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
A Lyon senior’s design has been selected for Independence County’s bicentennial coin.
The coin commemorates the 200th anniversary of the county’s founding, which was established in 1820. Batesville was established in 1821, and it is the oldest existing city in Arkansas.
Samantha Long, a fine arts major from Cave City, created the coin’s design based on her own interpretation of what Independence County Judge Robert Griffin had requested.
The front features a Native American based on the Cherokee tribe as a nod to Arkansas history and a steamboat as an homage to Independence County’s beginnings as a trade area. The back of the coin features a glimpse into modern-day Independence County, showing local farmers and businesses coming together while Independence County grows in the background.
“I felt that it was very important to incorporate farmers into the design because our community has so much to thank them for,” Long said.
She continued, “My brother gave me the idea to have them shaking hands, as a way to show the two coming together to help build our community.”
Professor of Art Dustyn Bork had approached Long about submitting a design. He told her it would be a great way to gain experience for her fine arts major.
“This is an excellent example of a Lyon student seeing their design come to fruition in a tangible way,” Bork said. “What an awesome opportunity for Sam and to celebrate our community.”
“It’s honestly an honor to be selected for something so important!” Long said. “I couldn’t believe it at first, and I did feel a bit anxious during the process.”
She concluded, “But by the end of it, I was very proud to have had the opportunity to leave my small mark on Independence County.”
Riot Games has offered Lyon senior Zach Ward a job before he even graduates.
Ward, of Russellville, will work as an associate software engineer for the video game developer in California.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “It took a weight off my shoulders that I didn’t fully know was there.”
Ward first became familiar with Riot Games through a summer internship from late June to early August. He worked for a data engineering team of about 20 people that focused on multigame data analysis. While the company’s premier game is League of Legends, he said, Riot Games is “a multigame studio.”
“Our job was to find how we could analyze these games compared to each other,” Ward said, “but also provide deeper analysis into the games themselves.”
The team tried to collect data in a way that could be used to make better informed business decisions, he said.
“With most fields, you don’t really get to do research as part of your daily job,” Ward said. “A lot of that is segmented off to the academic side of every field.”
He continued, “With tech, it’s not really like that. We’re doing research and development every day. That’s something I’m really looking forward to with the job.”
Ward will get to work with the same team from his internship when he starts his new job after graduation.
“I had done work previously as a solo developer, so it was a new experience to work as a team,” he said. “I really enjoyed that.”
Before his summer internship, he had assumed he would attend graduate school after Lyon. He had wanted to work for a game company when he was younger but never expected that he would make that dream a reality.
“Honestly, I found the internship on a whim,” he said, laughing. “I had wondered if [Riot Games] had summer opportunities and found out they did.”
Ward worked with the Lyon College Career Center and faculty on interviews, essays and recommendations for the internship.
“It’s all that stuff that helps set Lyon students apart,” he said. “The level of care staff and faculty put into their students is really astounding.”
Ward did not expect to get the internship with Riot Games, much less a job.
“It is rewarding to know that all the hard work I’ve put into my academics and making myself the best kind of person and student I can be is starting to pay off in a pretty big way.”
Ward plans to relocate to California to start his new job after graduation. One of the things he is looking forward to the most is Riot Games’ fully subsidized coffee bar for employees.
“I drink a lot of coffee, so I’m really excited for that,” he said, laughing. “I’m excited to work as part of a team again, too.”
Ward concluded, “I really believe in Riot’s philosophies of how they approach building their games and approach interactions with the community. I’m excited to grow and be a part of that while trying to have my impact on it and help make it better in any way I can.”
Lyon students (from left) Catalina Terlea, Hannah Walz, Timmy Tignor, Juli Howard and Lillian Sullivan created a quilt block mural with an 'Oak Leaf' pattern for the Arkansas Quilt Trails.
Thanks to a group of Lyon students, Batesville and Independence County will be included in the Arkansas Quilt Trails for the first time.
Catalina Terlea, Hannah Walz, Lillian Sullivan, Mercedez Christian, Timothy Tignor and Juli Howard created a quilt block mural with an “Oak Leaf” pattern. The quilt it came from is located in Lyon College’s collection in the Mabee Simpson Library.
“It has local significance and, based on the appearance and condition, is from at least the 1930s,” said Professor of Art Dustyn Bork. “The Oak Leaf pattern it was based on was popularized in the mid-1840s.”
According to its website, Arkansas Quilt Trails was started as a way to preserve local history while beautifying Arkansas communities for residents and visitors alike. Quilt blocks must be painted on wood surfaces and sent to the county coordinator, who gets approval from the state committee.
Once a county has 12 approved blocks installed, a signed owner agreement and a story submitted for each block, the pieces are added to ArkansasQuiltTrails.com.
Lyon alumni Amy Howard and Terri Crawford at the Independence Regional Museum originally reached out to Bork to see if he would be interested in doing a painting of a quilt from their collection to become part of the Arkansas Quilt Trails.
While working with them on the quilt mural based on a “Carolina Lily” block quilt from the 1860s, Bork and Jessica Hogue, the Independence County Coordinator of the Quilt Trails, decided getting Lyon involved would be a great opportunity as well.
“Independence County has not been on the trails in the past, and one of the requirements is to have 12 locations to qualify,” he said.
With the help of Assistant Director of the Library Camille Beary, Bork and students researched the Oak Leaf pattern quilt in Lyon’s collection.
