Governor's Letter: Empowering Careers for All

By Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday, September 15, 2022

Some of the people I admire most are those who choose a nontraditional path in life. I recently learned about three young Arkansans who have made that choice. Their stories perfectly fit with the theme of the 2022-2023 issue of Next Pros, which is “Girl Power.” 

Nikki Crane

Nikki Crane (pictured left) is a girly-girl whose family was supportive but amused when she talked about going into the male-

dominated field of architecture. They assumed she would pursue an arts career that was more welcoming to females, such as graphic design. 

But Nikki was determined to become an architect. She earned her Bachelor of Science in architecture studies in 2016 and her Master of Architecture in 2017. Now she works on the architectural staff of Polk Stanley Wilcox, a commercial firm with offices in Little Rock and Fayetteville. You can view her work on the firm’s website, here.

Nikki graduated from Sheridan High School in 2012, three years before my administration launched the Computer Science Initiative, which encourages young women to consider careers in STEM. We have seen an encouraging increase of more than 1,100% in the number of young women taking computer science since 2015.

Once in a while, Nikki doubted she could succeed as an architect, but she said that was “because architecture is challenging, not because I was a girl.”

Kassie Cramer is the first woman diesel mechanic to join Entergy’s team. 

“She was the best candidate for the job, and I had quite a few candidates,” her supervisor, Ben Sims, said in a story at

Kassie learned to repair cars in her father’s shop, and she studied to be a diesel mechanic at UA Pulaski Tech. 

She says she enjoys taking things apart and putting them back together.

Kassie is changing the way people perceive women in a mechanic shop, and she also wants to change women’s perception of a career as a mechanic. She tells other women that working with nothing but men is “not that awkward. It's just the same as working anywhere else.”

Sara Russell-LingoEarly in 2022, Sara Russell-Lingo (pictured left) became the first woman lineworker at Entergy. She started her career at H-VOLT Academy, an Entergy-supported lineworker school at UA Pulaski Tech.  She liked the idea of working outdoors and helping people.

“I love the adventure,” Russell-Lingo told a writer for
“I love going to communities. Their lights are off, and they're all grumpy and upset, and we leave and they're smiling and happy.”

She doesn’t consider this a man’s job. “It's a career, and it's awesome. The guys I work with ... don't treat me any different. ... I just fit in. They’re teaching me what I need to know and watching out for me.”

So does she prefer line-man or line-worker? “I'm perfectly fine with being called a lineman,” she said.

These three young women are trailblazers whose choice will make these decisions for young women who follow. Thank you, Nikki, Kassie and Sara for leading the way.