Cara (Tomlinson) Butler, ’16
John Pruden, '21
Elissa Douglass, '20
Brandon Giribaldie, '20
Emma Gillaspy, '20
Sam Taylor, '20
Lauren Kuykendall, '20
Debjanee Protyasha Nandy
Harley Ward, '03
Francesca LoBianco, '15
Luke Shackelford, '20
Hannah Zang, '21
Angelica Holmes, ’15
Enid Olvey, '03
Dawson Angeles, '20
Gretchen Hall, '01
Victoria Hutcheson, '19
Lindsay “Charlie” (Hodge) Brink, ’09
Navy Griffin, '20
Mark Sparks, '97
Dr. Clare Brown, ’13
Jalesa Reed, '13
Liz Henderson, '20
Lacie Bray, '03
Dr. Wesley Beal, Associate Professor of English
Zachary Stewart, '19
The perfect graduate school program can be just down the road, or, in Sarajane Armstrong’s case, just across the ocean.
After graduating from Lyon College with a degree in elementary education in 2018, Armstrong completed her first year of teaching and started to look into master’s programs. She was not sure what she wanted to study.
“When I couldn’t find a major I liked in the states, I decided to search abroad,” she said.
Armstrong finally found the M.Ed. in children’s literature and literacies at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. The program appealed to her because her favorite course at Lyon had been children’s literature, and she had developed a love of traveling on her Nichols Trip to London and Oxford.
“I got my first taste of life abroad, and I was hooked,” she said, laughing. “It was just a plus that I would end up in the United Kingdom again.”
Living abroad for graduate school was a stressful decision.
“I am very close with my family and didn’t want to leave them,” Armstrong said, “but I knew that if I didn’t come here I would regret it.”
The process required a lot of research and planning to get everything in order, such as her travel visa and international health insurance. She received support from her friend Laura Spell, ’17, who studied abroad at Durham University in England, and Assistant Professor of Elementary Education Karin Brown.
“They both gave me great advice and encouragement through my application process. [Brown] always told me I can do anything I set my mind to.”
The stress was all worth it once she arrived in Glasgow.
“The atmosphere is similar to Lyon,” Armstrong said. “My professors are really nice and always there to answer questions.”
The children’s literature program allows her to set her own study schedule. There are tasks to complete, but none of the work is graded.
“It gives me a lot of room to focus on learning rather than worrying about finishing a bunch of graded assignments throughout the term.”
One of her favorite spots on campus is the library of children’s books in the St. Andrew’s Building.
“It’s very hidden away and cozy. There is a wall of windows where you can look out as you read. It’s a pretty magical place!”
Living in a new country has also been exciting for Armstrong. Going from small towns to the big city of Glasgow was an adjustment, but the community has been very welcoming.
“The saying here is ‘People make Glasgow.’ It reminds me a lot of Arkansas in that regard. I haven’t really felt the culture shock that people talk about.”
She has enjoyed exploring her new home and making friends from all over the world. The city center has shops with kilts and bagpipers on the street that remind her of Lyon, and she gets to walk through the beautiful Kelvingrove Park on her way to class each morning.
“I still haven’t gotten used to it. I hope it never gets old,” she said.
Though she hasn’t decided on a career yet, Armstrong’s major will allow her to pursue work in education, publishing, or library services.
She is paying her experience forward by being an e-mentor for her master’s program.
“It’s a platform for students to showcase their lives at university for people who may be interested in the programs we study. I’ve created a public Instagram and Twitter, and I post about the books I’m reading for my course as well as pictures from my travels.”
She advises other students thinking about studying abroad to research programs thoroughly and apply early.
“Don’t wait until you decide that you definitely want to go,” Armstrong said. “And always reach out to someone who has gone through the process if you’re unsure of something.”
Follow Armstrong’s overseas adventure at sarajane.elizabeth on Instagram and SEArmstrong18 on Twitter.
Hearing about the border crisis is not the same as experiencing it.
A service learning trip to the Mexican border not only allowed the Lyon College Presbyterian Student Association to see it firsthand but also to more fully comprehend the impact for asylum-seekers.
“I knew stuff was happening, but I didn’t understand what was really going on,” said senior Emma Gillaspy of Conway.
Led by College Chaplain Rev. Margaret Alsup, the students arrived in McAllen, Texas, on Oct. 31. After a worship service, the students chose from several different work sites along the border, including shelters, non-profits, and churches.
“I just wanted to be more educated about the situation,” said junior Elizabeth Daniel of Rogers.
The five students eagerly signed up to work with the Ozanam Center in Brownsville, Texas, which provides shelter and services to Central American political refugees.
The next morning when the students arrived at the center, they discovered a single room filled wall-to-wall with bunk beds. One of the center’s workers explained that although the center was meant to house 200, it had housed double its capacity for several months.
The students also listened to speakers from Puentes de Cristo, a non-profit started by the Presbyterian Church in McAllen which focuses its efforts on helping the poor and oppressed along the U.S. / Mexican border.
Junior Allison Mundy of Bryant said she then realized the situation at the border was not simply “everyone crawling underneath a fence.”
Unlike what they’ve heard in the media, the students said they learned that those seeking asylum don’t really find asylum when they are let into the U.S. Once crossing the border, they face extreme poverty, prejudice, and oppression.
“Most of the people I’ve talked to are here legally, but they live in fear as if they aren’t,” said Mundy.
She said she learned that what commonly happened in the Brownsville area was people were transferred from detainment camps to nearby towns with no resources.
“Towns of 200 have doubled overnight,” she said.
Daniel added, “These people aren’t coming over with malicious intent.”
“They just want a better life, and they want to do it themselves, but there’s a culture created where you need to have so many people on your side.”
Daniel said she felt sad not only for those crossing the border but also for Americans “letting hatred and fear stew in them” instead of opening their hearts to the asylum-seekers.
Meanwhile on the Mexican side of the border, Rev. Alsup visited a camp of 30,000 living in tents with just four portable bathrooms and three showers for the whole camp.
When Alsup entered the camp, a small child ran up and hugged her. His family followed and tried to tell their story with the help of a translator.
The child’s mother told Alsup’s group that she was scared her children would be taken away.
“People don’t let children out of their sight, just to make sure that they’re safe.”
Alsup also found that contrary to popular belief, American citizens living along the border want to help those trying to seek a better life.
“I never saw fear from people,” said Alsup. “If anything I see them living in hope and literally being the hands and feet of Christ and trying to make someone’s life better.”
The group is now ready to take action and raise awareness.
“I want to get the word out about what’s really going on,” said Gillaspy.
Junior José Balderas has already agreed to return to Brownsville in December to translate for Puentes de Cristo.
“I’m planning to come as much as I can,” he said. “I didn’t know the full situation, and this trip opened it up for me.”
Balderas also plans to spend his spring break helping pro-bono attorneys communicate with their clients.
Alsup added, “When you’ve experienced it, it’s never really gone from you.”
Not everyone celebrates turning 80 with an 80-mile bike ride, but for Lyon alumnus Larry Bentley, birthday bike rides have become a tradition.
While Bentley has always liked to stay active, he didn’t develop his passion for biking until 1985, when he broke his knee in a motorcycle accident.
“I used to run marathons. I ran about 12 to 14 marathons in my life, including the Boston Marathon twice,” Bentley said.
He enjoyed training every day in preparation for his next race but had to stop after his knee injury.
“The doctor said they had to piece my knee back together,” he added. “He told me it would be fine for running across the parking lot but I would never run another marathon.”
The doctor said biking, however, would be good for his knee.
“So I hobbled into a bike shop on the way home and bought a bicycle!”
Bentley has been riding bikes ever since. He said he isn’t sure where he gets his passion for staying active.
He said, laughing, “after breaking my knee, my first thought was ‘I can’t just sit around.’”
He now rides with a group of friends every Monday and Wednesday.
“We meet at 4:30 p.m. and do it all winter and summer. We’ve developed a camaraderie along with it. That’s the glue that holds the biking group together,” he said. “When you get texts that one or two guys are committed, the others think ‘Wow, they’re going to ride in this weather. Hell, I guess I will, too.’”
Bentley began a tradition of commemorating his birthdays with rides, but wasn’t sure if he would be able to this year after having open-heart surgery last November.
“I had to wait a couple of weeks to let everything heal,” he said. “Usually, I ride anywhere from 40 to 60 miles a week, but it took me a while to get back into the routine. I’m still improving and gaining progress.”
He and a friend departed from Marshall’s Dry Goods on Oct. 13 and rode to Tuckerman and back, a total of 80 miles.
After the ride was over, he showered and took his wife out to eat.
“I was dog-tired but not hurting anywhere. That’s the beauty of pacing yourself.”
Bentley continued, “Some days, the last thing you want to do is get on a bicycle. But after doing 20 miles, you feel better than you felt all day long. The lift it gives you is worth the pain.”
Bentley’s athleticism is what brought him to Batesville in the first place. He was recruited from Missouri to play basketball at Lyon College, then Arkansas College, in 1958.
“I played for a little over a year,” he said. “I was wanting to get a coveted degree in physical education. [Lyon] didn’t offer it at the time, so, after two years, I transferred.”
Although Bentley didn’t graduate from Lyon, the College had a huge impact on his life. It was where he met his wife, Martha Bentley.
“We had a dance in the Scot Shop,” he said, laughing. “We even had a band. The girls asked guys to this dance. Martha went with an old friend, and I went with a girl who invited me.”
“My date didn’t dance, and neither did Martha’s. She came over and asked me to dance, and we’ve basically been dancing ever since!”
Bentley graduated from college in 1962 and taught for seven years before getting out of education. He and his son bought Marshall’s Dry Goods in Batesville in 1984 and currently have 28 employees.
“I love Batesville. I don’t have any designs to live anywhere else.”
What do bagpipes and Greek life have to do with pharmacy school?
For Lyon College senior Daniel Armstrong, who just scored in the 98th percentile on the Pharmacy College Admission Test, they are part of the liberal arts experience.
While his courses prepared him for the PCAT and graduate school, his level of campus involvement provided him with the interpersonal skills necessary to succeed as a pharmacist.
Armstrong, of Cabot, is a chemistry major who balances school and drug discovery research with his duties as the vice president of Mortar Board, organizer of the LEAD Conference, and as a resident assistant. In addition to playing bagpipes in the Lyon College Pipe Band, he also just finished his term as Zeta Beta Tau fraternity president.
“My level of involvement is pretty unique to Lyon. What I really like about this place is that it has such a tight-knit community. That’s how I’m able to wear so many hats on campus,” he said.
Armstrong did not always participate in so many areas of campus life.
“I did not consider myself much of a leader my freshman year. I did what I needed to do, but I was mainly here for academics.”
He was drawn to Lyon College because of the Pipe Band. He had been inspired to take up the bagpipes after hearing them for the first time at the College’s Arkansas Scottish Festival and learned from a tutor in Little Rock.
“I had already been playing pipes since I was 11, so I thought I would come play here,” he said. “My involvement in student leadership kind of blossomed from there.”
At the end of freshman year, Armstrong applied to be an RA because he thought it would help him get better at talking to people and connecting with them, skills he would need if he wanted to do pharmacy in the future.
“After that, I started Greek Life, which helped me be a leader among a smaller group of people I knew. I think that helped me become more confident and step out to do stuff like Mortar Board.”
Though unsure what he would get out of Mortar Board, he joined the organization and was elected vice president.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” he said, laughing. “So far, I have taken charge of LEAD, a day-long leadership conference. It’s been a lot of work running around, trying to get other Mortar Board members involved, and scheduling faculty members to come give a talk.”
The LEAD Conference will be held Friday, Oct. 25, and is a way for Lyon faculty and students to share lessons in leadership with high school students.
“It’s finally coming together. I’m excited,” Armstrong said. “There are going to be a lot of talks about inspiring leadership in younger people, such as a talk focused on math confidence.”
To balance his academics with his many leadership roles, he keeps a planner and sets a dedicated time for studying.
“I try to make academics my priority. I study from 7 p.m. until whenever I’m done,” he said. “After that, I’ll worry about all the other aspects of college life.”
Armstrong said one of the biggest lessons he has learned about being a leader is to “always make time for yourself, no matter what you’re going through.”
“Last year, I took cell biology and quantum chemistry at the same time and was also involved in a bunch of organizations,” he said. “It was rough for a bit.”
“I found when I was able to put everything down and take a second to breathe and go do something I enjoy, like hanging out with my friends, playing video games, or playing bagpipes it helped me relieve the stress and keep everything together.”
His proudest accomplishment is the progress he has made in piping. He attributes his success to Director of the Lyon College Pipe Band Jimmy Bell.
