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Lyon student pairs passions for art, theatre despite pandemic

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic limiting internship opportunities, senior Bethany Stubbs has found a way to combine her passions for art and theatre at Lyon College this summer.

Stubbs, of Greenbrier, completed a work-study program with Visiting Professor of Art James Berry at the Kilted Kiln, Lyon College’s pottery studio, in June and began working with Visiting Professor of Art and Theatre Maggie Gayle on set design in July.

The COVID-19 pandemic altered Stubbs’ original plan to find an internship somewhere in Arkansas because most were no longer available. Fortunately, Berry had spoken to her earlier about needing somebody to work in the Kilted Kiln this summer.

“This is my first experience with ceramics,” she said. “He’s teaching me a lot, and most of what we do is pretty basic stuff.”

Stubbs said she and Berry spend a lot of time reconstituting clay by soaking dried clay in water and combining and layering it with other types of clay.

“You mix it all together and get reconstituted clay, which is really good for throwing on the pottery wheel and creating slabs to make mugs with.”

Her main job in the studio was making mugs and jars with the Lyon sigil on them for alumni.

“It’s honestly really nice and very relaxing,” Stubbs said. “It’s nice to get your hands dirty, like when we play with muds as kids. This is like the adult version of that.”

She enjoyed getting experience working in the art field.

“I’ve worked in food service and things like that, but I really wanted to try my hand at something that makes sense for my art major.”

After her work-study program concluded in June, she began working on the set design with Gayle in the Holloway Theater for Crimes of the Heart, a production the Lyon Theater Program was originally going to perform in the 2020 spring semester.

Crimes of the Heart, by Beth Henley, is about three sisters who find themselves back in their family home in Mississippi in the 1970s after the youngest sister shoots her husband and goes on trial for attempted murder. Stubbs said the female-driven show is a dark comedy, featuring serious themes in a relatable way that makes people laugh and cry.

“We had to kind of redelegate it to the fall semester because of COVID-19,” she said. “As soon as we get back to school, we’re basically going to have to hit the ground running.”

Stubbs continued, “We’re going to have pretty much two weeks to put everything together, so we have to have all of our stuff ready before school starts.”

While putting a show together in three weeks is not ideal, she said the theatre department has done it before.

“Realistically, that is how it happens in the real world for career theatre people,” she said. “They do put shows together in three weeks and they do get it done.”

Stubbs continued, “That’s going to be super valuable for us to get experience in.”

To make productions safe for audiences during the pandemic, she said the Holloway Theater will introduce more seating on one side of its stage so that people can spread out more.

She is helping Gayle build the set and working on costuming as well. They have simplified the set due to the time constraints. 

“I’m helping out because I’m here this summer and didn’t have a work-study job this July. I figured I might as well do something.”

Stubbs continued, “I think scenic design is probably the field I will go into in the future, so it’s like water off my back to always help with the set.”

While she has always been interested in theatre, she didn’t know if she wanted to pursue a career in the field when she first came to Lyon.

“When Maggie got here, she introduced me to scenic design and presented that as a possibility for me.”

As a double major in art and theatre, scenic design seemed like the perfect way to combine her passions.

“I realized the possibilities for me career-wise in that area,” Stubbs said. “It just seemed like the best way for me to continue my love of both arts in a way that cohesively puts them together.”

at Thursday, July 9, 2020

A Message from Joey to Students

The following message from President W. Joseph King was sent to students on Wednesday, July 8.

Dear students,

In a time of many unknowns, I want to offer you these certainties.

First and foremost, we care about you. Ensuring you receive your education in a safe environment is our primary concern. Administrators and I have been working constantly to develop precautions and protocols that can make this happen. 

The Lyon community is an integral part of the Lyon experience, and no matter what happens this school year, you are still a part of this community, and you will still reap the benefits.

Pandemic or not, you have access to Lyon College faculty and staff that care for you and want you to achieve, and they will not stop. 

Dustyn Bork is still painting murals; Dr. Daniels is still giving pep talks; Dean Mulick still thinks he’s funny; Sway Ankton is still coming up with fun student activities; Danell Hetrick is still training SI leaders; Tony Roepcke is still coaching; Dr. Irosha is still conducting research… They are all still here for you.

Whatever this year’s circumstances bring, do not underestimate the value of the degree you are working towards. We may have to give up some events and activities, but we are not giving up our commitment to providing a quality liberal arts education.

A Lyon degree will always carry merit. Our extensive alumni network is one of many advantages. Every year, our community hears about a graduate’s successful job application or graduate school interview, and how attending Lyon set them apart from the competition. 

When we come out of these unusual times, you will have the prestige of persevering, as is the Lyon way.

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing more plans for this school year. I thank you for your patience. Please know you are our top priority.




at Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Wu researches amphibians to understand human diseases

Junior Hannah Wu, of Cabot, is expanding her research experience in Lyon College’s lab this summer.