The students recreated the quilt on a four foot by four foot panel by color matching the original quilt. The mural is installed in front of Grigsby House on the College campus.
“It is a great showcase for our students and their work,” Bork said, “as well as extra incentive for community members to come tour our beautiful gem of a campus.”
Freshman Juli Howard, of Batesville, had a lot of fun with the project.
“I loved the colors we chose,” she said. “It was really interesting to see the original design of the quilt from the library.”
Howard continued, “It’s beautifully done, but it has aged quite a bit and the fabric was very faded in some places. I thought it was awesome to get to preserve the image in this way.”
Junior Lillian Sulivan said participating in her first mural was a great learning experience and opened up even more artistic possibilities for her.
“Seeing all the elements come together, from outlining to filling in the design to the final touches, was captivating,” she said. “I was surrounded by others that love art. This made the process even more enjoyable.”
Bork said the students took the lead and made the project their own.
“They worked on it together and came up with a plan to be able to complete it in a very short time frame while following COVID protocols, with only a few working on it at a time while masked.”
The students had to communicate closely and would leave notes for one another on the mural and in the group chat to make sure they followed the proper steps and did not undo or cover over someone else’s work.
“It took a lot of teamwork and communication with my fellow classmates,” said freshman Catalina Terlea, of Little Rock. “We worked very hard to have something done every day and everybody was very positive and eager to be part of the project.”
“I can’t imagine a better outcome,” Bork said. “I hope the students who worked on it and the community they are sharing it with see it the same as I do: a point of pride and satisfying visual landmark.”
Howard was excited for Lyon to participate in the Arkansas Quilt Trails because her family is involved at the museum. She believes this project is a great way to display the history of Independence County while also adding public art pieces that can be viewed in “COVID-friendly ways.”
Sullivan said this was the students’ first time being involved in a statewide community art project.
“Participating in this project allowed us to raise awareness and visibility of the arts in our surrounding communities,” she said. “To know we were successful in doing so brings me so much joy.”
Senior Timmy Tignor, of Cave City, was happy to help Lyon’s community be recognized.
“I’m not the most confident in my art,” he said, “but being able to do a first with art is honestly one of my favorite things!”
Terlea was excited to leave a mark on Lyon College and Batesville during her first year here.
“It is very special to me because I hope to show my friends and family the quilt mural years from now.”
A Lyon sophomore is continuing a family legacy by contracting with the Army National Guard. She is the first Lyon student to contract under the College’s new military science concentration.
Blysse Harmon was inspired to join Lyon Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) by her uncle, who is a Lieutenant Colonel and chaplain with the Army National Guard.
“I’m really close with him. He’s like a father figure to me,” Harmon said.
Her uncle talked to her about ROTC and its benefits her senior year of high school. She considered joining the program before accepting a basketball scholarship at Lyon.
“They didn’t have an ROTC program at the time, so I was like ‘Maybe it wasn’t meant to be,’” Harmon said.
She continued, “I prayed about it, and two days later, I get a call from my uncle that ROTC is coming to Lyon. It kind of felt like it was meant to be.”
Lyon College began offering a military science concentration in fall 2019, and ROTC courses were part of the curriculum.
After contracting, Harmon has been awarded a three-year scholarship at Lyon. Not only are her tuition and fees covered, but she will also receive a monthly stipend, an annual book stipend and E-5 pay every month for drill.
“The good thing about the program is it gives you a head start in life,” Harmon said. “Once I graduate, I’ll be an officer and have three years of job experience under me.”
While basketball and ROTC are both big time commitments, she said the ROTC staff have worked around her schedule.
“That was one of the only reasons I was hesitant about joining ROTC,” Harmon said. “I wasn’t sure I would have time for both, but my ROTC teachers kept reassuring me they would work around my basketball schedule and they really have.”
Basketball and ROTC also work together better than she would have expected.
“I have to stay in shape for basketball and for the Army National Guard,” she said. “Now when I get through a basketball workout I get two things out of it.”
Harmon is majoring in psychology and minoring in Spanish with a concentration in military science. She plans to get her master’s degree in occupational therapy after graduating from college.
“The Army National Guard will pay for that schooling,” she said. “If I can get an opportunity within the National Guard to work in occupational therapy, then that’s what I want to do.”
Her favorite part about ROTC so far is the community environment.
“It’s a really good environment that teaches you a lot of respect and discipline,” Harmon said. “For a lot of people, that sounds scary, but it’s kind of awesome because you build bonds with people.”
She concluded, “I really love to work out and be active, and with ROTC you get to do that with people going through the same things you are.”
Lyon students and faculty are studying local ants for a national research project.
Biology professors Dr. Allyn Dodd, Dr. Maryline Jones and Dr. Cassia Oliveira have partnered with the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory DNA Learning Center in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., for a national ant DNA barcoding project.
“DNA barcoding allows researchers to identify species by DNA sequences,” Dodd said, “and can be used to identify invasive species.”
She said researchers across the country are gathering as many ant species as possible, based on a list provided by the DNA Learning Center. They will soon begin identifying their samples, extracting the DNA from the ants, amplifying it and isolating it to send back to the center for sequencing.
Oliveira had received a message about the project, and she, Jones and Dodd submitted an application. The Lyon team was one of four selected for the Ozarks region in Arkansas and Missouri. They will cover Northeast Arkansas and parts of the river valley.
