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Craig Smith

Craig Smith graduated from Conway high school as a member of Choosing to Excel’s youth leaderhsip team. He obtained his Bachelors degree from Midwestern State University and will graduate with his Master’s in May of 2019. Craig is a Married father of 4 children, Phoebe, Felicity, Jayden and Jayleigh and is currently a Sergeant with the Austin Police Department in Texas.
As a leadership Alumni, Craig believes Excel is a great organization that prepares our youths of today to be future leaders of tomorrow. 
He credits Choosing to Excel with giving him positive leaders like Dandrick Moton to look up to. Craig’s fondest memory is that leaders like Dandrick encouraged his group to do things the right way.

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LaShanta Smith

Prim N Proper/Excel has had a tremendous impact on my life. I carry with me the principles I learned in this program DAILY! I learned how to serve and how to be a leader through this program. I was exposed to many opportunities at a young age that a value and cherish to this day! As a teacher, parent, mentor, and church youth director, I instill the same values I learned as a youth leader in the Excel program!

I am currently married to Jasper Johnson and we have two children, Kaleb (7) and Kynlei (1).

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CJ Crisp

I was first introduced to Choosing to Excel through the Communications Internship Program at the University of Central Arkansas where I was studying for my degree in Public Relations and Marketing. I was drawn immediately to the passion the Excel team had for the young people they were serving, but even more so to the desire they had for me to grow as an intern and member of the community. After graduation, the Excel team welcomed me as a staff member where they poured into me for over 8 years. During this formative time in my adult life, Excel provided me with the opportunity to serve young people every single day. When I first began, I thought that perfection in my personal and spiritual life were crucial to making an impact…but I was wrong. Being a staff member taught me that perfection isn’t going to make much of a difference to the students we encounter, but my genuine love for them will. My willingness to share my struggles with them and walk alongside them as they navigate theirs is what made me effective. Together we celebrated victories and picked up the pieces when mistakes were made. It was a special time of development for me, for which I am forever grateful. 

I currently serve as the Director of Donor Relations at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth where I continue to work with students each day. I look back on my time with Choosing to Excel fondly, and as a reminder that the need for healthy encouragement is great. There is so much we can all do for one another.

Lewis Pike

Excel was a cornerstone for me being the loyal and accountable adult that I am today. When I really take a look at the impact Excel had on my life, it was the first organization that encouraged me to challenge the norm of what my peers and society said I should be. If you have a message or a passion you believe in, go after it and make the biggest impact possible. The life lessons and skills learned with Excel helped me graduate from the University of Central Arkansas, and now succeed as a Technology and Digital Marketing Consultant.

Thomas Askew

Thomas Askew is a father of 5, currently a material damage field adjuster for Shelter Insurance; and owner of SkyWalker Management Group, LLC, which is a full service entertainment brand specializing in artists development, management, marketing, and branding. 

C2E played a major role in shaping me into the man I am today! Excel taught me how to be a leader, and how to set and accomplish goals, while always having a spirit of service. Being apart of the Excel family has definitely helped me in all aspects of life and has equipped me with the necessary tools to obtain opportunities that I never imagined possible.

Jelani Lewis

I am a Class of 2003 UCA graduate, loving husband, and father of two beautiful children, Judah and Jadon.

I heard once that in your first job it’s actually more important what you learn than what you earn because the learnings can become foundational for the future. Excel was my first full-time job out of college and for me, it was certainly like accelerated continuing education. As a part of the Excel organization, I learned invaluable people skills, how to dream bigger and develop vision, and how to mentor and raise up others. I also gained crucial experience in leadership and more importantly, learning how to lead myself. Additionally, I always felt like no matter what we were facilitating (camps, retreats, workshops etc.), we were always giving hope.

Armani Famous

I began my journey with Choosing to Excel by going to the summer camp they offered before my sixth grade year. That fall I attended G.E.M.S., and I was a part of Choosing to Excel until I graduated with highest honors from Conway High School in 2015. I then moved forward in my academic journey at the University of Central Arkansas. Through my sorority, I was given the opportunity to start volunteering for G.E.M.S. every Thursday, and I thoroughly enjoy it.  I graduated with honors from UCA in December 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, and I work in my field as a Clinical Diet Assistant at Conway Regional Health System. I learned to keep the end in mind and to be accountable for my actions through Choosing to Excel, and I am blessed to be able to impact young women and give back to an organization that helped me so much.