She is working with Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Maryline Jones to study Ambystoma mexicanum, a type of salamander known as the Mexican axolotl. 

Wu and Jones are using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qpcr) and immunostaining to identify osmoregulatory proteins and the expression and location of those proteins in the aquatic salamanders. Osmoregulation is the process of maintaining salt and water balance across membranes within an organism’s body.

“Gaining more knowledge about which proteins are involved in osmoregulation will help us be one step closer to understanding human diseases that involve water and ion uptake,” Wu said.

She said Lyon is currently raising over 100 axolotls in the lab.

“There is definitely a lot of work that goes into this,” Wu said. “Processes like mRNA extraction, DNA amplification and purification and histology take a lot of concentration and patience.”

She continued, “However, when the results show that I did a process correctly, it makes me feel like all the hard work and frustration is worth it!”

This is Wu’s second summer conducting research. During the summer of her freshman year, she conducted research in Bethesda, Md., with Dr. D. Scott Merrell, ’92, at the Uniformed Services University.

A double major in biology and psychology, Wu said many of her courses at Lyon, such as Principles of Biology II and Cell Biology, have prepared her for her research experiences by enhancing her understanding of DNA, proteins and other cellular components.

“You don’t realize how much you know until you actually put it to use!”

Courses like Organic Chemistry have helped her identify many of the chemicals being used in the labs.

“Performing microbiology research allows me to integrate the many skills and knowledge I have learned,” she said. “The classes at Lyon are rigorous, but if you take the time to learn the information that is being provided to you, you will walk away with knowledge that you will be able to use wherever you go.”

Wu hopes this research experience will expand her knowledge of axolotls and the different types of proteins that are involved in their ability to osmoregulate.

“On a larger spectrum, I wish to walk away with the ability to think critically and attain the ability to come up with research questions and how to answer those questions.”

She plans to continue doing research at Lyon for the next two years and attend medical school after graduating.

Wu’s favorite part of research is the opportunity to learn new skills and information on a daily basis.

“Knowing that the work I am doing now will impact the future and help solve unanswered questions is so invigorating,” Wu said. 

She concluded, “I am honored that Dr. Jones provided me this opportunity to change the world. I know I play a very small part in the science community, but I hope that my part will be advantageous.”


at Tuesday, July 7, 2020

My COVID Semester Abroad

Raleigh Jeffrey, '20, shared his experience studying abroad in France during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read it here:


The decision to study abroad during my final semester as a student at Lyon College was a difficult one to make. The reason being that I would not be able to partake in any of the graduation festivities and ceremonies that my fellow graduating classmates would be able to participate in. I figured that, being so enthusiastic about my chosen major in French, the tradeoff between spending 6 months studying and traveling in France and that of being present for my graduation would be worth it. However, never would I have imagined prior to my arrival in France that my experience there would be so vastly altered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic from that which I had pictured in my mind.

The first months of my stay were surreal. Having the opportunity to finally put to use all of my hard work that I had committed to learning the French language as best I could in rural Arkansas, I was ecstatic to be comfortably living among and communicating with a completely different culture of people. Moreover, having a significant other who is a French native makes the immersion in the language and culture that much more meaningful and effective. The teachers at the Centre de Français Langue Étrangère (CFLE) university in Poitiers, France, were some of the most enthusiastic teachers that I have had the pleasure to learn from thus far in my life. The way with which they embrace their foreign students as well as their level of patience with us made the learning experience extremely comfortable and fluid. With a multitude of varied activities, I was able to quickly make friends among my fellow students. It was with these fellow students whom I would come to work with in improving my understanding of more than just French culture, as they all came from their own unique part of the world as well with the same goal in mind. However, had I known that our time together would have been cut short I would have tried to make more plans with them and strengthen our friendships even more. As I was preparing to return to my apartment after my weekly weekend visit to my girlfriend and her family, President Emmanuel Macron came on the television with an announcement. This announcement would bring with it the grave news that, as a result of the pandemic, the country of France and its inhabitants would enter a state of lockdown with a tentative date of conclusion but would ultimately be indefinite. We were given a few days by the government to do anything outdoors that we needed to get done before the lockdown took effect. Shocked and trying to process the news, we began saying our goodbyes to my girlfriend’s family before returning to my apartment in Poitiers for the duration of the confinement. During the following days, we stocked up on food and supplies at the grocery store, which had already nearly been completely cleaned out by other preppers. Once the lockdown had gone into effect, we were required to carry a sort of permission slip with us, stating our reason for being outdoors, lest we risk being issued a large fine by the police. The teachers from CFLE reached out to all of the students to check in and see how we were doing, as well as to organize how we would continue classes by using whatever methods possible given the current state of things.

