Student Spotlight: Daniel Clemons

Last month saw the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton celebrate its graduating class of 2023, awarding over 1,000 associate degrees, technical certificates, certificates of proficiencies, and certificates of general education. 

Many of the students awarded have plans to continue their education in various ways, such as utilizing one of the many transfer agreements UACCM has with four-year universities in the state, such as Arkansas Tech University, University of Arkansas, University of Central Arkansas, and more. 

Additionally, several students are forgoing continued formal education and jumping right into their careers. This is the case for 19-year-old Daniel Clemons, a welding technology student from Conway.

On May 22, just two days after UACCM Commencement, Clemons began his career with Smith Underground in Sherwood. Despite beginning his career while still a teenager, Clemons says his journey was anything but straightforward. 

“In my junior year of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do,” says Clemons. He considered joining the Army after high school, even going so far as to joining JROTC, but one course came along that changed the trajectory of his life. “I took welding and fell in love with it. I decided to pursue that and found that UACCM provides a lot more opportunities, so that was the big winner.” 

While at UACCM, Clemons found no shortage of opportunity in the welding program, stating, “You start with your basics and work your way up. We do every form of welding there is, and you pick a specialty.” 

One of the most beneficial courses Clemons found himself in was Advanced Welding.

“In that class we figure out what we want to do for a living and that’s all we specialize in for that semester. All semester I welded on several different types of pipes, just getting used to a little bit of everything, so that I’m prepared for anything that’s thrown at me on the job,” Clemons said. 

“Our instructors push us to be really good. When we turn something in, they expect it to be the best weld we could have made. I feel like their standards are higher than what it would be in the field. When they send us out, they want people to recognize us,” Clemons said. One instructor in particular played a significant role in Clemons education – welding instructor Zackary Freeman.

“Mr. Freeman has been a huge help to me. He was my only instructor for a while, and he taught me much of what I know today. He pushes me to do the best I can. He critiques every little thing and says, ‘This is what you can improve on,’ and it’s not to tear you down or anything, but it’s to make you better,” Clemons said. 

Despite the push to be as good as possible, Clemons said they found more than enough time to have fun in the department. “We’re all a really close and tight-knit group over there, so we can joke around and have a good time while we’re all working.” 

Part of Clemons tight-knit group are four of his classmates in the program – Orlando Balderas, from Conway, who Clemons went to high school with; Logan Owings, from Russellville; Riley Robinson, from McGehee; and Chase Shurtleff, from Morrilton. 

“We all got pretty close over the last two years. We have a group chat and since day one we have pushed each other – helped each other. There’s been days where we’ve stayed until almost 5 in the afternoon just getting extra practice in. We just want everyone to be successful – to do good – so we hold each other accountable and push one another,” Clemons said. 

Clemons also found support outside of UACCM, in his home settings. “My mom is a schoolteacher. She stayed on me all the time, all the way through high school. That’s always helped me. She’s who pushed me to come to UACCM.” Clemons continues, “Both my mom and dad wanted me to be successful and stay on the right track.” 

The idea of being successful is what has driven Clemons through his times of uncertainty and has led him to gold medal finishes in the Arkansas SkillsUSA General Welding competition in back-to-back years. “Success for me would be a measure of if you have met your life goals. Everyone has a goal in life, if you’re able to achieve that goal, and continue to, goal after goal, that is being successful in life to me.” 

As for Clemons goals, he says, “I want to get a good paying job and get my own house. I want to take care of myself and have fun while I do it.” 

Just two days after commencement, Clemons finds himself already meeting his life goals. 


  1. Way to go Daniel, proud of you!!

  2. Really proud of you Daniel, keep up the good work.

  3. Oh Daniel! I am so proud of you, and, your accomplishments! I have always known that you would excel in life! May God continue to bless and keep you! Miss Libbie

  4. We are so very proud of you. We always knew you would excel in what ever the goals you chose in life


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