“I think I was mediocre at best when I first came here, but [Bell] whipped me into shape really quick. I’m currently going to competitions, and I’ve been winning pretty consistently.”
He plans to attend the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences after graduation and pursue a career in pharmacy.
“My leadership roles at Lyon have helped me be better at connecting with people,” Armstrong said. “Having leadership positions gives you a better idea of what people are thinking and what’s going on in their head.”
“I think that’s really important for a healthcare career, and I’m grateful to have gained that experience here.”
New Zealand lived up to its reputation as “the adventure capital of the world” for Lyon students this May.
Professor of Political Philosophy Dr. Scott Roulier led 16 students on the New Zealand Nichols Trip, learning about the unique evolutionary history of New Zealand and how the country has adapted its laws to promote both environmental and cultural sustainability.
“Because of its isolation, New Zealand had tons of indigenous birds with no natural predators,” Roulier said. “As the Maori people, and later European immigrants, arrived to the island, they brought invasive species like rats and stoats with them.”
“These predators started killing off all the flightless birds. As a result, New Zealand developed a greater awareness and sensitivity to conservation issues and made more robust environmental laws.”
He said New Zealand has also worked to repair its relationship with the Maori people, returning at least some of the land and political power to the native tribes.
The group explored diverse landscapes and cultures, visiting the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, Cook Strait, Abel Tasman National Park, and the Milford Sound fiord.
Senior Gracen Ratliff said Milford Sound is full of amazing views, such as rainforests and waterfalls.
“My favorite sights were as we were dangling from the canyon swing in the Kawarau Gorge,” she said. “Literally everywhere we went there was something spectacular to stand in awe of.”
“Its nickname, ‘the eighth wonder of the world,’ holds true,” said senior Kendra Kelley. “The towering mountains made a 160-meter waterfall look small.”
Senior Riley Caraway said Milford Sound, the Cook Strait, and the view of Wellington from the top of Mt. Victoria were the most amazing sights on the trip.
“There was an abundance of amazing things everywhere we went. New Zealand has such a wide variety of landscapes, from tropical beaches with rainforests to the snow-capped Southern Alps that could be seen at any given time on the trip.”
While the students had studied New Zealand all semester, Caraway said “getting off the plane 8,000 miles from home and experiencing it all firsthand was a once in a lifetime experience.”
Kelley said getting a real life glimpse of Maori culture was very enlightening.
“It was special that they were willing to teach us the Haka and the Poi dance,” she said. “I saw how different yet similar people across the world can be.”
“We studied the culture before going to New Zealand, but it’s very different compared to what I’m used to,” said Ratliff. “They are very passionate about their culture, and it runs deep in New Zealand’s roots.”
“I found a new appreciation for my own family’s culture by seeing how proud the Maori people are of theirs,” said Kelley.
The students were also impressed with how the country made its environment a priority.
“It was inspiring to see even the small acts that New Zealand does to sustain their beautiful environment,” said Kelley. “Each rubbish and recycling bin in town was universal and clearly marked. On hiking trails, there weren’t any rubbish bins, which meant less chances for litter to be blown into nature.”
“All of the straws were paper, to-go containers cost extra, and toilets had the option for more or less water,” said Caraway. “Since returning home, I have been more conscious of this aspect in my own life after seeing how it can be a cultural norm with no problems.”
Roulier said one of the most unique moments from the trip was floating on inner tubes through a cave filled with glow worms.
“It was almost surreal. It seemed like the night sky, but you were in a cave. It was very cool.”
Although the Nichols Trip had a large group of students, he said their positive attitudes made for a successful journey.
“They were willing to engage with the trip at every stop. 16 students is a lot, but when you have a good group it works out,” Roulier said.
Ratliff said New Zealand is unlike anything she has ever seen.
“This trip definitely spiked my interest in traveling,” she said. “I hope to return someday.”
“Even with a 16-hour flight and travel complications, this trip opened my eyes to the adventure that awaits in this world,” Kelley said, “and I am ready to experience more.”
Lyon’s mascots made their mark during Homecoming and Family Weekend.
Junior Carson Matthews and sophomore Patrick Mitchell donned their kilts and war paint, and the Fighting Scots returned to the field on Saturday, Sept. 28, helping fans cheer on the Lyon Scots football team at Pioneer Stadium. The Scots won the Homecoming game against the Texas Wesleyan University Rams with a score of 53-45, breaking multiple records.
During halftime, seniors Ayden Henry and Kendra Kelley were crowned Homecoming King and Queen. The Zeta Beta Tau fraternity won the Greek Challenge, and the Kappa Sigma fraternity won the Legacy Cup.
Over 700 students, alumni, families, and friends of Lyon College gathered for Homecoming to share memories, enjoy family fun, tailgate on campus, and cheer on the Scots.
Director of Alumni Engagement Cindy Barber said every alumni event saw increased attendance over last year. About 90 people attended the Alumni Awards Banquet on Friday, and the Club 50 luncheon on Sunday was full, with about 45 attendees. The new Young Alumni Post-Game Party on Saturday drew in about 60 attendees.
“We had over 60 people at the All Alumni Gathering, with the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and the 10s all represented! It was incredible!”
The College got down to business on Friday with the Career Center’s Career EXPLO in Becknell Gymnasium. The all-campus career fair featured 20 businesses and nonprofits, 3 professional schools, and 29 graduate school programs for students to explore. EXPLO is a beneficial avenue for students not only to explore career options and opportunities but also to build their professional network.
"In keeping with the Career Center's mission of preparing students for life after Lyon, this event also aids in the clarification of career goals and helps students be more competitive in their future endeavors," said Assistant Director of Career Services Lara Lauterbach.
"EXPLO 2019 was a great success, and we look forward to hosting it again next year!"
Lyon later honored outstanding alumni and friends of the College on Friday with the Alumni Awards Banquet.
Lindsay “Charlie” (Hodge) Brink, ’09, and Dr. Chris R. Middaugh, ’09, received the Patterson Decade Award. Brink currently works for an NGO in Northeast Nigeria, conducting design research to inform programming aimed at building household resilience in conflict settings. Middaugh is a research biologist at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in Little Rock.
Jessican (Brents) Dunham, ’09, received the Decade of Service Award. Dunham is currently the director of events at EAST Initiative, an educational nonprofit headquartered in Little Rock.
G. Gene Crawford II, ’85, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Crawford is the president of the Trust Division of The Citizens Bank.
“I would like to thank the Lyon Alumni Council for this honor,” Crawford said. “Lyon College connected the dots of my life. Lyon is more than an education. It’s an introduction to community service and a challenge to make the world a better place.”
Admiral Robert Carius received the Honorary Alumnus Award. Carius served in the U.S. Navy for 34 years and was a member of Lyon’s science faculty for 10 years.
Ann Westmoreland Taylor, ’60, received the Lifetime of Service Award. She had a long career at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, first as the coordinator of the Arkansas Single Parent/Displaced Homemaker Program and later as an English instructor. She earned the Teaching Excellence Award in 1996 and was named Professor Emeritus in 1999.
“I feel honored and undeserving to receive this award,” Taylor said. “In Sept. 1956, my mom first brought me to this campus 63 years ago. My heart has been here ever since.”
The weekend closed on Sunday with the traditional Kirkin’ O’ the Tartans worship service and the annual Club 50 luncheon, which honors alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago. Dr. Terrell Tebbetts was named an honorary Club 50 member.
“Homecoming unites the past and the present, celebrates traditions and reminds all of us what a special place Lyon College is,” Barber said. “We hope everyone will make plans to attend next year!”
Cara Tomlinson Butler, ’16, received the highest score on the Arkansas Bar Examination.
Graduating from UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law in May, Butler took the bar exam this July and scored 351 out of a potential 400 points. A passing score in Arkansas is 270 or above.
Butler was surprised to see her name at the top of the list when results were released Sept. 9.
“I was just hoping I passed,” she said. “The bar exam is 12 hours, so you don’t feel good leaving it. You feel like you failed.”
“When I saw I had scored the highest, I was shocked honestly! I stepped outside and immediately called my parents.”
Butler credits the study skills she developed as an undergraduate for her success. While most law students focus only on test prep programs, Butler also utilized flashcards and memorization techniques to review her courses.
“I’m so glad I did that now. The most important thing is being able to retain the information and apply it.”
Majoring in English and economics at Lyon, Butler learned “how to study and how to write.”
Those skills were valuable for the bar exam, which is split into six hours of writing and six hours of multiple choice.
“Thankfully, I’d already learned how to process a fact pattern and apply the rules I know to hypothetical cases,” she said.
Butler is currently clerking for Chief Judge Lavenski R. “Vence” Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. She was the only one in her class to receive a federal appellate clerkship.
“As an appellate clerk, I usually review the record from the trial court, review the parties’ briefs to the court, research the applicable law, and draft a memo explaining my findings for the judge,” she said.
“I will do the clerkship for a year, and after that my goal is to work with some sort of governmental agency. That’s what fits me best and what I’ve enjoyed the most.”
Butler said she appreciates her Lyon professors, like Dr. Terrell Tebbetts, who challenged her as an undergraduate and stayed in touch, supporting her through law school.
“That’s so rare. You don’t hear about that from people who went to bigger schools,” she said.
“Lyon professors are tough on you and give you so much feedback because they want to prepare you for grad school. I’m thankful I went to Lyon.”
A Lyon junior gave back to the community while gaining career experience this summer.
John Pruden, of Allen, Texas, was accepted into the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) Scholars Internship Program and worked with the research and development lab at Hexion Inc. in Stafford, Texas.
Hexion is a chemical company specializing in thermoset resins. Pruden said the company makes specialty chemicals and sells them to corporations.
Pruden shadowed lab technicians, helping refine the synthesis of a surfactant, a compound that lowers the surface tension between two liquids.
“Soap has surfactants in it. That’s what gives it that lathering bubbly property,” he said.
Pruden also ran accelerated shelf life studies on different dispersion, the process in which particles of one material are dispersed in another material.
“We basically took those dispersions and stuck them in an oven to monitor their viscosity over time,” he said. “Every week, I would take viscosity measurements and try to correlate differences.”
“Our goal was to further refine the process by which we make those surfactants.”
Fortunately, Pruden had gained experience working with a variety of research instruments through his lab work at Lyon.
“We get a lot of hands on experience with (it), and I also became familiar with additional instrumentation through my internship at Future Fuel Chemical Company in Batesville,” he said.
“I was taught how to take viscosity measurements. I had never used a viscometer before working at Hexion, but I’d seen so much other instrumentation that it was really easy to figure it out.”
Pruden also coordinated a school supply drive with other interns. He worked with the Houston Food Bank and helped raise over $1,100.
“Houston Food Bank is a great nonprofit that provides food to people in Southeast Texas. They have a great program called Teachers Aid, which is a food bank-style school supply shop for teachers working in low-income areas.”
Working with the nonprofit was more effective than door-to-door canned food drives, he said, because Houston Food Bank can make up to three meals out of a $1 donation.
“Helping people is a huge thing for me. It’s difficult to feel like you’re helping people when you’re making soap … This was a way for me to help the community that had taken me in.”
Through the internship, Pruden learned that industrial chemistry is more results-oriented.
“In academia, we would try to publish a paper on why these different processes impact this specific reaction in this way. With industrial research, we wanted to find the answers not to be novel and publish anything but for practical reasons,” Pruden said.
As a chemistry and mathematics major, Pruden has discovered a new potential career path at Hexion.
“There’s a lot I didn’t know about how intense process research is. My pure chemistry background helped them, and now I’m definitely more comfortable in the engineering field than I would’ve anticipated.”
Pruden presented on his internship at Lyon College Career Center’s Summer Experience Fair (SEF) on Aug. 29, winning the first place Dean’s Prize of $1,000.
Jody Smotherman, ‘93, vice president of community engagement at White River Health System, served as an alumni judge at the SEF. He said all of the students represented Lyon and their work in impressive fashion, but Pruden stood out because of his professionalism and presentation skills.
“He was articulate in his presentation, professional in his demeanor, and demonstrated passion for his topic and work,” Smotherman said. “John’s ability to communicate a complex topic in simple and brief terms was particularly impressive.”
BATESVILLE, Ark. – "It's all for you, coach."
It started out as a simple, heartfelt expression of solidarity, but quickly took social media by a storm, grabbing the hearts and minds of people from coast-to-coast, while drawing national attention from major media outlets.
The expression sprang from what was supposed to be a scheduled day off for the Lyon College football team Monday, Aug. 26. The student-athletes were encouraged to use the day to prepare for their season opener this weekend against Missouri Baptist.
