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Barnes to Speak at Gambill Alumni Speakers Series


JONESBORO — Amy K. Barnes, a teacher of media classes at Highland High School, returns to Arkansas State University, Tuesday through Thursday, Nov. 1-3, as a guest speaker for the fall 2016 Dr. Joel Gambill Alumni Speakers Series in the College of Liberal Arts and Communication. She will address students, faulty, staff, administrators and community members about her career as a result of her A-State education.

Barnes is a 2013 graduate of what is now known as the Department of Media. Upon graduation, she took a job at Areawide Media in Highland working in the advertising department. After a successful year working in sales, a position opened in the editorial department of the company. Writing has always been Barnes’ passion, and she applied for the job and was hired as a reporter for Fulton County.

Barnes won first runner up in the Arkansas Press Association competition for her cold case series. She teamed with her editor to tell stories of unsolved murders in the local area. The series sparked Barnes' interest and she soon began working on what is called the “Rebekah Gould Series.” 

The series followed the murder of 22-year-old Rebekah Gould in Guion, Ark. in 2004. Search parties looked desperately for Gould after she was reported missing by her mother, Sept. 20, 2004. Gould was set to pick her sister up and head back to college in Northwest Arkansas that afternoon. Her sister became alarmed when Gould never arrived. 

It's been 12 years since Gould was brutally murdered in Izard County, a death that shook a community to its core. Barnes, along with Gould’s father, Dr. Larry Gould of Baxter County, and author George Jared of Jonesboro, who has claimed notoriety for his book “Witches in West Memphis,” work together to keep Gould’s voice alive. Barnes continues to submit articles to Areawide Media concerning the Rebekah Gould series.

In August of 2016, Barnes took a job at Highland High School where she teaches media classes. Because of her experience and degree from A-State, she is able to teach audio/visual technology and film to high school students. She strives to inspire her students and encourage them to stay focused and push themselves to be better than they were yesterday. 

Her goal is to create a culture for learning and hopes to see some of her students take a career in film. Barnes also leads worship at her church and has recorded her own music. She wrote two original songs with Doug Deforest for American Idol’s Lauren Gray’s upcoming album. Barnes continues to write and record and says she will always pursue music. 

Barnes currently lives in Cherokee Village with her six-year-old son, Grayson. 

The endowed Dr. Joel Gambill Alumni Speaker Series is named after the 1965 A-State graduate who wanted to bring the media world to A-State students. Gambill was the first full-time journalism instructor hired by Arkansas State and spent four decades building the department into one of the most respected in the nation. He served as department chair for 36 years.

His numerous awards and recognitions include being named Outstanding Educator by the Arkansas Press Association as well as the organization's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. Along with his dedication to education and journalism, he still devotes his time and talent as official scorekeeper for A-State men's and women's basketball games for 26 years, missing only three games since 1975. Equally passionate about tennis, he captained five Jonesboro teams to the state championship. 

Gambill, who retired in 2010, is known, one newspaper editor said, as “Arkansas's foremost journalism educator.”

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