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Lyon celebrates graduates at first virtual commencement

Melanie Beehler, vice president of the Student Government Association, addresses her fellow graduates in Lyon College's first-ever virtual commencement ceremony.

Lyon College conferred 114 degrees on the 2020 graduating class at the 148th commencement May 16, the first-ever virtual ceremony.

Commencement speakers had one message in common for the Lyon College Class of 2020: keep moving forward in these uncertain times.

Senior class president Felicia Horn acknowledged that commencement looked different because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but she encouraged seniors to still treasure the milestone.

“This is no small feat, especially at Lyon where we were pushed to grow past all expectations… even the expectations we had for ourselves.”

While college experiences may become a distant memory soon, Horn said “their effect on our lives will be immeasurable.”

“I hope as we move forward all of us find our happiness in life and that we are never strangers. Lastly, I wish to say thanks for the memories. I am so grateful to have met all of you.”

Dr. Tami Bond, the Walter Scott Jr. Presidential Chair in Energy, Environment and Health at Colorado State University, gave the commencement address. She assured seniors that uncertainty is okay, especially during a global pandemic.

Bond received her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering when she was nearly 29, having left college the first time at 18.

“I did not realize that the best major I could have chosen was ‘Not today, thank you.’”

Although Bond has since received her master’s degree and Ph.D. and has become a professor, she admitted that she still has not figured out what she wants to do when she grows up.

“Since we’re in the middle of a pandemic, you have a lot more uncertainty than I did. Give yourself a break.”

Bond advised seniors that it is okay to grieve what they have lost. However, she said, they must keep moving forward.

“You don’t have to know what you want to do with your life, but you do have to know what you want to do next. Even if that seems hazy, do something. Follow your compass.”

Bond told seniors she was not going to give them advice on what to do next, concluding that drawing that map will be their “lifelong job.”

“It is a messy, uncomfortable, frustrating and joyous process. Graduates of Lyon College, congratulations on your achievement! We are all looking forward to seeing how you map this world.”


The following students were awarded Bachelor of Arts degrees:


Dawson Angeles - Batesville, Ark.

Cade Archer - Sugar Land, Texas

Brock Beacham - Malden, Mo.

Peyton Black - Crosby, Texas

Darby Blaylock - Fairview, Texas

Lauryn Bocox - Texarkana, Ark.

Devon Browne - Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Elena Cervantes - Fort Smith, Ark.

Deta Chappell - Corning, Ark.

Reese Chovanec - Magnolia, Texas

Vanesa Contreras - Yucca Valley, Calif.

Jordan Dabdub - Fort Smith, Ark.

Kayla DeMay - Fayetteville, Ark.

Evan Dobler - Rogers, Ark.

Mae Dyer - Texarkana, Ark.

Hailey Elmore - Jacksonville, Ark.

Judith Flores - Elmhurst, Ill.

Roger Gasmann - Little Elm, Texas

Emma Gillaspy - Conway, Ark.

Brandon Giribaldie - Willemstad, Curacao

Basil Gist - Pilot Point, Texas

Madison Grant - Batesville, Ark.

Navy Griffin - Sherwood, Ark.

Samuel Gunter - Gassville, Ark.

Nicholas Hall - Beebe, Ark.

Braden Hancock - Melbourne, Ark.

Karissa Harper - Enola, Ark.

Elizabeth Henderson - Newark, Ark.

Miguel Hernandez - West Memphis, Ark.

Jonathan Hicks - Sherwood, Ark.

Felicia Horn - Judsonia, Ark.

Jessica In - Lowell, Mass.

Trinity Ingram - Little Rock, Ark.

Raleigh Jeffrey - Batesville, Ark.

Brian Johnson - Jonesboro, Ark. 

Haley Johnson - Batesville, Ark.

Jared Jones - Batesville, Ark.

Kendra Kelley - Batesville, Ark.

Andrea Kuykendall - Batesville, Ark.

Joann Le - Batesville, Ark.

John Lemmel - Salem, Ark.

David Lewis - Batesville, Ark.

Madison Lewis - Batesville, Ark.

Olivia Lynch - Alpena, Ark.

Arman Mansouri - Wylie, Texas

Cole McSwain - Malvern, Ark.

Lindsay Moore - Mountain View, Ark.

Tiffiney Morris - Yellville, Ark.

Austin Murphy - Jonesboro, Ark.

Emily Neeley - Cave City, Ark.

Natalie Patterson - Batesville, Ark.

Iva Popović - Novi Sad, Serbia

Ryan Porras - Burbank, Calif.

Jared Puamau - San Bruno, Calif.

Duvan Ramirez Garcia - Medellin, Colombia 

Haley Reed - Batesville, Ark.

Guadalupe Reyes - Batesville, Ark.

Travis Reynolds - Conway, Ark.

Madison Riley - Judsonia, Ark.

Stanley Rousseau - Hot Springs, Ark.

Jesse Sampley - Shreveport, La.

Gianni Santin - Saint-Denis, Reunion Island

Andrew Schnitzius - Penn Valley, Calif.

Virginia Mohlke-Schroeder - Batesville, Ark.

Michayla Shanks - Republic, Mo.

Kristopher Shipp - Friendswood, Texas

Allison Shirley - Bradford, Ark.

Toni Simpson - Jonesboro, Ark.

Kristyn Skelton - Kennett, Mo.

Jason Smith - Zion, Ark.

Billy Stidham - Batesville, Ark.

Susan Sullens - Batesville, Ark.

Morris Watson - Saginaw, Texas

Kayli Womack - Lake City, Ark.


The following students were awarded Bachelor of Science degrees:


Joshua Abel - Jensen Beach, Fla.

Elizabeth Allgood - Little Rock, Ark.

Daniel Armstrong - Cabot, Ark.

Chase Baker - Batesville, Ark.

Kylan Barnett - West Palm Beach, Fla.

Melanie Beehler - Pea Ridge, Ark.

Jonathan Bentley - Houston, Texas

Jordan Bright - Tuckerman, Ark.

Kayla Calhoun - Shreveport, La.

William Clark - Batesville, Ark.

Taylor Dale - Batesville, Ark.

Elissa Douglass - League City, Texas

Evelyn Embry - Hindsville, Ark.

Dalton Ernest - Pittsburg, Texas

Linda Fowler - Sherwood, Ark.

McKinley Fox - Batesville, Ark.

Ayden Henry - Thayer, Mo.

Brodie Hill - Bentonville, Ark.

Reace Kinley - Bushnell, Fla.

Samantha McGillvray - Pleasant Plains, Ark.

Destiny Miller - Beebe, Ark.

Samuel Murfin - Kingswood, Texas

Oumy Ndoye - Dakar, Senegal

Sean O’Leary - Fayetteville, Ark.

Elizabeth Otis - Concord, Ark.

Gracen Ratliff - Batesville, Ark.

Jacob Reithmeyer - Memphis, Tenn.

Emanuel Santos - Betim, Brazil

Robert Shackelford - Smithville, Ark.

Joshua Sierra - Kingsburg, Calif.

Bradley Slaughter - Batesville, Ark.

Savannah Stull - Springfield, Mo.

Vinston Van - Batesville, Ark.

Rachel Vines - Yellville, Ark.

Bruce Whitehead - New Waverly, Texas

Jacob Wilson - Weeki Wachee, Fla.

Samuel Wirges - North Little Rock, Ark.

Candace Wong - Lepanto, Ark.

Ignacio Zuniga - Batesville, Ark.