Instead, a group of about 16 players entered the football weight room, one-by-one, to shave each other's heads before making their way toward an office occupied by Kris Sweet, the team's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.
Sweet had been undergoing chemo-therapy treatments since the beginning of August. He was greeted with a heartfelt surprise while preparing for the game against the Spartans, as the players, one-by-one, hugged him and expressed their gratitude.
"It's all for you, coach," was all they said, as they bared freshly shaved heads.
One of the football team's managers, Jordan Davis, a Lyon College student, recorded the heartwarming gesture on video. The video (which can be seen below), was posted on the football program's Twitter account (@LyonScotsFball) and instantly went viral.
To date, the video has over 621,000 views on Bleacher Report's tweet and over 100,000 views on the Lyon College Football Twitter account. Several large market stations, including ABC News, CBS News, ESPN, CNN and Bleacher Report caught wind of the video as the post garnered national attention.
"I want this to be about the student-athletes we have in the program and the compassion they showed," Sweet said. "It is easy for people to give up faith in the younger generation. What these guys did meant so much to me."
Sweet told each player who came into his office how much he appreciated them.
"For them to do that was pretty impressive," he stated. "These kids will be successful. Not because of me, not because of the school, but because they are great human beings."
Several of the players spoke with CNN's Amanda Jackson on the phone on Wednesday about the gesture they performed for Coach Sweet. "We are doing something greater than ourselves by shaving our heads," said Moise Occulis, a sophomore offensive lineman.
"He goes to the doctor and then comes to coach," Malcolm Howard, a freshman offensive lineman, told CNN. "He pushes us to be the best we can be."
The act demonstrated that sports can be about so much more than game-day stats or which team takes home the win. It is about the bond between players and coach that brings an entire team together.
Sweet did not want his battle with cancer to be a distraction for the team, and said he is "doing well." He hopes his challenges with the diagnosis will be in the rearview mirror by Christmas.
Senior Elissa Douglass studied Spanish firsthand in Granada, Spain, this summer.
After attending a meeting about study abroad, Douglass, of League City, Texas, got in touch with Sol Education Abroad. Sol planned a two-week program in Granada for her and other students, organizing activities, arranging travel plans, and preparing them for the experience.
“While there, I got to go to Arab baths, tea houses, beaches, flamenco performances, flamenco classes, and cooking classes,” Douglass said. “It was incredible!”
She found the attitudes of people in Spain refreshing.
“Many things we consider a bit taboo in America are more widely accepted in Spain, and as a result I noticed those things didn’t seem to have as much potential for danger there.”
She and her roommates wanted to visit a “discoteca,” or dance club, one night and were nervous to ask their host mom, afraid she would think they came to Spain just to party.
“When we asked her, though, she basically said ‘Finally! We thought you all would never ask!’ She viewed it as something we needed to see to have a well-rounded experience. The environment always felt safe, and the people seemed very comfortable being exactly who they are.”
The most challenging moments in Granada were the most worthwhile, she said.
“Jumping off of a cliff into the sea, climbing up said cliff, going off of a hiking trail to find a waterfall, and speaking Spanish every day while being concerned no one would understand what I say all terrified me… but I ultimately enjoyed them the most.”
As a double major in Spanish and business administration, the trip was a chance for her to increase her fluency in the language.
“Lyon gave me the grammatical background that I needed while I was in Spain. It was really my Spanish professors who got me there in the first place.”
“I knew if I was going to major in Spanish I would not want to quit until I was fluent, and, although I’m still not nearly there, I have had great professors who have encouraged me when I got frustrated and felt like it seemed impossible.”
“Elissa has been an exceptional student since she arrived on campus in August 2016,” said Assistant Professor of Spanish John Herda, “and I am proud of her courage and intellectual curiosity. Studying abroad was always a goal of hers, and she has completed it successfully in Granada.”
Being immersed in the culture was a big step forward in achieving that goal.
“Of course I have taken a leap in my comprehension of Spanish,” Douglass said, “but, more than that, being in a different culture has expanded me as a person.”
Associate Professor of Spanish Dr. Monica Rodriguez said studying abroad provides students “with an inside look at Hispanic culture.” They have many opportunities for immersion, including sharing a meal with their host family, socializing with locals at a café, and going shopping.
“Everything learned in the classroom comes alive, and the adventure begins!”
Douglass said she is will be able to effectively communicate with a broader range of people when she enters a career after college.
“I plan to work in human resources, so I think understanding people is a critical part of the job.”
Douglass said she looks forward to traveling more in the future.
“Spain is definitely a hard place not to miss.”
Lyon College Honors Fellows got a behind the scenes look at Boston’s history this August.
This was the first domestic trip for the honors fellows program, designed to promote camaraderie between the fellows and provide experience in an urban environment. Associate Professor of English Dr. Wesley Beal and Professor of Political Philosophy Dr. Scott Roulier led 21 honors students to the city, where they were guided on historical tours by alumnus Brad Austin, ‘94.
Junior Sabrina Denmon said Austin did a great job providing historical knowledge and context during the tours of Boston and Salem. In fact, Austin went beyond what was just in the history books.
“He gave us details on the Freedom Trail that we wouldn’t normally get from a history book,” she said.
“There was one man, Lewis Hayden, who would give enslaved people clothes and get them out of the city. He even put gunpowder under his house and threatened to blow it up if people tried to take them back.”
Junior John Pruden said the fellows learned how a lot of African American history in Boston isn’t being told.
“You realize a lot of these tours are designed by white people for white people to promote white history,” he said. “This was my third trip to Boston, and a lot of the stuff Brad told me I was hearing for the first time.”
Pruden also appreciated how the tours focused on more than just famous figures from history.
“There was a big focus on the average person, which was cool because that often gets lost in history.”
Junior Melissa Elliott said the fellows got to experience many firsts on the trip.
“I’d never been on a plane before. The other honors fellows were great about giving me tips on what to bring and what not to bring.”
“The food was honestly my favorite part,” said junior Abigail Grimes. “We got to expand our culinary palate. We tried clam chowder, and Melissa and I went to Union Oyster House, one of the oldest restaurants in America, and tried oysters for the first time.”
“I’m going to miss the coffee in Boston,” Elliott said, laughing. “It was delightful.”
Denmon was excited to see Salem and visited a historical chocolate shop and printing office.
“I’m a history major, so the whole trip was really good for me. My favorite part of Salem was when we were wandering around the Federalist Dance Hall because they built the floor on top of springs. The whole group did a selfie where we jumped!”
Elliott was impressed by how forward-thinking the city was.
“Salem wasn’t caught up with its complicated history and the bad things that happened there. There was a focus on going forward that felt progressive.”
Pruden said he has traveled to Boston twice before, but this trip made the sprawling city feel small to him.
“After riding the metro myself, I started figuring out which line to take to the airport and which line to take to the hotel. I knew how to get where I was going, so the city felt within reach.”
“That makes me feel more confident about going to a big city for graduate school.”
Grimes enjoyed seeing the variety of cultures in Boston, including visiting ChinaTown and eating at a Taiwanese restaurant with the group.
“I didn’t realize there are so many different types of people in the big city, gathering together and living there.”
“It never felt like were were fetishizing other cultures on the trip,” Pruden said. “It was very respectful. I felt like we talked about history that mattered. In doing that, you’re going to get diversity because diverse perspectives matter.”
Having the freedom to explore the city helped the students learn to be more adaptable, he said.
“I enjoyed the freedom we had because if I had stuck to a rigid guideline I never would have experienced some things, like visiting an Irish Pub and talking about what made art meaningful with another fellow.”
“It showed me life isn’t as rigid as you think it is. When you take these things in stride, you can get a new perspective.”
A Lyon senior’s visit to the bank is adding up to accounting experience.
Brandon Giribaldie, of Willemstad, Curacao, is interning in the accounting department of Citizens Bank this summer. He assists with outgoing wire transfers and manages vendor payments among other duties.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” Giribaldie said. “Luckily, I’m used to covering a broad spectrum at Lyon. You’re always learning something new and getting a wide range of skills to help you out in the real world.”
He learned about the internship opportunity from International Student Advisor Joni Bube.
“I applied for it online and went in for an interview just like with a real job,” Giribaldie said. “It all worked out, and now I’m getting professional experience I’ve never had before.”
Bube said summer internships are a great way for students to satisfy the requirements of their curriculum while gaining work experience in their field of study.
“We are always grateful to local businesses who invest in Lyon College students through internship opportunities,” she said. “We are glad Brandon has this on-the-job learning opportunity at Citizens Bank, connecting the classroom to the real world and discovering that accounting is more than spreadsheets and financial statements.”
Director of Career Services Annette Castleberry said research has shown that participation in internships during undergrad helps students secure employment or enrollment in graduate programs within six months of graduation.
“Brandon and other students who pursue these opportunities will significantly increase their chance for success after college,” she said.
“International students who engage in internships through Curricular Practical Training during college increase their chance for success in finding employment in the United States.”
A double major in economics and business administration, Giribaldie said his bank internship will also make understanding new classes, such as money and banking, easier next school year.
“The classes and internship work together so well. I can use the experiences from one to build on my success in the other.”
Adillet Lindsey, accounting manager at Citizens Bank, said it was a pleasure getting to know and work with Giribaldie.
"He was always ready to learn and willing to complete each task assigned to him with a great attitude. We look forward to keeping up with Brandon after graduation and seeing what this young man will accomplish in the future."
Giribaldie said he is grateful to get an inside look at the world of banking.
“This is my first time working in an office environment,” he said. “The best part is that my coworkers are very nice and willing to help whenever I ask. I’m glad I got to have this opportunity!”
A Lyon senior catered to the needs of those in crisis this summer at a short-term mental health facility in Little Rock.
Emma Gillaspy, of Conway, worked with Dr. Melissa Zielinski at the Psychiatric Research Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Most of her work was with the crisis stabilization unit (CSU). Clients were brought to the CSU by one of the many mental health centers around the state or by a police department in the area, and Gillaspy was responsible for making follow-up calls to clients after they left the facility.
“We did follow-ups at 7 days, 30 days, and 90 days to check on their mental and physical health, along with any medical procedures or criminal activity since they were released from the CSU.”
Gillaspy worked with research project programs and helped make the follow-up process an online option for clients who wouldn’t answer the phone calls.
“Though I wasn’t able to talk face to face with those clients, I got to talk to a good amount of clients on the phone. Being able to see how they are doing and how they have progressed was super interesting to me. My favorite part was just being able to talk with them.”
Gillaspy came across Zielinski’s lab while researching potential internships.
“I would like to work in a hospital setting, and I thought this would be a good fit for the summer.”
She applied lessons from her psychology research methods class while doing online research at the institute. The follow-ups are based off surveys, said Gillaspy, and her courses provided background knowledge about what kind of survey she was inputting and why she was asking clients those types of questions.
She credits Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Rose Danek’s biopsychology class and Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Robert Miller’s abnormal psychology class with equipping her for the internship.
“It was helpful to have a basis on what mental health disorders were and the symptoms of those disorders. That way, I could have an idea before I called of what the clients were feeling and why the drugs they had taken affected the diagnosed disorder.”
Her experience will go hand-in-hand with the psychology internship class she will take this fall. Gillaspy said she used to think she would hate doing research as a career, but the internship has made her reconsider.
“It gave me a little glance at what research looks like and how it’s set up. It really got me thinking about doing my own research here at Lyon!”
The experience also showed her how much income can affect regular contact with mental healthcare, and tapped into a passion for helping those with limited access to it.
“It is so needed, and, without places like the CSU, they may never get the help or resources they need to get better,” she said.
A Lyon senior is getting a handle on human resources (HR) this summer at White River Medical Center (WRMC).
Sam Taylor, of Houston, Texas, is interning with the HR department to gain professional experience for his business management degree. Taylor files employee information, meets with different heads to find out more about their job descriptions, and attends meetings to discuss the promotion of certain employees, new employee orientation, 401K signup and usage, community services, and more.
“I’m sort of an odd job man so that I can get a proper feel for the day-to-day workings of an HR office,” he said.
Going into college, Taylor did not know the language or inner workings of an office other than what he had seen on television.
“I knew that was probably incorrect,” he said, laughing.
Taking classes like business law and HR management with Lyon’s business law professor, Dr. Leigh King, helped Taylor understand what it means to be a manager or HR employee.
“I came into my first day feeling like I could actually do well among the other professionals,” he said. “The number and files I’m looking at aren’t just another problem in a book. There are real meanings to the numbers, and I’m no longer working in hypotheticals.”
Through the internship, Taylor has learned how to determine pay for employees based off of schooling and prior experience to properly compensate them, how to respond to formal complaints, and the unique tasks working in a medical HR department entails.