“The thing I love most about this project is that it allows us faculty to collaborate and model collaborative research to our students,” Dodd said.
Junior Briar Miller and freshman Catalina Terlea had reached out to the biology department about their interest in research, and the faculty thought the ant DNA barcoding project would be a great way to get them involved.
Miller, of Cave City, has collected specimens of different ant species around his home and yard.
“Since I am a local, I became involved in this project in August to gain valuable experience,” Miller said, “and to become more involved at Lyon and in the science department despite this semester’s remote learning.”
Terlea, of Little Rock, has collected ants on the trails around Batesville and the Lyon campus. She first heard about the project in her biology course. A few upperclassmen in the Honors Fellows program with her mentioned that Dodd may need help collecting ant samples, so Terlea decided to reach out about being part of the project.
“I thought it was a very neat project because I am interested in genetics,” she said.
Miller and Terlea have also helped identify the ants that other researchers have collected and will participate in the DNA extraction of each species once the lab materials arrive.
Both students have learned a lot through the course of the research project. Miller said he had not thought about the different species of ants native to this area before and has enjoyed learning about the diversity of the species in north central Arkansas. Terlea agreed, saying she was “surprised at the range of sizes and colors” of local ants.
“When I first started collecting ant samples, it took a long time because most ants camouflage with their environment,” she said. “Over time, I learned some efficient collecting techniques, such as using an aspirator, sifter and stunning the ants.”
Miller said ants can be difficult to catch not only because of their small size but also because of their ability to communicate with each other.
“In addition, different species live in a wide range of different environments, such as trees, underneath rocks and logs, in houses and on the outside of different surfaces,” he said.
Terlea said her favorite moment was when she and Dodd hiked a trail and discovered a group of ants living among the different fungi.
“We were very excited about how the fungi and ants coexisted, and we decided to sit in the middle of the trail and collect them,” Terlea said. “I learned a lot from [Dodd] that day in the field about ants and habitats.”
She believes this experience and knowledge will help her have a better understanding of animal behavior and symbiotic relationships in future courses at Lyon.
“I am very interested in genetics, and the experience I will gain from running PCR analysis will benefit me in my future research and the courses I plan on taking.”
Miller said the project will give him the chance to learn more about DNA coding and extraction.
“That will be important in upper-level biology courses,” he said, “and will also be helpful in my career and postgraduate goals, since I am considering attending optometry or medical school after Lyon.”
Dodd said she, Jones and Oliveira enjoy how this project gets Miller and Terlea out in the field and gives them experience with insect identification as well as important laboratory techniques.
“Catalina and Briar will present the data we collect at future conferences, most of which are virtual right now,” Dodd said.
She concluded, “This will give them the opportunity to practice their presentation skills, disseminate their findings and receive feedback from other scientists.”
Senior Dimir Leftwich defined himself as an athlete in high school, but he wanted to be more than that in college.
“When I was in high school all I did was play football and run track,” he said. “I was a really shy kid. I didn’t like talking to people unless you were my teammate.”
During his time at Lyon, he has not only grown out of his shyness but has also grown into his role as a leader.
Leftwich, of Philadelphia, Penn., realized that if he wanted to achieve his goal of being a football coach then he would have to learn how to connect with people.
“You can’t really be a shy coach,” he said, laughing. “How are you going to get the best out of your team?”
He knew the first step to getting out of his comfort zone would be getting more involved on campus. When Dana Bennett, Coordinator of the Lyon Experience, sent students an email about Enrollment Services’ student ambassador program, Leftwich seized the opportunity.
“The student ambassador program forced me to talk to people,” he said, “because I’m talking to three to four kids who are thinking about coming to Lyon every day.”
Leftwich continued, “Joining the organization has forced me to take that leap of faith where you’re going to break out of your shell whether you want to or not.”
While he initially wanted to become a coach because of his love of football, the student ambassador program helped him discover a new aspect of his dream: the chance to positively impact young athletes’ lives.
“I used to think I wanted to coach in the National Football League if I could,” Leftwich said. “I’ve gotten to a point where I’d be perfectly content if I could coach college ball and stay around college students.”
He continued, “I love seeing people grow further and further to be the best version of themselves they can be.”
Over time, Leftwich became even more involved on campus. He is an officer in the Black Students Association, a resident assistant, a Diversity Recognizes Everyone’s Actions in the Movement (DREAM) Scholar, a member of the Diversity Council and a member of Motivational Monday Meetings (M3).
The goal of M3, he said, is to motivate everyone in the group to be the best they can as students, as athletes and as people on campus and in the community as a whole. Most of the members are football players and try to motivate each other on and off the field.
“We try to motivate each other mental health-wise, too,” he said. “College is exhausting. Add on being an athlete to that, and it’s even more tiring.”
The DREAM Scholar program has similar goals. A group of about 12 students from diverse backgrounds live together on the first floor of Young House, he said, and push each other to do the best they can within their classes.
Both groups are meeting virtually this fall while Lyon continues remote instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Being on the football team has helped Leftwich learn how to spot when students in the M3 and DREAM Scholar programs are struggling and motivate them.
“You can tell when someone is discouraged. You can see it on their face,” he said. “What I personally like to do is sit down and have a conversation with them about what isn’t clicking, whether it’s about succeeding on the field or in the classroom.”
As a double major in business and English, Leftwich has also learned valuable time management skills in his courses that help him balance his many commitments in the Lyon community.
