MCGEHEE, Ark. — When Bob Ware walked into Wolfe-Kelly Daycare in Tillar, Arkansas, 35 years ago, he had no idea that he would have a profound influence on the life of one of the children. But for Matthew Rose, that day was a game-changer.
In 1988, Ware, who is currently the vice chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Monticello College of Technology-McGehee (UAM-CTM), was the assistant director of Great Rivers Vocational Technical School. In March of that year, he was invited to speak to children at Wolfe-Kelly Daycare. While talking to the children about his career, he asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up. The usual occupations flowed from their little mouths: firefighter, police officer and nurse.
When Ware asked Rose what he wanted to be, Rose replied, “What do you do?” Ware did his best to explain student services to the children. “I tried to tell them about financial aid, record keeping and the like, but that’s not as easy as describing a police officer,” Ware said. When Ware finished explaining his job, Rose exclaimed, “I want to do what you do!”
For the first time for many of the children, including Rose, they saw a man that looked like them—Ware is African American—working a professional career job. Rose saw himself in the future. “I knew I wanted to work in an office atmosphere,” he said.
Shortly after that classroom talk, Erline Smith, director of Wolfe-Kelly Daycare, contacted Ware about bringing Rose to Great Rivers Vocational Technical School to visit Ware. “I was excited to see Matthew when he came to the school to visit with me that day,” said Ware. Rose immediately wanted to sit at Ware’s desk. “I still remember that day,” Rose stated. “I remember Mr. Ware telling us, ‘You can be anything you want to be, but one thing you have to do is go to school, learn your lessons and be ready for the world when you graduate high school.’” Flash forward 35 years and Rose has achieved great professional and personal success.
In 2001, Rose graduated from McGehee High School, where he was president of his senior class. He attended the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), where he majored in business with an emphasis in finance. “I wanted to be a lawyer growing up because I loved to talk all the time,” Rose said. “I had dreams of going to Yale or Harvard, but life had other plans for me,” he stated. Continuing his leadership roles, Rose was active as a student leader at UAPB. “I was honored to once again be the senior class president,” he said.
Rose graduated from college in 2005 and entered the workforce as an Arkansas bank examiner. He has climbed the corporate ladder of banking for 18 years and currently works for the Arkansas State Bank Department in Little Rock as a certified bank senior examiner.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything for Rose. That year, Rose’s mother and biggest influence, passed away. He decided to become an entrepreneur and founded RFG, LLC to help people make smart financial decisions about their retirement accounts. More than two years later, this small venture has blossomed into a highly successful business.
Rose said he still reflects on those early years of his life and what a blessing it was to meet Ware and get to see him at work. “It is important to have mentors like Mr. Ware and a big sister/mom-figure like Mrs. Hargraves (Elaine Hargraves, assistant vice chancellor of UAM-CTM),” he said. “From the ages of 4 to 18, I wanted to rush life. But as I grew into adulthood, I remembered the advice Mr. Ware gave us that day in school: ‘Take it slow. Don’t rush life.’”
Rose has lived in central Arkansas for most of his adult life. In 2016, he married Cornetha Rose and became the proud father of three wonderful children, ages 17, 20 and 25. In September 2021, the Roses had a baby, Matthew, Jr. The family currently resides in Benton, where Cornetha works as a teacher’s assistant at a childcare center and assists Matthew with RFG, LLC.
Rose’s goal in life is to reach the next generation, just as Ware did for him 35 years ago. As for Ware, he continues to inspire the next generation at UAM-CTM.