“I’ve learned more about what nurses, doctors, and practitioners do and how to correctly assess them,” he said. “My favorite parts are the meetings and being able to feel as though what I’m doing is actually useful.”
Taylor said these experiences will help him do even better in his business classes this fall.
“I plan on using what I’ve learned to show my professors that I have a better handle on the business world,” he said.
The experience is also vital for his future career.
“I will not go into my first job feeling like a rookie,” Taylor said. “This internship will make me more useful to future employers and help them view me as an asset to their team.”
Senior Lauren Kuykendall is translating her Lyon experiences to her studies in Québec this summer.
Kuykendall is studying the French language at Université Laval in Québec City. To take full advantage of the opportunity, she is participating in workshops and group outings to experience Québec firsthand while strengthening her language skills.
“There’s never a dull moment since most of my time is spent going to class, studying, exploring the city, and getting to know the locals,” Kuykendall said.
Lyon’s French courses aided her in adapting to life in Québec. She knew what linguistic and cultural differences to expect thanks to Assistant Professor of Romance Languages Dr. James Martell and former Assistant Professor of French Dr. Brian Hunt.
“I owe my competence of the French language to them as well as my French-speaking friends on campus,” Kuykendall said.
She said it took some time to get used to the local accent.
“If you were to compare French in France to French in Québec, you’d notice a difference right away,” she said. “I believe it’s important to introduce yourself to new dialects and accents in order to broaden your knowledge of the language you study.”
Kuykendall has also enjoyed interacting with locals in Québec.
“Everyone is so welcoming and easy to get along with,” she said. “The culture is not too different from our own, but there are some subtle differences.”
“One instance of culture shock was when I discovered that people like to eat meat with maple syrup. It goes on anything here. Their love for it knows no limits!”
When Kuykendall returns to Lyon this fall, she plans to share her experiences with fellow classmates.
“I’m hoping that they, too, will pursue the opportunity to study abroad.”
Her goal is to become a multilingual translator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“One must be highly fluent in the languages they wish to work with in order to be considered,” Kuykendall said. “I understand that the best way to master a language is to immerse yourself in it.”
She studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a year ago and noticed definite improvements in her Spanish upon returning to Lyon.
“I’m hoping the same thing will happen to my French after this summer. There’s much more for me to learn, but I believe that studying abroad is an important first step in mastering languages.”
Lyon students celebrated the centennial of the Treaty of Versailles on their Nichols Trip to France and Germany, studying the causes and consequences of World War I.
The Nichols International Studies Program provides financial assistance to students so they can take two-week long Nichols Trips led by Lyon faculty, studying abroad while earning college credit.
Led by Associate Professor of English Dr. Wesley Beal and Assistant Professor of Romance Languages Dr. James Martell, the trip was designed to study and experience the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles, which brought World War I to an end when it was signed in June 1919.
The group began in Paris, traveled to Verdun and Strasbourg in northeastern France, and concluded the trip in Berlin.
“We got to see the living history in places like the Palace of Versailles and the Hall of Mirrors where the treaty was signed,” Martell said. “In Strasbourg, you feel the German and French influences. It’s a French city now, but the food is very Germanized.”
“By the time we were in Berlin, we were thinking more about World War II and the after-effects of World War I,” Beal said.
Most of the students had taken French courses at Lyon and got to immerse themselves in the language.
“They get this experience and get to practice the language, which increases their interest in it,” Martell said.
Raleigh Jeffrey, a French major, said the opportunity is what drew him to the trip.
“As soon as I heard that we were going to France, I was instantly on board,” Jeffrey said. “My favorite moment was having a picnic at the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. We found a great spot and visited about our goals for the trip overall.”
After each day of the trip, students posted reflections describing their experiences to social media, tagged #AllLyonOnTheWesternFront.
“The main goal was understanding the conflicts that caused the war,” Martell said, “and they got to reflect on how they can relate that to the present.”
“Seeing these places in person where the world wars actually happened was incomparable to anything I’ve experienced before,” Jeffrey said.
Visiting battle cities like Verdun was phenomenal, Beal said, because students witnessed the damage left behind.
“On the first day of what turned out to be a nine-month battle, Germany dropped 2 million shells on Verdun,” he said. “There are rolling hills formed by violent dents in the land, many of which are head-level.”
“It was surreal to see how the earth is still terraformed from the bombings that happened just over 100 years ago,” Jeffrey said. “That really humbled me personally.”
“Towns disappeared and not because they were abandoned,” Beal said. “They were bombed into nothing. There are no ruins left.”
For several students, this trip was their first time leaving the United States.
“These exposures to foreign language, urban environments, and dense public transit have a high impact for a lot of students,” Beal said. “That’s one of the great things Nichols Trips provide.”
Jeffrey said he left the trip with a better understanding of how World War I and II affected the cultures of France and Germany.
“The Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Berlin had the biggest impact on me,” he said. “A lot of the camp has been kept in tact, and it was very eye-opening.”
“They really saw the history of the area- how alive it was and, in some ways, how recent it was,” Martell said.
Sophomore Debjanee Protyasha Nandy had her day in court at the Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program this June.
Funded by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), the PLUS Program is a four-week, residential program at the University of Akron that provides an intense focus on the skills required to succeed in law school, the law school admission process, and a legal career. There is no cost to attend, and participants receive a $1,000 stipend, two free Law School Admission Tests (LSAT), and a free Credential Assembly Service (CAS) report.
Using the critical thinking and writing skills she developed in her honors classes at Lyon, Nandy took classes on criminal law, problem-solving, constitutional law, employment law, technology in law, and trial advocacy. She visited courthouses and met lawyers and judges.
“I went to a free legal clinic and listened to the clients,” she said. “I explored various career paths in law and learned about the law school application process and the LSAT. Overall, it was a great learning experience for me.”
Nandy, of Chittagong, Bangladesh, is a double major in economics and math. She said the PLUS Program helped her decide that she wants to attend law school after college.
“The staff and faculty at the University of Akron helped me with my personal statement, diversity statement, and overall law school application,” she said. “I experienced what it’s like to be a law student.”
“Interacting with lawyers and judges provided me with a foundation of study and experience that helped me determine the area of law I find most appealing.”
Despite scheduling classes from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, the PLUS Program made time for fun activities, like canoeing and visiting Cedar Point. Nandy said the most fun part for her was watching an actual court procedure at the Summit County Drug Court.
“I learned that courts are not only about punishing guilty people,” she said. “They actually help people by getting them into rehabilitation programs, and the honorable Judge Joy Malek Oldfield tried to understand what exactly was going on with the lives of prosecuted people.”
“My biggest takeaway was that law is not about putting people in prison. It’s about making society a better place.”
A Lyon alum may be crowned with an Emmy for helping Game of Thrones fans walk inside the world of Westeros.
Harley Ward, ‘03, of Little Rock, and his team at AT&T received an Emmy nomination for developing a virtual reality (VR) experience that allowed consumers to defend the Wall from the monstrous White Walkers inside Westeros, a fictional continent where most of the action in the series takes place.
“It was a 4-D experience, which means you had the full virtual reality experience, but you also had a moving floor and wind and heat that responded to the content,” Ward said. “As you lit a torch, you were blasted with hot air. When you killed the beast, the floor would rumble.”
The 4-D VR experiences were housed in AT&T’s two flagship stores in Chicago and San Francisco, and a truncated version with additional content was released on the VR app store.
Ward, creative director for retail innovation and store environment at AT&T, was shocked by the Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media within a Scripted Program.”
“This is my first time and my team’s first time being nominated for something of this caliber,” he said. “It’s a new world for us because we only recently started to work in retail experience designs tied to television and movie properties.”
“We worked with Game of Thrones for the prior season but not to this scale or volume. With this being the final season, we knew it was an opportunity to do something really impressive.”
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) accepted nine submissions for interactive media, and Ward’s project was one of three nominated along with “Interactive Fan Experience” for NBC’s The Good Place and Netflix’s Bandersnatch (Black Mirror).
Ward studied theater and French at Lyon. He started working for AT&T after college and has been with the company for 16 years now, moving up from sales to marketing to his current position as creative director for retail innovation and store environment.
“This job found me versus me finding it,” Ward said, laughing. “I took design classes in theater and thought that would take me down a theatrical path, maybe doing set design or costume design.”
Instead, he found a growing subcategory in experiential retail.
“I’ve been applying the ideas I learned in theater to this world of creating memories for consumers through conceptual interactive experiences,” Ward said. “We bring the magic to life by creating sets, creating environments, and creating moments.”
Consumers get to experience television shows, movies, and other environments firsthand through these exhibits.
“They’ve really blended the worlds of theatrical design, retail, and movie marketing,” Ward said, “and I’ve used my theater background to evolve and amplify that idea in a way that makes it interesting for the consumers.”
The interactive media award will be announced at the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards on September 14 and 15.
“This has been a dream and something I never would have thought would be possible,” Ward said. “It’s all a matter of having the right project, the right passion, the right people, and pushing what’s possible.”
Lyon College junior Kaleb Newcomb has lab skills in his blood.
Newcomb is interning with the medical technologist (MT) at Stone County Medical Center in Mountain View, and he says he now plans to pursue an MT certification after graduation.
An MT is a medical professional who tests and analyzes blood.
“My favorite part is preparing a blood smear and looking at it under a microscope and being able to see the different types of leukocytes,” said Newcomb.
The biology major says working with the MT in the hospital’s lab has also taught him how to operate several machines, including the chemistry analyzer, hemoglobin analyzer, and homeostasis analyzer.
“I have also learned how to prepare bacteria cultures [and] blood typing,” he added.
Newcomb finds lab work “enjoyable” and wants to apply to a medical laboratory science program along with his MT certification.
“I’m glad I’m getting to apply the skills I gained from my science classes in the lab environment,” he said.
A Lyon College education prepares students for the rigors of graduate school, even the long road to a double M.D.- Ph.D.
Francesca LoBianco, ‘15, said she was drawn to the physician-scientist program because it combines her passions for research and helping patients.
“When I was in a lab doing research for my master’s program, I missed the experience of interacting with other people,” she said, “so I thought ‘Okay. I’ll go to med school. I’ll try that.’ ”
“In med school, I realized that I missed the research—delving deep into and critically thinking about the material.”
The physician-scientist path seemed perfect, LoBianco said, because she could obtain her M.D. and Ph.D. at the same time. However, the program also meant eight years of graduate school.
Fortunately, Lyon prepared her for the challenge.
“Throughout my master’s program, the courses were not anymore difficult than a Lyon course,” LoBianco said. “I felt comfortable and like I could easily manage the course load and my research load, too.”
Lyon taught her skills in analysis and critical thinking that helped her obtain an M.S. in interdisciplinary biomedical science, she said, and finish her thesis project in two years.
LoBianco said Lyon also imbued her with a volunteer spirit that she has carried on in medical school at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).
“I’m constantly volunteering at the UAMS student clinic. I saw three patients last night, and it was great.”
LoBianco is even serving as the president of the American Physician Scientists Association (APSA) chapter at UAMS. She said the organization is vital because meeting other physician-scientists helped her realize the program was something she wanted to do and not just more school.
“Our meetings are about inspiring our M.D.- Ph.D. students because it’s such a long, difficult road,” she said. “It’s easy to forget your end goal when you’re bogged down in grad school with experiments not working.”
She has conducted research at the University of Illinois with Dr. Ron Gaba, sponsored by the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) Foundation. She is also conducting research at UAMS with her primary advisor Dr. Nukhet Aykin-Burns through the College of Pharmacy Division of Radiation Health.
Her research has explored radiation-induced liver diseases and how to prevent damage to healthy tissues when patients receive radiation therapy for cancer treatments.
“We cure your cancer, but then we hit a lot of normal tissue on the way, especially in the liver,” LoBianco said. “So we cured your cancer, but now you have fibrosis and liver sclerosis.”
“A lot of my research is focused on developing and classifying animal models for radiation-induced liver disease so we can work on therapeutic methods to relieve the damage to normal tissue.”
She will be presenting on her research experience at colleges this fall, potentially including Lyon.
“It would be awesome to present at Lyon,” LoBianco said. “There are a lot of great research opportunities I had absolutely no idea about as a student. I didn’t know about the M.D.-Ph.D program.”
Lyon produces excellent students who succeed in all sorts of things, LoBianco said, and she is excited to pay her own experience forward.
“Lyon really helped me realize my ability to connect to the community around me and succeed in school.”
Lyon students walked in the footsteps of historical figures and literary legends on the Nichols Trip to England this May.