“There’s a lot of time in one week for you to do the things you need to get done.”
He continued, “It’s all just a time management thing. You have to know what you can take on as an individual. I like being busy. It’s a grind that I embrace.”
Leftwich encourages other Lyon students interested in being more involved not to be scared.
“I know if I had been scared, I would still be one of those students who goes to class, goes to practice and goes home.”
He concluded, “I feel like it’s the students who take that leap that get the most out of college because they’re taking advantage of everything they can.”
Lyon College junior Daria Giles is not interested in staying a member of clubs. Her goal is to continue progressing in any organization she joins.
“I’m not going to be part of something if I’m not passionate about it.”
As evidenced by her many leadership positions in the Lyon community, Giles has many passions.
In addition to being an Honors Fellow and a double major in music and secondary education, she is the president of both the Honor Council and Spectra Alliance, the section leader of the woodwinds in band and a student mentor with Dr. Barry Gehm.
She has worked as an academic and residential mentor for the APPLE (Accelerated Program of Personalized Learning and Enrichment) Project Upward Bound program the past two years and tutored the clarinet section at Batesville High School.
Giles, of Marion, had been in several clubs in high school, so balancing multiple responsibilities was not new for her when she came to Lyon. She would show up at school at 7:15 a.m. and would stay until 8 p.m. for marching band practice.
“I’m not the oldest in my family, but I was the oldest child in my household,” she said. “I was expected to help take care of my brother and all those things.”
Giles continued, “I feel like if I wasn’t a natural born leader then I developed into one early and sought out those roles at school.”
By the time she started her freshman year at Lyon, she was “revving to go already.” She talked to the band director about being a section leader and got her position as a residential mentor for APPLE, preparing high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed in college.
“I loved watching them grow over the summer,” Giles said. “My students still message me every once in a while.”
APPLE showed her how to lead others through empathy.
“I think being human is the best way to reach students. They are not receptive when you act better than them because you’re not.”
She continued, “They want someone they can relate to and will treat them with the amount of respect they deserve.”
As a sophomore, Giles took on new leadership roles and learned the importance of speaking out and relying on others.
She became the vice president of Spectra Alliance, a student organization focused on serving the needs of Lyon’s LGBTQ+ community and its allies. As a bisexual woman, she was passionate about fulfilling Spectra’s mission but felt the organization was not doing as well as it could.
“Things weren’t getting done, and I decided I needed to get it done,” she said.
She stepped up and became president. Since then, the organization has sponsored more events, including a series of sex education talks led by faculty and a vigil for Transgender Day of Remembrance in 2019.
“For the vigil, we lit paper lanterns and put them in the lake while I read off the names of all the trans people who had been murdered over the course of 2019,” Giles said.
She continued, “The event went very well. It was very emotional, but it was necessary. I want to do more things like that with Spectra.”
Fortunately, she does not have to manage all of these organizations and events on her own.
When Giles had band commitments and a Spectra meeting on the same night, she wrote down what she wanted the vice president, Timmy Tignor, to go over for Spectra and left the meeting in his hands.
“As a leader, you still have to rely on the people you lead,” she said. “That means making sure you have a good team under you.”
Giles continued, “I want my team members to take on their part of the work, know what they’re doing and be respectful.”
She is also grateful to have mentors like Director of Bands Dr. Frederick Brown helping her figure out her path in life.
“I’m trying to be a band director, and [Brown] will basically quiz me on what I would do if we had a certain issue in band.”
Giles said they discuss options for her future, such as graduate school and Teach for America, and the importance of her getting in front of an ensemble to prepare for a career as a band director.
“He’s been linking me to scholarships specifically for women in music education and also Black people in music education,” Giles said, “because he knows people like me are quite niche in the music education field.”
Brown said one of Giles’ best leadership qualities is her willingness to help wherever she can make a positive contribution.
"Whether it is helping other students with learning music and drill, volunteering at high school events or providing invaluable insight for the Lyon College band program, Daria is a fierce and compassionate critical thinker, selflessly giving to others," he said.
Giles encourages other Lyon students to “just go for it” if they are considering applying for a leadership position.
“If you don’t get it the first time, then that means you have more time to keep working toward that goal. There are always people who can help you or that you can reach out to on campus.”
Giles concluded, “There’s nothing stopping you from asking for feedback or help. It’s a matter of communication and trying again and again.”
Lyon graduate Iva Popović, ’20, is stepping off the volleyball court and into her new role as financial manager for STARS Academy in Batesville.
STARS Academy is a locally-owned therapy clinic and developmental preschool. As financial manager, Popović maintains financial services by assisting the executive management team
with budget planning and by offering insights and financial advice that will allow the team to make the best business decisions for the company.
“My job allows me to implement the theoretical knowledge I learned at Lyon and see it work in real life,” she said.
Popović learned about the theory of corporate finance from her economics and business finance professors, preparing her for her current position.
“I am learning how a small business actually runs, not just from a financial standpoint but also from a human resources and, in STARS Academy’s case, a therapy standpoint, too.”
She continued, “It feels great that I am finally able to practice what I was learning about for five years.”
Popović also collects, interprets and reviews financial information, predicting future financial
trends and reporting them to management. She reviews, monitors and manages budgets for both of STARS’ North and South locations in Batesville.
“My favorite part of working at STARS is that I indirectly get to help the kids and work with an
awesome group of people,” she said, “including Lyon men’s basketball alum, David Brogdon, ’93.”