Although I was worried about the repercussions that a forced lockdown would have on those who needed to work, the beginning of the confinement was fairly easy in my case and even somewhat relaxing, needing not worry about the outside world but instead spending time reading, watching a series, and just working on my assignments. My classmates, teachers and I met via video conference three times per week for several hours at a time. There, we would go over relevant topics and continue our studies as best we were able. We had hoped that classes would resume before the semester ended. Unfortunately, however, the date when we would be allowed to freely go outside was pushed back time and again. By the time that we were released and able to go outside without the need of a permission slip, the semester had ended, we had finished our final assignments for the university, and most people had given up hope that we would be let out before at least mid-summer. My girlfriend and I had begun to become comfortable with a daily routine limited to the four walls within my small apartment in the city center of Poitiers. Never did I think that I would miss the countryside so much as I did.

We were finally released from the lockdown one week before my lease on my apartment ended on June 5, 2020. With new regulations that require the wearing of a mask in the majority of stores, we have entered into a time during which we must conform to a way of life that I had previously never given much thought to. So much has happened in the world since my arrival in France on December 26, 2019. I had arrived with a picture-perfect mental image of how I had imagined my time here would play out. I had planned to visit so many historic and beautiful places. The silver lining in all of this is that I did in fact improve my level of French exponentially as a result of the relationships that I made with new friend’s and also with my girlfriend’s family. In addition, while I was not able to completely experience the beautiful country of France in the way that I had initially imagined, my experiences and interactions with the people of France have created a yearning to return that I will forever have. Nonetheless, despite all that has happened during this strange time, I am happy that I was able to spend my last semester as a student representing Lyon College in France. 

at Monday, July 6, 2020

Two Lyon students receive Alpha Chi scholarships

Two Lyon College students have received competitive scholarships from the Alpha Chi National College Scholarship Honor Society.

Ellie Embry, ’20, of Hindsville, received Region II’s Joseph E. Pryor Scholarship. This $1,000 scholarship is presented to a graduating senior who plans to pursue full-time academic work in graduate or professional school the following year.

Senior John Pruden, of Allen, Texas, received Region II’s Edward W. Gaston Scholarship. This $1,000 scholarship is awarded to a junior who plans to continue full-time undergraduate work in the following year.

Alpha Chi is a coeducational academic honor society that accepts only college juniors and seniors who place in the top 10% of their class from all academic disciplines. Alpha Chi’s Region II includes Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

Embry was surprised to receive the award.

“I wasn’t initially announced with the rest of the scholarship winners, so when I was emailed a month or two later by Dr. Allyn Dodd telling me that I actually had won it definitely was not expected.”

She plans to use the scholarship to cover some of the costs of moving to Oregon to attend Pacific University and get her doctorate in clinical psychology.

“Driving up to Oregon is no small task, so anything that I can get for the move helps a ton.”

A double major in biology and psychology, Embry submitted her project investigating the effects of Vitamin E on rat behavior following injections of aggregated amyloid-beta, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, into the hippocampus.

She plans on becoming a neuropsychologist and working in geriatrics.

“I’ve always been interested in studying the brain,” Embry said. “It’s insane to me how quickly and intricately it works with the rest of the body.”

Neuropsychology interests her because she will get to see how changes in the brain can affect everyday life and hopefully find out why people are experiencing those effects.

“Using neuropsychological testing to diagnose is like putting a complicated puzzle together,” she said, “but when everything fits, it’s so satisfying.”

Embry has loved working with the geriatric population ever since she worked as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in an assisted living center her first summer of college.

“Everyone was so friendly and grateful for the help, but they were also just appreciative of the company.”

She continued, “I hope to have an impact on individuals and their families. Being able to diagnose different dementias is a heavy task, but being able to put a name on what the individual and family have been experiencing can bring ease to a situation.”

Pruden was excited when he learned he had received the Edward W. Gaston Scholarship.

“I was in the car with my sister and screamed,” he said, laughing. “She thought something bad was happening and pulled over.”

Pruden also received the James G. Stemler Study Abroad Scholarship for $2,000 from the Alpha Lambda Delta national honor society and the Ronald Reagan Leadership Scholarship for $1,000 from his fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon.

He plans to use these scholarships to study abroad this fall at the Université de Poitiers in Poitiers, France.

“I am so excited to explore all of the regions of France,” Pruden said. “French culture is so deep and expansive.”

A double major in chemistry and French, he submitted his work on optical deficiencies using an industrial optical bench to Alpha Chi.

“Optics is the study of light,” Pruden said. “I looked at how light passes through materials. I wanted to focus on optical aberrations, which is a fancy way of saying how lenses differ from ideality.”

He is interested in becoming a patent attorney because he enjoys learning about a lot of different fields.

“That’s what brought me to a liberal arts institution,” Pruden said. “I like when I get to use knowledge from many different fields, and I feel like patent law and intellectual property law in general falls right there.”

He believes science is important but cannot remain in a vacuum.

“In order for it to have any impact, you have to connect it to society in some way if you want to generate global progress.”

at Thursday, July 2, 2020