Led by Associate Professor of History Dr. Edward Tenace and Associate Professor of English Dr. Helen Robbins as part of the Nichols International Studies Program, the trip was a chance for history and literature students to experience the subjects they studied firsthand.
The group visited London and four rural towns: Swanage, Whitby, Haltwhistle, and Haworth.
The emphasis was on the landscape, Tenance said, and the group explored how each region’s geography influenced its culture and history. From Haltwhistle, for example, the students hiked to Hadrian’s Wall and toured the borderlands between England and Scotland, where families subsisted by making raids across the border and stealing each other’s cattle.
“You get a sense of the foreboding landscape there because all the farms look like they’re fortified,” he said. “They’re constructed that way to defend against people trying to come in and attack them.”
Robbins said the trip features a lot of hiking to immerse students in the English lifestyle and give them a better sense of the land.
“The English do a lot more walking than we do,” she said. “There are some places with beautiful scenery you can find if you make the trek.”
“When you walk these places, there’s this sense of identifying with the past that you wouldn’t get by just being on a tour bus,” Tenace said.
Nichole Cook, ‘19, said she was initially terrified of all the hiking the trip would entail.
“What we call ‘hiking,’ the English just call ‘walking,’ ”Cook said, laughing. “All the countryside is connected with public walking paths, and we went everywhere.”
“I was so excited by all the scenery and sites that I made myself do it,” she said. “I’m so glad I did. The coastal walks were awesome, and we were literally walking along cliffs all the time.”
As an English major, she said it was exciting to read a novel like Wuthering Heights and then visit the moors in Haworth that inspired Emily Brontë.
“Seeing Whitby was a highlight for me because it’s the setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” Cook said. “I cried when we hiked it because it was so amazing to be there.”
“It lived up to its reputation,” said Tenace. “The area also has a lot of historical significance because the explorer Captain Cook was born and raised there and Whitby Abbey played a big role in converting Anglo-Saxons to Christianity.”
He said students came away from the trip with a better grasp of English culture and how different it is from region to region.
“We got into some interesting conversations in Haworth, which is very pro-Brexit,” Tenace said. “The political views are very different in each region, like if you were to travel to Oklahoma or California.”
One advantage for the students, he said, was that they had never been to a large metropolitan area like London before.
“Many of them got to experience public transit and flying for the first time,” Tenace said.
“They figured out the bus schedules in towns. They figured out the London Underground and how to get where they were supposed to be,” Robbins. “I was proud of them for adjusting so well to being in a crowded city.”
She said many students catch the “travel bug” after going on a Nichols trip.
“I know several students who went out of the country for the first time on a Nichols Trip,” she said, “and now they travel all the time. It has influenced their lives so much.”
“Coming back was so sad,” Cook said. “This was my first real time overseas. I’m going to save up so that I can travel again as soon as I can.”
Lyon students connected with classical artwork in an unforgettable way on the Nichols Trip to Italy this May.
Led by Associate Professor of Art Dustyn Bork, the students explored the aesthetics and culture of Italy, including sites such as the Colosseum and Vatican City, as well as original works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, and Raphael.
“Being able to see these preeminent works in person connects students to that history and the layers of culture that are thousands of years old,” Bork said. “The students get better at appreciating and critiquing the art and interacting with the culture at large.”
Junior Hayley Cormican said the most awe-inspiring moment was stepping out of the train station in Rome and immediately seeing the Colosseum.
“Seeing it for the first time in person, I knew I had chosen the right field of study for my career.”
Morgun Henson, ‘19, said her favorite sight was Michelangelo’s David.
“We had all seen multiple pictures, but there is no experience like seeing that in person! It felt unreal to see all of these things in real life.”
In the prerequisite course, each student picked an object or location they would be seeing on the trip and did a 15-minute presentation on it for their classmates.
“That makes seeing the art more impactful because they have that connection,” Bork said, “and students can ask that expert more about those pieces when we see them.”
Cormican said she had the chance to share her knowledge on Judith Slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi with other viewers.
“[Gentileschi] chose to depict artwork that made her voice heard, which was very controversial for a female artist at the time,” she said. “The piece is significant to me because it depicts the artist in the work. It was an unforgettable moment for me getting to share the story of a piece I am so passionate about.”
The local cuisine made an impact on the group, too.
“The food was amazing and affordable. It was basically Batesville prices for Italian cuisine,” Bork said. “We had the true Italian family-style experience with course after course and carafes of wine.”
“Eating there is more of an experiential thing as opposed to just a meal. You’re supposed to take your time, enjoy the food, and have conversations at the table.”
Cormican said students crossed a lot of items off their bucket list on the trip.
“It inspired me to have a deeper appreciation for the art I am blessed to study every day,” she said, “and made me more passionate about my future career as a teacher. The way [Bork] instilled his excitement for art in us truly rubbed off on me.”
Henson said she has never been “so moved” by artwork before.
“You can’t get a feel for the Sistine Chapel and the emotional and religious experience it has until you are in that packed, silent room,” she said.
Bork said several students developed a passion for traveling.
“The students were interacting with the works and really had their eyes opened,” Bork said. “They want to see more and go experience other cultures now.”
“Italy alone is a work of art. I have always dreamed of going there,” Henson said. “Now that I have been, I would love to go back.”
Cormican said she will never forget the artwork she saw or the memories she made with friends in Italy.
“It was the best trip ever. I am thankful for Lyon College most of all for providing these experiences for students, and I have never been more thankful to attend this school,” she concluded.
A Lyon College senior is finding the links between altered neural connectivity and neurological disorders.
Luke Shackelford, '20, is spending his summer in the University of Chicago’s molecular genetics and cellular biology department, researching neural development and how the neuromuscular system forms.
To study this complex system, the research team is using Drosophila melanogaster, a type of common fruit fly, as its model organism. Shackelford said the project will collect data from a number of scientific approaches, among them fluorescent imagery and neuron cell cultures.
“Through using these techniques, we hope to reveal important aspects of how brain cells locate and connect with each other and with muscle cells,” he said.
With a deeper knowledge of neural connectivity mechanisms, Shackelford said the research team hopes to increase understanding of neurological disorders that result from altered neural connectivity, including autism spectrum disorders.
He first became interested in scientific research when he joined Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Alexander Beeser’s lab as a freshman at Lyon. Since then, Shackelford has worked in the labs of other Lyon professors and spent a summer studying brain cancer resistance at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) through the IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE).
“It has been through those experiences and relationships that I was accepted into my current program at the University of Chicago,” Shackelford said. “My research professors, as well as the Lyon Career Center, were vital in helping me identify my research interests and prepare a successful application.”
He said the liberal arts education at Lyon taught him the importance of analyzing a problem critically, which is the very heart of scientific research.
“As a biology major with a psychology minor, I have taken a variety of classes which gave me a strong foundation to join a neuroscience lab,” Shackelford said.
“Whether it was something as simple as the structure of a neuron or as complex as the molecular mechanism that stimulates filopodia extension, my classes at Lyon have prepared me to approach a variety of neuroscience questions.”
Among the numerous benefits of research, he said building professional relationships is his favorite part.
“Working in a lab setting places you in a very close community,” Shackelford said, “where I have been able to connect with other undergraduates, Ph.D. candidates, and renowned professors.”
He said he has also formed lasting friendships with the other students in his program, discussing research proposals and exploring Chicago together.
“It is these many connections that I believe will have the most lasting impact when I leave,” Shackelford said.
“Having grown up in rural Arkansas, this was my first opportunity to live in a large city like Chicago. From my daily view of the skyline to mastering the subway, I have gained new experiences and perspectives that I will always carry with me.”
He said he can apply his research experiences at Lyon in two areas: academics and community.
For academics, he wants to apply the information he has gained when taking upper level classes and bring some of the techniques and skills into his research projects.
“I hope to give back to the Lyon community, which has given me so much,” Shackelford said, “by encouraging other students to pursue opportunities in their fields and making myself available to answer any questions or even proofread applications.”
Participating in research has given him a huge appreciation of the people who give their lives to science and unveiling the hidden mechanisms of the world.
“It has shown me how easy it can be to take for granted the information we have access to through a quick Google search,” Shackelford said, “when in reality it likely took someone’s dedication and hard work to provide us with the knowledge we have.”
“This experience has further confirmed my love for research and my desire to pursue research opportunities after I graduate from Lyon.”
A Lyon student is taking an in-depth look under the sea this summer.
Hannah Zang, ‘21, is conducting research with the IDeA Network for Biomedical Excellence (INBRE) at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. She said she is studying the function of a novel neuropeptide in sea anemones. Neuropeptides are small protein-like molecules used by neurons to communicate with each other.
“I actually did research for 10 weeks after my freshman year with Dr. Alexander Beeser at Lyon,” she said, “and our research was funded by INBRE. I decided to apply to the INBRE program this past spring and was accepted into a lab at UA.”
Through her research, Zang has been doing CRISPR injections, immunostaining, and polymerase chain reactions to edit genomes, detect specific proteins, and make copies of specific DNA segments.
“My favorite part is definitely learning new lab techniques,” she said. “Even with unexpected results, it’s like a puzzle trying to figure out where things went wrong.”
As a double major in biology and psychology, Zang credited her Lyon courses for preparing her for the rigors of research.
“I had some typical biology classes, like Principles of Biology II and Evolution, that really helped prepare me,” she said. “I was also surprised that one of my psychology classes, Sensation and Perception, helped me, too! It’s always great when things overlap with my different majors.”
Zang recommended current students visit the career center and their professors when applying for research projects.
“It can be a bit confusing to navigate writing personal statements and filling out applications for the first time,” she said.
“I hope in the fall I can tell students about my research in the Summer Experience Fair. I think every student should do research, even if they’re uncertain of their future career plans. Learning to think like a scientist is an invaluable skill that is necessary for all different types of jobs.”
Zang hopes to continue working on research projects in the future.
“Besides the numerous professional skills this experience has given me, it has also pushed me to try to incorporate research into my future career plans. I’m currently on the pre-med route, but I want to continue doing research after medical school.”
One of the first summer camps for black girls in Texas is being revived this year, and a Lyon alumna will serve as camp director.
Angelica Holmes, ’15, said Camp Founder Girls was founded in 1924 by a San Antonio woman to offer young women an outdoors experience, while gaining valuable life skills. After the founder’s death in the 1960s, the camp property was sold, and its legacy largely forgotten.
Alex Bailey, executive director of Black Outside—whose mission is “to provide transformative outdoor educational experiences to students of color”—came across the story of the camp while learning about San Antonio’s black history and brought Holmes onto the project.
Holmes said she will bring the leadership skills she learned at Lyon into her new role.
“I participated in a lot of things at Lyon that pushed me,” she said. “I was a member of Phi Mu and worked at Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) over the summer. That helped me see what summer programming looks like and gave me experience working with young people.”
The first year will be open to 30 girls and will run from June 17 through June 22. Campers will stay at Presbyterian Mo-Ranch Assembly near Kerrville, Texas.
“I have a really good staff,” Holmes said. “Most of them are also teachers and black women from the area. Obviously we do have different backgrounds represented in our staff, but, for the majority, we were intentional about getting women who look like our girls to be the leaders.”
She said this will help the campers feel comfortable and confident while pushing themselves into new experiences. San Antonio is the seventh-most populous city in the United States, and Holmes said many of the campers haven’t had the chance to leave the city and explore the outdoors.
“When you think of hiking, kayaking, or any type of outdoor activity, it’s not something you associate with black women. We feel disconnected from them and don’t feel they are necessarily for us,” Holmes said. “This camp experience is going to give [the campers] the chance to try a bunch of new things.”
The campers will participate in outdoor activities, a ropes course, swimming, crafts, team-building exercises, and an overnight tent campout.
Holmes said families are encouraged to pay what they can afford, part of an effort to include students from low-income backgrounds. Families that pay the full cost know they’re supporting another girl’s ability to attend.
Holmes said Lyon taught her the importance of opportunities like Camp Founder Girls through her participation in the Black Students Association (BSA).
“At Lyon, I felt like I was in an environment where I was a minority,” she said. “Having organizations like the BSA and having that safe space helped me feel connected to the Lyon community as a whole.”
Holmes said the goal of organizations like BSA and Camp Founder Girls is inclusion.
“You’re going to have a space where you can feel comfortable and confident being yourself,” she said. “There is a sense of affirmation you get just by being in the presence of other people like you.”
The camp is open to all, she said, but is designed around the black experience.
“It helps prepare campers for the specific challenges of being a black girl. In the San Antonio area, you’re a minority within a minority-majority group. It’s very difficult.”
Holmes said she wants to provide the kind of camp experience she would have loved to have growing up.