The job opportunity also allowed Popović, a native of Novi Sad, Serbia, to stay in Batesville.
“International students like myself have limited employment options during our time in college,” she said.
This obstacle was made even more challenging by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Finding a job during a global pandemic was extremely challenging and stressful,” Popović said, “but I believe that every stressful situation in life only makes us better and stronger.”
“Perseverance does conquer all!”
She recommends students interested in similar careers participate in as many internship and job shadowing opportunities as possible.
“That experience is very valuable later on,” Popović said. “Network and put yourself out there as much as possible.”
She encourages students to keep an open mind when looking for a career.
“Don’t be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone and be open to all opportunities that come your way, especially in the times we are in.”
A Lyon College senior is breaking into the business world before she graduates.
Carolynn “Bryan” Palmer recently opened her own coffee shop, The Cure, inside the American Made General Store in Pocahontas, Ark. The shop offers a wide variety of speciality espresso coffees, regular black coffee options and hot chocolate.
Palmer is the owner and operator of The Cure.
She was supposed to move back to campus in July for resident assistant training before the College decided to continue remote instruction for the fall.
“It’s an adjustment being back home and not feeling as independent as you do at school,” Palmer said.
She continued, “I wanted to do something that was for me.”
Pocahontas has about 7,000 residents, she said, but did not have any coffee shops.
“I am a coffee fanatic, so I thought it would work out very well for me to open up a small shop.”
The process of starting the business was rushed, Palmer said. She began working on the permits around mid-July and partnered with the American Made General Store to open The Cure inside the store’s café.
“They have a drive-thru where they serve food through the café, and my coffee shop uses the same drive-thru window.”
Palmer continued, “People can swing through and grab breakfast from the café or coffee from The Cure and get it all in one go.”
The Cure had its grand opening on Aug. 28.
“Everyone was really helpful in the startup process,” Palmer said. “It didn’t take a lot of rescheduling to get officials to come do the inspections, probably because the building already being there made that easy to do.”
She is currently running The Cure by herself and works in the shop from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Fortunately, the work is part-time, so it doesn’t interfere with her classes at Lyon.
While the work is hard, Palmer finds it rewarding, too.
“I really enjoy seeing the support from the community,” she said. “Pocahontas is like Batesville. Everybody knows and supports everybody here.”
Palmer enjoys seeing friends from high school, their parents and neighbors stop by the drive-thru in the morning.
“I get to make their day with coffee, so they’re excited to see you in the morning,” she said, laughing.
Waking up early to work at The Cure has even helped her with her online classes.
“Instead of sleeping until time to get on the computer, I’m already awake,” Palmer said. “I think it’s been good for both sides, even though it’s been a little bit challenging.”
She is currently double-majoring in psychology and English at Lyon. She plans to attend graduate school for psychology next year.
“Once I get my footing [at The Cure], I’ll probably find somebody local who wants to run it,” Palmer said.
She will still own and manage the coffee shop, but she plans to step away from the day-to-day operations before leaving for grad school.
Palmer also has her eye on a possible expansion already.
“The general store has just opened a new store in Brookland right outside of Jonesboro,” she said. “I think it would be cool to move over to that new store and keep the businesses connected.”
Palmer knows opening her own business before graduating college is a big accomplishment, but she has not taken the time to appreciate it yet.
“I don’t take the time to step back and look at it until somebody else mentions it,” she said, laughing. “Then I’m like ‘I should be really proud of myself.’”
Palmer concluded, “It feels awesome to have this accomplishment. I feel like I’m moving in the right direction.”
A Lyon freshman spent her spring and summer developing small molecules in an organic chemistry research laboratory that could one day be used to treat lung cancer.
Nikkolette Perkins, of Brookland, Ark., researched 1,4-naphthoquinone, an organic compound with significant biological activities, with Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Irosha Nawarathne. These biological activities include anticancer, antimicrobial, antiproliferative and anti-inflammatory properties.
Perkins would develop chemical methodologies to make novel modified naphthoquinones by adding groups to the core structure to make effective lung cancer treatments. She used organic reactions, such as Michael addition and click reaction, and organic techniques and instrumentation like analytical and preparative scale thin layer chromatography (TLC), flash column chromatography, solvent extraction, UV-Vis spectroscopy, Infra-Red spectroscopy and mass spectrometry during those developments.
While Perkins previously did research at Arkansas State University Biosciences Institute, this was her first undergraduate research experience.
“When I was in high school, I did not quite understand the science I was doing,” she said, “but here, with my undergraduate classes that I have taken, I understand a lot more of what I am doing.”
That knowledge made the experience more fun for her.
“I am able to learn more about chemistry from what I am doing in the lab, and it makes me feel very prepared for my future classes at Lyon.”
Perkins continued, “I am also doing science I enjoy more than I did in high school, which makes it more fun.”
Her courses at Lyon prepared her for some of the lab techniques she used this summer. Now a rising sophomore, she believes her lab experience will help her in future courses.
“Some of the things I have done, I already knew the basics from some of my general chemistry classes,” Perkins said. “I think understanding the applications of what I have done this summer will really help me understand the in-class material when I take Organic Chemistry.”
She spent most of the summer developing molecules with azido or alkyne groups. One of her favorite moments from her summer research was when she successfully combined two different modified naphthoquinones, which contained alkyne and azido reactive groups she developed in the lab, into a new hybrid product by using click chemistry.
