t compete until I was 10, but I would go to the competitions and help my grandmother and the other riders,” she said.
Competitive trail riding is a distance sport competition over a measured trail that is completed within a window of time. Riders of all ages are welcomed, and competitions are open to all equine breeds. Horses are evaluated on soundness, condition, trail abilities, and manners. Riders are judged separately by a horsemanship judge in areas such as safety, courtesy, horse care and equitation as it applies to distance riding.
“It focuses on teaching safe riding practices as it applies to trail riding,” Wells said.
Competitions are multi-day events. Riders must set up camp according to a prescribed set of safety standards. They evaluate the trail map and determine how much time will be needed to complete the trail as well as the obstacles that must be completed along the way. “You have to get up really early, feed the horses and give them time to digest, and then saddle up. All riders have to meet and clock out to get their time started. I’ve ridden seven to nine hours a day and had rain pouring down on us the whole time,” she said.
Wells has competed in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. She still has her horse that she started competitions with, Peaches. “She’s 21 now and happily retired,” she said.
Wells has called upon her lessons in perseverance during her college journey. After graduating with honors as a homeschool student, she originally planned to attend Lyon College. “I had a brother who graduated from Lyon, and my goal was to go there after high school. After I talked about it with my mom, I decided going straight to Lyon after being homeschooled might be a bit of a culture shock.”
Wells enrolled at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville and anticipates graduating with her associate degree in general education this semester. She plans to continue her education and pursue a veterinary technician degree. Her ultimate goal is to be a veterinary and work specifically with equine and large animals.
Wells said she is wholeheartedly focused on her completing her education. “My parents always encouraged us to get an education. I recently found out that I had an uncle who passed away who didn’t know how to read. I had no idea. It really puts into perspective the importance of education,” she said.
Her relentless work ethic and academic excellence led to Wells receiving the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Endowed Scholarship from the UACCB Foundation. In her letter of recommendation for Wells, Rachel Ratcliff, UACCB biology instructor, wrote that Wells “infectious drive for knowledge motivated her classmates, including the older non-traditional students.”
“Hattie not only strives for excellence herself, she helps those around her excel, without condescension,” Ratcliff added.
Kristi Moody, owner of Prince Cuts and a realtor with Crye-Leike, also provided a letter recommending Wells as a scholarship recipient, saying, “Hattie’s commitment is reflective of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She is a self-directed leader taking big steps for her dreams.”
Wells said that she could easily be a lifelong student. “I love school, and I love learning. I’m going to have to transfer because I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t learning,” she said laughing.
Like her classmates, Wells had to learn how to navigate college through the COVID-19 pandemic, which presented unique challenges. She took classes through the fall 2019, spring 2020, and summer 2020 semesters. Coupled with learning to complete coursework and attend classes in a remote format was the stress that came from concerns for several of her family members who would be considered high-risk patients if they contracted the virus. Wells said many of her instructors went the extra mile to help her stay on track.
“My instructors were great to work with me to help me get classwork completed,” she said. “Ms. [Holly] Goslin would stay after class and look over essays I was submitting for scholarships and give me advice on improving them. She also helped me last semester with printing off work for school since I was quarantined at the beginning of last semester.
“Ms. [Rachel] Ratcliff has given me advice on my future and my education. She loves horses too, so we had that in common. If you need help, she’s determined to help you. Ms. [Van] Taylor has been the most encouraging person I’ve ever known. If I ever feel like I need something, I can email her. She always made it a point to check on me and see how I was doing.”
The pandemic also affected Wells’ wedding plans. She and her husband, Colton Coldwell, were married September 16, 2020 but did not have a formal ceremony. She said they plan to have a full ceremony in the future.
As an interracial couple, Wells said she and her husband have faced racial stigmas, but she’s determined not to let others’ judgments affect her life.
“I always tell people racism is unfortunately one of those conversations that you’re never going to not have. I personally don’t get offended because my dad lived through segregation, and he still experiences racism today, but he doesn’t let it affect his everyday life. He is my inspiration,” she said.