“When I was going to camp, no one ever explicitly told me ‘This isn’t for you,’ ” Holmes said, “but you kind of receive those messages implicitly when you don’t see any other campers like you or counselors who look like you.”
Holmes said she and the staff are looking forward to carrying on the camp’s original legacy.
“I think the fact that this camp is rooted in such deep history just adds another layer to it . . . It makes me really excited to be a part of this and really excited to instill those same values to the next generation.”
What started as a sorority fundraiser has become a lifelong career and passion for Enid Olvey, '03.
As the Vice President of Philanthropy for Arkansas Children’s Foundation in Little Rock, Olvey was introduced to philanthropy and fundraising when she was a Lyon student over 15 years ago.
“When I joined the sorority Phi Mu,” Olvey said. “I didn’t know it at the time, but the decision would lead me to a fulfilling career in fundraising through Phi Mu’s national philanthropy of choice—Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH).”
CMNH partners with children’s hospitals, and at the time, its only Arkansas partner was Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) in Little Rock.
“I became really involved with Phi Mu’s philanthropy committee, and we were raising funds for CMNH...So through that work I had the opportunity to partner with the fundraising team at ACH and was given exposure to fundraising as a profession.”
During that time, Olvey also became very “passionate and connected” to those she was fundraising for. She and her sorority sisters knew or had family members who had been patients at ACH.
“Because of my philanthropy work as a student, I knew that I was interested in fundraising and really wanted to work at Arkansas Children’s.”
The summer after graduating from Lyon, Olvey applied for and was offered an entry-level position at Arkansas Children’s Foundation, where she has been ever since. She has served as the VP of philanthropy for over two years.
“I work with generous donors around the state who want to make a difference in the lives of kids and who understand the vital impact of philanthropy on child health issues.”
Olvey also recently co-chaired the Woodmark Summit in Toronto, Canada. The conference is hosted annually by the Woodmark Group, a not-for-profit organization consisting of children’s hospitals in the U.S. and Canada.
“We shepherded the entire conference experience for more than 400 attendees—a record attendance number,” she said. “We hosted two and a half days filled with professional content, networking and learnings, especially in the ways we can be better partners and fundraisers for children’s hospitals.”
Olvey said besides the conference, one of her proudest accomplishments was being part of the team that opened Arkansas Children’s Northwest Hospital in Springdale. The hospital opened in February 2018, becoming Northwest Arkansas’s first and only pediatric hospital in the region.
“It’s not every day that you build a new children’s hospital. It’s not every day that you help create something that will make such a tremendous impact—not only for children today but generations to come,” she said.
Olvey’s fundraising journey has come full circle. She now serves as the philanthropy advisor for the Phi Mu chapter at Lyon.
“I have been incredibly impressed with the students I’m working with… It’s been a real joy to reconnect.”
She added that her Lyon education continues to help her today.
“Around the state, when you tell an individual you studied at Lyon College, it lands an impressive note,” Olvey said. “But the liberal arts also made an impact on me by exposing me to different disciplines and opportunities.”
“I have a unique opportunity to go to work every day for a mission I’m extremely passionate about—to champion children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow. I have this dynamic in my day-to-day life: I champion a mission that I love, and I spend time with incredible families who bring meaning to every philanthropic conversation and every dollar raised.”
Lyon student Dawson Angeles, ‘20, is spending his summer helping the homeless re-enter the workforce.
Angeles is interning for the Little Rock Compassion Center, an inner-city mission focused on giving hope and purpose to homeless, transient, displaced, and disadvantaged people in the Little Rock area.
“Right now, I’m working with a case manager,” he said, “and we’re developing a system to help the homeless re-enter the workforce. We’re creating a lot of the documents for the clients coming in.”
This includes writing the rules and regulations for documents like media and information release forms.
“We need to have their social security numbers and media and information release forms for the different programs we have available,” Angeles said. “We don’t have those documents, so we’re creating them and writing out the steps. We have certain programs here that the clients have to enter in to stay [at the shelter].”
He said he is helping clients create resumes and email accounts to begin applying for jobs.
“Eventually we’re going to host job fairs and networking events,” Angeles said. “We’re trying to meet with businesses and people first and let them know who we are and what we do.”
He continued, “I’m also helping update the technology and showing how helpful it can be to the center. I’m teaching basic stuff like appointment scheduling and online calendars.”
He said he came across the internship through Lyon’s career services, headed by Director Annette Castleberry. As a double major in business and economics, Angeles is putting to good use the knowledge gained at Lyon during his time at the Compassion Center.
“I’m teaching clients what I was taught,” Angeles said. “For example, in my Principles of Management class we talked about job interviews and resumes, so I’m reteaching that to the clients here. I am also putting my accounting skills to work by recording daily donations and expenses.”
Angeles is also taking what he has learned as an intern in Lyon’s marketing department and using it in the field.
“I’ve seen Lyon host several events and helped in the marketing department,” Angeles said, “so I’ve had that experience learning how other people go about making these events happen. I can apply that experience here.”
Through his work with the Compassion Center, Angeles is making connections with Little Rock employers that will serve him well in the future.
“I’m putting my name out there and creating a program that’s going to be here for a while,” he said. “I’m glad to be a part of it, and I can say I did something here and I changed something here.”
Angeles said the internship has already had a big impact on his life.
“I’ve never done social work before, especially in a homeless shelter. Everyone’s story is different,” he said. “I know that’s a super cliché thing to say, but it’s true.”
Angeles concluded, “Seeing what people struggle with here makes me more appreciative of what I have and what I’m capable of doing.”
I am the president and CEO of Noble Impact. We were founded in 2013 as a social entrepreneurship summer workshop for high school students. Today we are an innovation partner for schools, training organizations on how to create a culture that embraces change.
Before I answer this question, I can already visualize my classmates rolling their eyes, but I think the best thing I’ve accomplished since graduation is developing a love and habit for reading books. If you’re a Lyon student reading this, I’ll share an anecdote to prove my point. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were once asked what superpower they most wanted. After considering the question, they both agreed: “Being able to read super fast.” Every successful person I know is a voracious reader.
Before enrolling at Lyon, my résumé consisted of working in people’s yards for my dad’s landscaping company and lifeguarding. Thankfully, I was a decent soccer player and was recruited by Jeremy Bishop to join Lyon’s first collegiate soccer team in 2002. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was my first startup. Imagine being a high school senior having just won the state championship. You’re riding high and just added another trophy to a very crowded shelf. Your high school even invited the local news stations to cover your signing day. All is right in the world. Then reality hits you in the face. A team of mostly freshmen are going up against mature programs stacked with international players in the NAIA Conference. You finish your first season with 3 wins, 11 losses, and 0 conference wins. This situation is best articulated by the boxing poet Mike Tyson. “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Or as my grandmother likes to say, “I hope you enjoyed that slice of humble pie.” I’ve eaten a lot of pie since then, and if I continue down this path, I imagine more pie is to come.
You don’t have to have a personal relationship with someone to be mentored by them. I’ve never met Phil Knight, but I read his book “Shoe Dog” with a highlighter and pen. I’ve read countless articles about the history of Nike. If you’re intentional and studious, you can be mentored by anyone.
I double-majored in economics and English, thinking I was going to attend law school. However, an internship at the Clinton School of Public Service changed my perspective, and with it, my decided path. The most meaningful experiences from my campus involvement came from serving as captain of the soccer team and president of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. I never got around to starting the Terrell Tebbetts Student Fan Club, but it’s on my to-do list.
Gretchen Hall, ‘01, learned lessons in the classroom and on the basketball court at Lyon College that she has used to give back to both her alma mater and community through the years.
“I’m a huge believer in what sports can teach you off the court as much as on the court,” Hall said. “You learn about work ethic, teamwork, and communication skills.”
She applied those lessons to her career with the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau (LRCVB), becoming president and CEO in May 2011.
Hall said she credits Lyon for teaching her how to write better and be an effective communicator.
“No matter what field you go into that will benefit you,” Hall said. “I really learned how to articulate my thoughts at Lyon through all of my classes.”
She majored in business administration and economics, mentored by Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Mahbubul Kabir and former Professor of Accounting Dr. Alan McNamee.
“I always thought I was pretty good at math until I got to Accounting II,” Hall said, laughing. “It’s hard when you hit the peak of basketball season and travel a lot. I struggled a bit there, but [McNamee] was very good at helping me catch up.”
“I also dearly loved Dr. Mark Schram. He was a big supporter of our basketball team, so, even though I didn’t take very many of his biology classes, he was a consistent face. I felt like I had a special relationship with him.”
Hall has paid those experiences forward, mentoring local basketball players in Little Rock.
“My former high school coach convinced me to coach here,” she said. “She had a group of parochial kids that needed a coach, and she twisted my arm to do that.”
Lyon alumna Debbie Onukwube, ‘13, was on that team.
“Debbie was a raw talent and needed some direction,” Hall said. “Over time, she kind of became my child and would introduce me as ‘her second mom.’ She ended up earning a basketball scholarship at Lyon and kept the tradition going for our nontraditional family. That was a unique tie.”
Hall has also worked diligently to give back to the Little Rock community, including the $70 million renovation of the Robinson Center Performance Hall. She served on the team representing the City of Little Rock and the Little Rock Advertising & Promotion Commission, the owners of the facility.
The project took two and a half years to complete, and the performance hall reopened in November 2016. She said the facility is now bringing lots of additional events, activities, and people to Little Rock, which is creating a great economic boost for tourism.
Hall said the experience is one of the highlights of her career.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime project and became a labor of love,” she said, “even taking over my life for a while.”
“I had lots of personal and professional ties to that building. You naturally take ownership of a project like that and want to make sure it’s done right because it serves our community and benefits the local economy.”
Through her work with LRCVB, Hall became the first woman to solely receive the Downtown Little Rock Partnership’s Top of the Rock Award in 2017. She was recently named Tourism Person of the Year at the 2019 Henry Awards in February.
“That was awfully humbling because I know I was selected by my peers throughout the state to be honored,” Hall said. “That is one of the highest regards in our industry in this state.”
She said she is fortunate to have a career she loves.
“It’s important for everybody to find their niche and find something they truly enjoy doing,” Hall said. “I’ve truly been blessed to find a professional career that drives me every day.”
“We end up spending so much time at work, it makes it all the better when you enjoy what you do.”
After revitalizing the historic Coca-Cola mural in downtown Batesville as an undergraduate at Lyon College, Victoria Hutcheson, ‘19, barely had time to let the paint dry before she began her next mural.
Hutcheson was commissioned by the New Madrid Historical Museum in New Madrid, Mo., to create a 40-foot by 11-foot mural (below) for viewing from the Mississippi River levee. Starting on June 16, she began by sanding sections of the old mural where the paint was chipping.
“I painted the whole thing white and just started from scratch,” Hutcheson said. “I designed the mural to scale myself in Photoshop. That way, I could project it onto the wall and trace it to make sure my measurements were correct.”
Hutcheson has been filling the details in ever since. Rain has been a major obstacle, but she anticipates being finished by July 4.
This opportunity would never have happened for her, she said, if not for Associate Professor of Art Dustyn Bork’s murals class and her experience repainting the 30-foot by 90-foot Coca-Cola mural with fellow Lyon students.
“One of the museum board members saw the Coca-Cola mural we did with Dustyn,” Hutcheson said. “They realized I had experience with murals, and they knew I was from East Prairie, Mo., about 20 minutes away from New Madrid.”
The board member contacted her mom to see if Hutcheson would be willing to work on the mural.
“There was a mural on the wall which was very faded,” she said, “and they’d been looking for someone to redo it and put their own spin on it. I was experienced and local, so they reached out to me.”
Her work on the Coca-Cola mural and in her murals class prepared her for the project, teaching her the necessary techniques.
“It taught me how to judge how much paint I would need per square foot,” Hutcheson said, “and that I didn’t have to buy every single color. I learned that I can use a little bit of every color to make what I need rather than spending money to buy every individual color.”
Her hometown of East Prairie has also reached out to her about designing a mural.
“I’m in the process of getting another mural designed if I have time to carry it out,” Hutcheson said.
She will be moving to Tallahassee, Fla., in August to study art therapy at Florida State University.
“I’m supposed to meet with [East Prairie] after July 4 to get their ideas for the design,” she said. “Hopefully, that one will be my next project before I leave. I’ve had another person reach out to me to do another mural here in New Madrid, but unfortunately I’m just not going to be here to do it.”
Hutcheson said she has enjoyed the positive feedback from her work on the New Madrid Historical Museum mural.
“It’s been really cool. People are realizing I’ve come back from school and mastered this talent that’s not seen much around here,” she said. “That’s been a fun experience. People come up to me and say ‘This is really cool. We want one in our community, too.’ ”
“I love people wanting to get involved in art and see art in their community.”