“It ended up working! This new click product will hopefully help in fighting against lung cancer.”
Lung cancer remains the most common cancer worldwide, in the United States, and in Arkansas. According to the American Cancer Society and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, more people die as a result of lung cancer each year than from breast, colorectal and prostate cancer combined.
The molecules Perkins helped develop are being tested for their anticancer and antimicrobial activities at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), where Lyon has research collaborations.
She plans to continue doing undergraduate research this semester. Her goal is to eventually obtain her Ph.D. in chemistry.
“I am unsure what I quite want to do for my future, but I think I might want to do research after how much I enjoyed researching this summer.”
Lyon graduate Jonathan Hicks, ’20, is stepping back on the football field as a coach this fall.
Hicks is working at the El Dorado School District as a geometry teacher and the ninth grade defensive coordinator for the football team. He was inspired to become a teacher after helping his little brother with schoolwork during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When corona came, he was at home, and my mother and father had to work,” Hicks said.
“I had to help teach him a lot at home. It was actually fun to see him learn and understand what I was saying. [It was] definitely fun trying to teach fractions with pieces of cake.”
Hicks is able to apply what he learned as a math major at Lyon College into his new teaching position. He plans to attend grad school at Southern Arkansas University to get his M.A. in teaching.
The transition from being a student-athlete to being a teacher and a coach can be strange at times for Hicks.
“There are coaches that have been coaching for years and years, so it is hard seeing them as equals,” Hicks said.
He continued, “Going from being told what to do as a player to telling players what to do… it is just weird when you have been playing for so long. We just put pads on, and it was the first time since I was six that I wasn’t putting them on.”
Lyon’s Assistant Football Coach Josh Oliver gave Hicks a piece of advice for coaching: “It is not about how hard or how mean you are as a coach, but how much you can get your players to improve.”
Hicks is using that advice at El Dorado to help his players improve and be better athletes.
Entering his first season as a football coach, Hicks plans to mold his style of coaching after the staff from his senior year at Lyon.
“They did a great job at letting us know when it was all right to joke and play around, and they also knew how to lock us in. That is one thing that I am trying to get my players to understand.”
His first game as a coach will be on Aug. 20 for a ninth grade scrimmage against Camden. The first varsity game, which Hicks also helps with, will be on Aug. 28 against North Little Rock.
A Lyon graduate learned that perseverance is key to succeeding during a pandemic.
After graduating with a business major in December 2019, Ignacio Zuniga, of Valparaíso, Chile, began searching for a job. He was assisting the Lyon Men’s Soccer Team as a coach and with social media and graphic design, but he wanted to find a job that related to his degree.
This search got even harder with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring.
Eventually, Zuniga decided to use the extra time spent at home to develop an idea he’d had several years ago: a sports agency that helps connect Chilean student-athletes with colleges in the United States.
“One day while at home during the pandemic, I started working on my logo,” he said. “It took a few days, but I wound up doing something really cool that looked professional.”
Zuniga continued, “I looked at that logo everyday and was like ‘I need to start this.’ I had so much time, and I decided to make it possible.”
He started working with his mom, who is an accountant in Chile, on contracts and registering his business.
Soon, 5tars Sports was launched.
Zuniga created Instagram and Facebook pages and immediately had soccer players from Chile contacting him about how to get started.
Within about three weeks, he had six players registered with 5tars Sports.
“It was crazy. I never expected it to be this fast,” Zuniga said.
“I was expecting at least five to six months to get started.”
5tars Sports is based in Chile and helps Chilean soccer players get scholarships to play for U.S. colleges based on their abilities, academics and athletics.
The sports agency was inspired by Zuniga’s own experiences coming to the United States as a college athlete.
“It was a huge change for me,” he said. “I came from a different country with a different culture.”
“Coming here was like living the dream. For me, it was like living in a movie.”
After going through the process himself and graduating, Zuniga wanted to help other kids back home who don’t have the same opportunities.
“I started my business because I wanted to help people like me.”
He continued, “For a lot of players back home around 19 or 20, if they don’t make it to the pros they don’t have anything.”
Zuniga got the chance because one of his former teammates had come to the United States to play soccer and helped him with the process.
“Back home, there aren’t big companies or agencies like this trying to help people do better in life and keep playing sports.”
Being able to come to the United States and earn a degree is a big deal, he said, because players get to study abroad in another country and learn a new language.
“Coming here opened my mind,” Zuniga said. “I was a captain of the soccer team and was in different societies like Mortar Board that I never thought I was capable of doing until I came here.”
The agency has started small. Zuniga and his friend co-founded the business. His mom handles the payments, contracts and the administration side of the business. 5tars Sports has one coach who goes around to tournaments as a recruiter in Valparaíso and an athletic trainer who works with the players in case they get injured.
Zuniga, who is currently living in Arkansas, handles things stateside.
Interested players contact Zuniga, who sends them an application. He reviews their academics and athletic skills before taking them on as a client. The players then pay a fee to start working with 5tar Sports, ensuring that they will go through the whole process.
5tar Sports then starts contacting different colleges and universities. If the player gets a scholarship offer they like, then they register with that school. 5tar Sports then uses a sliding scale to determine how much the player will pay for the agency’s services based on how much they received in scholarships.
“For example, if a player gets a full ride he might pay us $1,000,” Zuniga said, “but if he gets a scholarship that pays about 70% of the cost he will pay us $700.”
While the agency is focusing on soccer players right now, he said they have talked about expanding to include tennis and golf in the future.
“For now, my goal for growing is getting more players,” Zuniga said. “In the future, I would like to have some sort of team back home where I can get all my players together so they practice and prepare together before coming here.”
He is grateful to have attended Lyon as a student athlete, crediting the College for giving him the tools to do well in life.
“Lyon is the best place to develop yourself in every single aspect: athletics, education and relationships.”
Zuniga said his business courses with faculty like Associate Professor of Business and Economics Dr. Angela Buchanan gave him the knowledge to start a business from scratch.
He is thankful for the Lyon community and how they helped him.
“I want to thank everyone at Lyon: my coaches, my professors and my host family.”.
Zuniga concluded, “Without them, it would have been even for me being away from home. They were like my family. That’s something Lyon gives to you.”
Daniel Armstrong, ’20, researched new treatment options for tuberculosis (TB) at Lyon College this summer.
Armstrong worked with Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Irosha Nawarathne on developing new antibiotics to treat multi-drug resistant TB.
“This TB strain can be deadly, so new treatment options are always very useful,” Armstrong said.
He used the drug rifamycin, a well-known TB treatment and a broad-spectrum antibiotic, as a precursor to develop new rifamycin derivatives. Using a reaction called an “enabling reaction,” he incorporated an azide group to the complex rifamycin S, something which has not been done before in scientific literature.
“I primarily studied ‘click chemistry of rifamycins,’ which is a type of reaction that occurs between two specific chemical groups: alkynes and azides,” Armstrong said.
After modifying rifamycin so that it had an azide functional group on it, he added different alkyne molecules to it in order to create the new rifamycin derivatives. During the project, he would frequently run reactions and later purify the products using chromatography, a laboratory technique for the separation of a mixture.
He also used techniques like infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry to identify products.
“I think the coolest moment for me was when I realized that the antibiotics I made had never been made before,” Armstrong said.
Nawarathne said the novel rifamycins developed by Armstrong are currently being tested by other researchers for their antimicrobial and anticancer activities.
“It’s exciting to think that some day the drugs made in Dr. Irosha’s lab could possibly help treat TB,” Armstrong said.
He believes this research experience will help him when he enters the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Pharmacy this fall.
“This research gave me insight into the drug discovery process,” Armstrong said. “So much work goes into the process of developing just one drug molecule, and I think appreciation for that is important.”
Sophomore Michael Uecker (left) and junior Hannah Wu have been researching axolotls in Lyon's biology lab this summer.
A Lyon student feels at home in the biology lab after his first undergraduate research experience.
Sophomore Michael Uecker, of Brockwell, has been working with Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Maryline Jones to research osmoregulation in Ambystoma mexicanum, also known as the Mexican axolotl.
Uecker said osmoregulation is essentially the maintenance of an organism’s salt and water balance.
“For example, in humans, the kidney is the main osmoregulatory organ,” he said, “but organs like the skin and intestine are also utilized.”
Uecker and Jones are looking into proteins expressed in different osmoregulatory organs by sampling the axolotls’ kidneys, skin, gills, lungs and intestine. They use a device called a microtome to take very thin samples of an organism’s organs and put them on microscope slides to examine.
They are also doing immunostaining on the slides to determine whether certain proteins are expressed in different tissues and find out their exact localization, allowing them to get a better picture of the mechanisms of osmoregulation in these organs.
Uecker is thrilled to be working on his first undergraduate research project.
“Typically, most students don’t get to do research the summer after their freshman year, so I was very excited that Dr. Jones extended the invitation.”
He continued, “It feels great to be involved in the research and getting to come in every day and learn.”
His Biology 112 course with Jones prepared him for some of the dissections and general knowledge of anatomy and structure when researching axolotls.
“The research I am doing now will also help me tremendously in my courses moving forward,” Uecker said. “The project has many facets that I think have definitely given me an edge in my classes to come, like Cell Biology, Ecology and Organic Chemistry.”
While he was nervous the first day in the lab, the research experience has exceeded his expectations.
“Put simply, the lab is my happy place,” Uecker said. “I am constantly learning something new and having fun while I am doing it.”
He will stay on the project throughout the 2020-21 school year and plans to continue to do research.
Uecker hopes to one day enter a double Ph.D./M.D. program where he can combine medicine and research.
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.”
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.”
Allison Mundy (left) and Olivia Echols are conducting field research on the water quality of the Eleven Point and Black River watersheds.
Two Lyon College students are working in both the laboratory and the field to research the impact of poultry houses on local watersheds this summer.
Seniors Allison Mundy and Olivia Echols are researching the water quality in the Eleven Point and Black River watersheds. Poultry houses cause phosphorus and nitrogen runoffs, which can create harmful algae blooms in the water.
Mundy is working under Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Allyn Dodd, and Echols is splitting her time with Dodd and Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Maryline Jones.
They are studying the nutrients present in local streams to make sure they are at acceptable levels. If the streams are over-nutriated, then that is a sign that poultry house runoff is in the water.
“We’re also checking to see how much algae is growing in the streams,” Mundy said. “If there’s too much algae, the fish cannot survive because it depletes the oxygen in the water.”
She continued, “I’m checking the macroinvertebrates community. Basically, there are some bugs in the water that cannot live in pollution at all, so I check to see if any of those bugs are around and count them.”