Hutcheson hopes to complete the East Prairie mural this summer before leaving for graduate school.
“I would love to have that mark on my hometown,” she said. “I grew up there my whole life. I would love to be able to give something back.”
Lindsay “Charlie” (Hodge) Brink, ’09, has spent her life demonstrating the courage of her convictions. Currently in Nigeria, she has put her education to work helping those in need in some of the most dangerous places in the world.
“I’m working for a small, start-up NGO in northeast Nigeria, in an area affected by Boko Hiram and ISWA (Islamic State of Western Africa),” she said. “We work with communities to try to make them more resilient after conflict and violent events. We try to build strong communities.”
Before coming to Lyon, Brink had already been to sub-Saharan Africa and worked with orphans there. One summer while she was at Lyon she worked with teenagers at a Native American reservation in the western United States. She returned to Africa in the Congo region during her junior year and completed a research project for her religion and philosophy major, studying voodoo medicine and other religious issues, often in distressing or perilous situations.
“I have known Charlie for over a decade, since she took her first philosophy class during her sophomore year,” said Professor of Philosophy Dr. Martha Beck. “She is one of the most spontaneously compassionate and humble human beings I have ever met.”
Brink went on to complete her Masters of Social Policy and Evaluations from the University of Michigan while working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia.
“I remember she blogged about having to kill a poisonous snake in a hut before she could start a meeting,” Beck said.
Her next project was working on refugee resettlement in Seattle, and in 2015, she entered a public health innovation program, studying the topic of preventing infant sleep-related death.
Working with the Emeritus Dean of the School of Design at the University of Michigan, she began to design products for public health that aim to “provide dignity and equality.” She hopes to launch her own company, called Design for Dignity, to distribute these products. Her husband is in graduate school studying supply chain, and the two hope to work together on this business.
“I’m the ideas person, and he’s the logistics and details person. He went to graduate school to study a field that would support some of the skills that I lack for my business,” said Brink. “I design products that help restore dignity to people who have lost it through illness, marginalization, and displacement.”
Dr. Beck commented, “I have taught philosophy for over 30 years and have never had a student as internationally-oriented, as compassionate, and as holistic in her ability to ‘see’ all the systems underlying human culture as Charlie.”
Brink calls herself a researcher, and she utilizes all types of research in her work: academic research, applied research (monitoring and evaluation), and design research. Her future plans include launching her business and earning a Ph.D. in a combined field of social work and public health, and she hopes to be reunited soon with her husband and their dog.
“My goal, above all, is understanding people; I want to understand their context, connect with them, and help solve problems that affect them,” she said.
A Lyon student is making space on stage for diverse voices.
Navy Griffin, ‘20, enrolled in a summer internship with Pangea World Theater in Minneapolis, Minn., working directly under artistic director and co-founder Dipankar Mukherjee. Pangea illuminates the human condition, celebrates cultural differences, and promotes human rights by creating and presenting international, multi-disciplinary theatre.
“They’re all about inclusivity,” Griffin said. “It’s a lot of non-Western theatre and stories that aren’t really told in the classical theatre canon. It’s so cool. I love working here.”
She said Mukherjee co-founded Pangea with executive and literary director Meena Natarajan because he was tired of seeing stories on stage that didn’t represent him.
“So he made his own theatre,” Griffin said. “Pangea has done shows like Hmong Bollywood, a one-woman show telling the story of how this woman’s family immigrated from Vietnam and how she used Bollywood movies to cope with her broken-ish family. It was really neat.”
Pangea does not do any productions over the summer, she said, instead focusing on the National Institute for Directing and Ensemble Creation. The institute is committed to supporting the professional development of directors from underrepresented backgrounds.
“It helps bridge the gap for women, people of color, and queer people who aren’t normally seen as directors,” Griffin said. “So this institute helps aspiring directors learn about ensemble building and see the other styles of directing you wouldn’t normally see.”
The program attracts people from across the United States and the world.
Griffin said she is learning directing skills from Mukherjee.
“I really want to learn how he works with non-Western theatre,” she said. “He’s from India, and theatre in India is obviously not the same as theatre in America. I’m also learning literally how to run a theatre.”
Being a director is a balance of artistic skills and business, she said.
“I’m figuring out how much leeway a director gets between being a big artsy nerd and being a businessman.”
Griffin said her experiences in Lyon’s Holloway Theatre helped prepare her for work at Pangea because the program must operate within a fixed budget each year.
“You have to learn theatre by doing it,” she said, adding, “and I’ve done almost everything in our theatre department. That really prepared me to go into a real life theatre.”
Griffin said Pangea is also helping her build her fundraising skills.
“I’m getting to learn how the real world works,” she said. “In a school theatre program, you have a set amount of money. In this setting, you’re always running after money. I can bring back some of the fundraising skills that I’m learning.”
Pangea has “mission moments” where staff and cast members discuss the program and share the impact it has had on their lives to encourage donations.
“You talk about how the program has changed your life and then say ‘Please give us money,’ ” Griffin said, laughing.
Pangea also gives back to its community through programs like Lake Street Arts! (LSA!), working with “artists from East African, Latinx, and Indigenous communities along East Lake Street” to promote leadership and community development.
“They believe that the theatre is not just the theatre,” Griffin said. “Theatre includes the world around it.”
She said she hopes to use what she has learned at Pangea to continue uplifting underrepresented voices in her career.
“I want to show stories that aren’t normally told,” Griffin said. “I want the world to see what I see and not just [the same stories] they see every day.”
When Anderson Arias-Arana arrived in the United States from Guatemala in 2015, he was just 16 years old and spoke no English. Accompanied by a brother who had a job in a local factory, he left most of his family behind to pursue an education in America.
He enrolled in Batesville High School, setting the stage for a friendship that would lead to so much more than a high school diploma.
Enter Mark Sparks, ’97, who, in more than two decades as an advanced mathematics teacher, has achieved a remarkable reputation teaching what many students consider the most daunting of subjects.
“My goal is to use mathematics to teach my students how to think,” Sparks explained. “In five years, they won’t be using the math that they learned in my class, but I hope they will know how to think, analyze, and solve problems.”
But after a long career and many accolades, it is the connection made with Arias-Arana that bears witness to a lifetime of, in his words, “loving, caring for, and teaching” his students.
Sparks recalled seeing Arias-Arana, a shy student in a colleague’s class who was always early, so he made it a point to reach out and make him feel welcome.
“Every SINGLE day,” Arias-Arana, said laughing. “Here comes the teacher saying, ‘Good morning, Anderson, how are you?’ ”
About the same time, Principal David Campbell (father of Caitlin Campbell, ’15) helped create “Standing in the Gap,” a program that pairs a teacher with an individual student for one-on-one mentoring and support.
Sparks knew immediately who he wished to be paired with.
The two managed the language barrier with the help of Google Translate, and to this day, they only text each other in Spanish and speak in English. Gradually the mentoring relationship evolved beyond academics and became increasingly familial.
Now that Arias-Arana is able to travel back and forth to Guatemala to visit family, Sparks’ emotion became visible as he explained the unique bond.
“I tell him all the time that he is the son I never had, and he has enriched my life more than he will ever know.” Arias-Arana agreed, adding, “He is Dad.”
Arias-Arana completed four years of credits in three years and graduated on time, while working nights 40 hours a week, learning the English language, and earning his permanent resident status. Regarding future plans, Arias-Arana said he might work or join the military, but his preference is more academic.
“I want to go to college. I love it here and plan to stay here,” he concluded.
Special Assistant to the President and White House Deputy Press Secretary
My proudest accomplishment is that I have had the opportunity to serve the people of my home state not just once, but twice. First at the federal level in the U.S. Senate and second in state government.
The opportunity to serve the American people and the President of the United States every day right now is something I still can’t believe is real.
If you ask anyone who knew me in high school, I think it’s safe to say they would never predict I would be doing what I’m doing today. I was shy and lacked confidence. Attending Lyon helped me realize I could do things I never dreamed of and helped me come out of my shell. Having small class sizes forced me to not duck behind other students and avoid questions from professors. I had to be prepared with answers and engage in discussions.
Lyon also prepared me to think critically and differently. Whether it was Dr. Gitz’s Modern Russia course, Dr. Roulier’s judicial philosophy course, or Dr. Tebbetts’s Western Literature course (my only C at Lyon), each one had to have the same level of focus and determination.
Post-college life is not all about what you know, but about who you know. Use your degree from Lyon to make connections. Networking is key. Share a coffee with someone outside of the department you work in. Have drinks after work with someone in the same line of work but a different company.
We had a motto during the Lt. Governor Leslie Rutledge’s campaign I worked on in 2014—“do the work”—something the candidate, and now Lt. Governor, said all the time. I’ve kept that same motto ever since.
Double major in political science and history, Kappa Sigma Fraternity, College Republicans, Concert Chorale, Student Government Association, Model UN, Resident Life, Mortar Board, and Student Ambassadors
In everything you do, remember to be humble and kind. None of us got where we are without standing on the shoulders of others who sacrificed something for our benefit.
Dr. Clare Brown, ’13, was interviewed by CNN for her research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
For her doctoral dissertation at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Clare Brown studied the effect of Medicaid expansion on low birth weight and preterm birth. She and her colleagues found that the expansion improved disparities between black and white infants.
“Through Medicaid expansion, low-income women are more likely to have continual insurance coverage, [meaning] these women could potentially be healthier because of access to health services [before, during, and after pregnancy],” Brown said.
Brown defended her dissertation this past December and submitted her research for publication at the insistence of her advisor and co-author, Dr. J. Mick Tilford, UAMS professor and chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management.
A week after submission, Brown and Tilford “got really excited” because they had not heard back from JAMA, meaning the article had not been rejected but rather was being reviewed for publication.
On March 14, JAMA contacted Brown and Tilford to inform them their research was published. Brown recalls the day was “pretty emotional.” It was her late grandfather’s birthday, and Tilford has advised Brown since beginning her master’s in public health in 2013, so he, too, understood the importance.
“We both had a few tears in our eyes that day,” Brown shared. “Dr. Tilford had heard many stories about my grandpa, and he knew it was an emotional day for me overall.”
Brown said her interest in research began at Lyon when she conducted research outside of Mexico City with Professor of Political Philosophy Dr. Scott Roulier and psychology professor, Dr. Patrick Mulick. They evaluated the outcomes of ProSalud, a project aiming to prevent common diseases and reduce healthcare costs.
“That [research] really opened my eyes to evaluating public health and social programs,” she said.
When selecting a college, Brown could have been “in competition in other programs,” but she chose Lyon because she “loved the environment at Lyon and how close-knit of a community it was.”
Brown’s mother, Dr. Verona Bebow, family physician and also a graduate of UAMS, shared that Brown’s older brother attended Harvard for undergrad, and Bebow felt that Brown could have gone to a number of “elite” schools, but after visiting Lyon, she was decided.
“It turned out to be a great fit for her,” her mom said.
Brown’s father, Dr. Larry Brown, who has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Vanderbilt, said “I’d put Lyon up against Harvard any day. It was a great experience for Clare because of the quality of the classes and the faculty.”
Brown said her experience with faculty mentorships “translates to [her] teaching” at UAMS today. She helps her students with their research and tries to be readily accessible to them.
As for what’s next, Brown plans “to stick around UAMS and continue [her] research.” She is currently an instructor at UAMS.
Brown’s college within UAMS, the College of Public Health, has recognized that “this publication makes it the first time in history that a study originating in the College of Public Health has been published in JAMA.”
Brown graduated with her B.A. in psychology from Lyon College in 2013. She earned her MPH from UAMS in 2015, and she completed her Ph.D. in Health Systems and Services Research from UAMS in December 2018.
Even before the Arkansas Lymphoma and Leukemia Society (LLC) announced Jalesa Reed, ’13, as its 2019 Woman of the Year, she felt like a winner.
For starters, her son, Michael, is alive.
Diagnosed at three with leukemia, his body at age 5 has finally adjusted to the effects of his treatment, though he goes through rough spells, according to Reed, and will continue his daily regimen of pills until at least February 2021.
“But overall, he still goes to school, he gets to do fun things. I don’t think he realizes how sick he got. He’s a real champ,” she said.
When first invited to compete for the Woman of the Year designation, Reed wasn’t sure she was up to the task. Still, she and her husband knew the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society was a powerful ally to many families such as hers.
Ultimately, she heeded the phrase that “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.”
Indeed, Reed’s first financial goal was met almost immediately, so she quickly moved the marker up to $15,000. Through grassroot efforts and local fundraisers in and around the Batesville area, Reed exceeded her new goal well before the 10-week fundraising period was scheduled to end.
By the time the organization announced Reed its winner from among eight candidates during its annual gala on May 3, she had raised a whopping $68,509.
“My campaign has been built off a bunch of little things adding up; it has literally been $100 here, $1,000 there, all adding up to a grand total that is unbelievable,” she said. “It’s impressive to see what this town does when called upon.”
Spinal fusion surgery may sound like the devastating end to a promising basketball career for most people, but for one Lyon College athlete, it provided the impetus to forge ahead.
Junior Liz Henderson, who had the procedure in 2014, helped the Lyon College women’s basketball team reach yet another post-season appearance—that made eight in a row—earning more than 1,000 career points at Lyon.
As a high schooler, Henderson was shocked when the doctor diagnosed her with scoliosis during a visit to treat a bout of flu. Scoliosis is a sideway curvature of the spine, which is usually mild in children, but can become severe.
“We had no idea and hadn’t seen any signs,” she said, recalling her confused reaction.
Because her condition was far advanced, the family opted to have a metal rod inserted on either side of the spine to hold it together and encourage the fusion of old and new bone. The surgery was scheduled to avoid conflict with regular basketball season.
Henderson figured if she hadn’t noticed the scoliosis before, why would she stop playing now? She walked a mile within two weeks of surgery and started running earlier than anticipated.
“Positivity,” she said, “was key.”
“I put all my faith in God and accepted that [the surgery] was going to happen either way. I knew that as long as I relied on Him, I would be ok.”
Coach Tracy Stewart-Lange initially approached her about considering Lyon’s basketball program when Henderson was just a freshman in high school.
Two years later—after the back surgery proved successful—Stewart-Lange offered Henderson a spot with the team. The option to remain close to family and also play her beloved sport was “the perfect combination.”
Henderson, an Elementary Education major with a minor in Physical Education, said her academic pursuits are a great way to combine her interest in teaching with her love of children.
As for basketball? There’s still one more season to come see Henderson cap off an already excellent career before she graduates in May 2020.
Arkansas State Crime Laboratory as a Forensic Toxicologist
I have worked the streets of Little Rock on the ambulance for two years as an EMT (emergency medical technician), done research at UAMS (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences) for a short period of time, found a career that I absolutely love at the crime lab with the some of the most amazing coworkers, I have purchased my first home, and I adopted Tally, my furbaby.
My undergrad didn’t just teach me academics. It taught me life and how to cope and to manage.
I would tell them to be patient. Things happen in due time. I was sure of the path I wanted to take, and I ended up taking a completely different one and am in a great place. Let go and let God. Lyon gave them the resources they need to be successful.
“If you don’t know, ask.” and “If you’re serious, be persistent. Don’t give up.” - Dr. Mark Schram
Biology major and Spanish minor Phi Mu, Supplemental Instruction leader, Chi Beta Phi, Sigma Delta Pi, and Student Government Association Vice President
Lyon College provided me with a great education that was well-earned, and I made relationships in those four years that will last a lifetime, and I am forever grateful for that. I always look forward to returning to campus as an alumna.
Lacie Bray’s journey to a successful career brewing craft beer began in a dry county.
Lacie, ’03, first developed her relationship with Lyon when she attended Lyon’s Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) summer program. While a college student, she was involved in Student Activities Council’s outdoor programs, which led to her desire to “just be outside.” She traveled to Colorado in the summers and studied abroad in Ecuador.
After graduating with her degree in biology and Spanish, Lacie continued seasonal work as a rafting guide in Colorado, eventually earning her wilderness EMT license. After transitioning to experiential outdoor education programs around the country, she met her husband, Andy Coates, and they decided to try to find something they could do together. Lacie’s journey to brewing began.
Director of Alumni Engagement Cindy Barber sat down with Lacie to get the full story.
It’s a convoluted story. We moved to Denver, and Andy found work at a local brewery. It was really hard packaging line work, minimum wage, and he would work 12 or 13-hour days and come home soaking wet. But he loved it! During that time I applied for and was offered a Teach for America position in Chicago. So we moved there, where I taught high school environmental science, and Andy went to brewing school and worked at Goose Island Brewery. After a couple of years, we still weren’t sure what we wanted to do and we weren’t really tied to anything, so we took a year off.
We then headed to South America. We were sitting in a little internet cafe in Peru, looking at brewing laws in all the states we had lived in and Andy suddenly said, “Arkansas...that’s where we need to go.” At that time, there were only three breweries in Arkansas and it was ranked 48th or 49th in breweries per capita. But the laws were extremely favorable.
So we looked at the demographics of northwest Arkansas, and with the economic climate and the college nearby, there were a lot of people moving into the area who had beer cultures. With my family here as well, it was a good fit. We moved back in 2010, and I taught biology at a local high school while Andy worked on the business plan.
We officially opened in 2013, and moved to our current location in 2017. My son, Truitt, was born five months after we opened! Our staff has grown from just three in the beginning to eleven full-time and five part-time employees. Having worked seasonal jobs for a long time, we wanted to create a business with a communal sense; we know how important it is, and we especially want to support our staff. We pay a living wage that is well above industry standards, not just in Arkansas but across the United States. We pay 100% of health insurance costs and have paid time off for all full-time employees. We know that for us to be successful, everyone who works here needs to be happy and successful as well.
We produce four core beers that are sold in cans year-round, plus the small batch beers that are the fun projects. We produced 4,201 Beer Barrels (bbl) last year, and each bbl is 31 gallons of beer. We sell about 8% from the taproom and 92% to bars/restaurants and liquor stores.
We get to go out and forage for materials and experiment with flavors and brews. Our time on an organic farm in South America gave us an appreciation for the land and the materials that come from it. We have gone to my family’s farm and made a shag bark beer out of shag bark hickory, we have used paw-paws in our beer, and we’ve partnered with other area farms for things like blueberries. It’s really paramount to who we are as a brewery. We want to incorporate all things Ozark.
We established the brewery in a previously dry county, so we were always very aware that we would be creating our own beer culture. It was very important for us to establish ourselves as a family-friendly business that was welcoming to everyone. We wanted a taproom for the community it provides. Breweries host fundraisers, become meeting places, event centers, and a place to be social with others. We host a book club, a knitting club, and we have a play area for children. There are no TVs in the taproom, and picnic tables encourage communication among customers. By encouraging a communal feel and welcoming families, the social aspect of the taproom is emphasized well above just the drinking aspect, and it becomes a welcoming place for the whole community.
Lacie and Andy welcomed Truitt’s baby sister, Kit, in November 2018.
Owner and Pediatric Dentist at Tooth Be Told Pediatric Dentistry in Batesville, Arkansas
I attended University of Tennessee (UT) Health Science Center in Memphis, Tennessee, where I received my D.D.S., as well as awards from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Association of Women’s Dentist, and the American Association of Prosthodontics. After graduating from UT, I was accepted into the pediatric dentistry program at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania, where only two residents are chosen each year. I also was chosen to serve as chief resident of my program while at Geisinger. Once I completed my pediatric dental training, the opportunity to return to Batesville and open the only pediatric dental clinic here arose. This has definitely been my top accomplishment since I graduated from Lyon College.
Lyon definitely prepared me for everything I encountered in my professional studies. I think the education at Lyon provided a solid foundation to build upon. Lyon also helped me to develop proper study habits and self-discipline prior to entering dental school.
Never stop pursuing your goals and dreams no matter how far away they seem. With faith and self-discipline you can achieve anything.
One quote that stuck with me throughout my training was “Whether you think you can or can’t, either way you are right.” I have found no matter how hard the challenge or task, the power of a positive attitude goes far.
Biology with a minor in psychology
During my years at Lyon, I was very involved with Alpha Xi Delta, Mortar Board, and the Alpha Chi Honor Society. I also served as a mentor for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization.
I feel fortunate to be back in Batesville and to be able to give back to the community that I fell in love with during my four years here. Not only have I returned, but I also have two Lyon graduates, Ashley Andrews of Missouri and Dr. Lauren Teachout of Jonesboro, working with me in my dental practice. I think this speaks volumes about the impact Lyon has on students’ lives and for that I cannot say thank you enough!
It never got old taking the #10 green minibus to campus.
I’d catch it from a stop just below our flat, looking out over the container ships trundling about the Pearl River Delta as I waited. We would pass the school where my son practiced kung fu, climb the hillside where rows of headstones faced the sea, test the transmission through a tight, winding passage of low-rises, and finally gain Pokfulam Road, the thoroughfare that passes the university.
The bus took me to campus, but it was the Fulbright Program that brought me and my family to Hong Kong. I had proposed to study at the University of Hong Kong (H.K.U.) to better understand higher learning in the U.S.
As with almost everything else in the Special Administrative Region, H.K.U. is a unique place. Roughly western institution, mostly eastern student body, a city still contesting the legacy of “the handover” of 1997—the setting was conducive to thinking through my research on the campus novel, and moreover, gauging my own blind spots about what we do at places such as Lyon.
The fact that Hong Kong’s universities—among them some of the highest regarded research institutions in the world—would look to the U.S. to renovate their catalogs is telling. Some of the programs are such good replications of the American curriculum that we might benefit from studying their designs. The system of major study, core, and distribution that typifies American universities and especially our liberal arts colleges is one of the greatest resources of our country. It also reveals a sad inversion: a high degree of esteem for the American liberal arts abroad, and declining public trust and investment in the liberal arts at home. To understand why our tradition is so effective and imitable, I had to learn and study in that setting.
Some of the first advice people gave me to prepare: beware, H.K.U. students will be uncomfortable with open discussion, have them work in groups to ease tension between individualism and collectivism. I was also told students may not speak at all during class out of deep respect for the instructor. And if they do speak, they may tell you what they think you want to hear—a kind of “uncertainty avoidance” more common among mainland students but also noticeable in the Hong Kongers. In other words, the polar opposite of an American liberal arts classroom when it’s firing on all cylinders.
I suppose we didn’t really talk about the liberal arts model so much as we modeled it during class. Lots of open questions, some student-driven discussions, the stuff that passes around here for routine. A few students had the liberal arts in mind, I think, as we made our goodbyes. One student thanked me after a final class for taking her ideas seriously. About grading, another remarked, “Not many professors will give us comments back every time!”
Those comments made the Fulbright adventure worth it. That and the dim sum. And Courtney’s excitement at seeing the Tian Tan Buddha. And ferry rides to fishing villages. And watching our son navigate us through public transit. Oh, and that time I tried snake penis liquor. And...
Two years ago, Zachary Stewart, ‘19, was a nursing student at a state university with a need for stout coffee. Now graduating from Lyon College with his B.S. in business administration, he’s opening his own coffee shop in Batesville, Nova Joe’s.
Before transferring to Lyon to play football, Stewart discovered a drive-through coffee shop that served as the inspiration for his business.
“I actually started working with them to originally open [a coffee shop] as a franchise,” he said.
That changed following an entrepreneurship class in which the final exam was a business pitch competition hosted by Enactus, an on-campus entrepreneurship organization. Local investors came to hear the students’ pitches, which proved pivotal.
“It helped me really realize that [Nova Joe’s] was actually achievable,” Stewart said. “[During the pitch,] I had three or four people say, ‘what’s the benefit to [a franchise] as opposed to opening your own?’ Unless it’s a big brand… It [isn’t] really that big of a payoff.”
Soon after, one of those investors, Frank Tripp, called Stewart to offer land and materials to help build the business.
“A week later, I called him back and said ‘I want to do this,’” Stewart said, whose first order of business was to secure a loan from First Community Bank in Batesville.
“When I went to the bank, and I told them I was from Lyon, you wouldn’t believe the difference that made,” he said.
Then, with the help of Lyon’s business law professor, Dr. Leigh King, Stewart finalized Nova Joe’s LLC on March 14, and construction began in April.
Stewart has not only started his own business, but he is also building it.
“I asked [Tripp] for a timeline and it was way off, and I said, ‘well, what if I came and helped?’ I would like to try and open more in the future if I could. If I can go ahead and learn how to do this, I can do it myself.”
Nova Joe’s will have two windows, serving two cars at a time. However, Stewart plans to incorporate line-busting, a concept he says is not seen anywhere in town.
“If there’s a long line, we’ll send people out like three cars back, so we can actually do four cars at a time,” he explained. “Nobody else in town currently does that.”
Stewart wants to be involved in the community, and Nova Joe’s is his way to help out. He plans to serve coffee at Southside and Batesville football games, donate to the schools’ band programs, and hold later hours during college exam weeks
Lyon is more than just a college. It's a community distinguished by its academic curriculum, unique honor and social systems, and award-winning professors.