Echols said she is studying the Ozark crawfish population to see how the pollution impacts the physiology of crawfish.
“We’re looking at how the nutrients have affected the osmoregulation of the crawfish,” Echols said. “Our main purpose right now is to try to sequence the genes involved in osmoregulation.”
Mundy said their work is part of Dodd’s research project in collaboration with Jones and Erik Pollock of the University of Arkansas, which was funded through a grant from the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
“We are just gathering information to share with the USGS so they can publish the research on their website and get it to whoever needs it.”
She said the USGS is worried about this region of Arkansas because of the growing number of poultry houses in the area.
“They’re checking to make sure everything is okay,” Mundy said, “and that people are within their regulations.”
Mundy and other students previously presented some of their research at the 2020 Posters at the Capitol event in February.
“I have a few business cards from a few legislators in the area,” Mundy said. “They were asking if we could send them our results when we’re finished.”
She continued, “Our research has a direct impact on the policies people are making. It’s really cool to know that my science gets to be reviewed at that level.”
Echols and Mundy are excited to be working on their first undergraduate research project and to apply what they have learned in their biology courses in the field.
“I learned about crawfish in Bio 110,” Echols said, “so I’m getting to apply a bunch of dissection and anatomy of crawfish from that course.”
Mundy said she is using what she learned in her Biological Statistics course to run her own statistics on this project.
“It’s great to be able to learn a different side of biology,” Echols said. “I’ve worked with cells and things like that , but not necessarily with bugs and water chemistry.”
She concluded, “It’s nice to be able to see the background of the impact poultry houses can have on ecology.”
“I like this research because it’s beyond the textbook,” Mundy said. “You get to contextualize how science is done, and you get to know it a lot better than you would just reading from a book.”
Angelica Holmes, ’15, is the new executive director of Black Outside, Inc.
BlackOutside.org says the nonprofit organization was founded with the mission of expanding outdoor “access, programming and relevancy to both Black and Brown communities across Texas.”
Holmes was already working with Black Outside as the director of the relaunched Camp Founder Girls, one of the first summer camps for Black girls founded in 1924. Alex Bailey, the founder and former executive director of Black Outside, recently started a new job, and the nonprofit was looking for someone to take over his role.
“I was one of the first people mentioned because I’m so familiar with the organization,” Holmes said. “I’ve always been on the board for Black Outside, and its mission has been close to my heart since the very beginning.”
She had to work through some “imposter syndrome” internally while preparing to take on the new leadership role.
“I’m an introvert, and I never imagined this would be my role. It’s been kind of crazy and still a lot to process.”
Holmes continued, “I’m so excited about it, though!”
She will continue serving as the director of Camp Founder Girls and working hand-in-hand with Bailey, but she will be taking the lead on programs now.
“Instead of spending all my time and attention on Camp Founders Girls stuff, I’ll be looking at the bigger picture of Black Outside’s mission.”
Holmes will help manage Black Outside’s other programs, such as the Brotherhood Summit and the Charles Roundtree Bloom Project.
The Brotherhood Summit, she said, is an annual outdoor retreat for Black male high school students. A collective of Black male teachers and mentors convene with students from across San Antonio, Texas, for mentorship, community-building and leadership development.
The Charles Roundtree Bloom Project aims to create a space of communal healing for youth impacted by incarceration and over-policing in their communities.
“It was started by my esteemed colleague Ki’Amber Thompson,” Holmes said. “Her cousin, Charles Roundtree, was 18 in 2018 when he was killed by the San Antonio Police Department.”
She continued, “[Ki’Amber] has a lot of experience dealing with over-policing in San Antonio. She wanted to give her family members and members of the community who had similar upbringings what she would have wanted when she was their age.”
Holmes said the Bloom Project facilitates healing-centered outdoor experiences and culturally relevant environmental education that helps young people “envision new possibilities for their lives, for their communities and for our world.”
She is also excited to continue working with Camp Founder Girls, which just finished its second year. The camp had to pivot to a hybrid model this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, hosting day camps with three small groups of 10 girls instead of the typical overnight model.
“With everything going on in the world, we recognized the importance of our girls having a chance to get together and convene, even if it was on a much smaller scale.”
The camp featured some “social distancing-friendly” day activities. Some were in person, and some were virtual, Holmes said.
“We just wanted to give them a little taste of camp and that sense of community.”
She continued, “It’s been really hard trying to figure out how to be as safe as possible, but I think we did a good job of making sure we were overly cautious when it came to preventing transmission of the virus or any health issues.”
Holmes is looking forward to being more involved in all of Black Outside’s programming and seeing its mission expand.
One lesson she has learned through Camp Founder Girls is the importance of giving the kids time to breathe.
“As a former teacher working with a lot of former teachers, we wanted to have every single minute planned,” she said, laughing.
Holmes said giving kids time to discover and explore on their own is important.
“As we plan for the future, we have to give the kids some time to just be outside and be able to discover, walk around and inhale and exhale outside. It’s such a blessing. We’re finding ways to work that into the schedule.”
To donate to Black Outside and its programs, visit BlackOutside.org/donate. Donors can select which program they want to support or let their donation go to the area of most need.
A Lyon College alumna has been published in The Journal of Chemical Physics.
Morgan Perkins, ’18, of Perryville, is the first author of “Anchoring the hydrogen sulfide dimer potential energy surface to juxtapose (H2S)2 with (H2O)2,” which she researched with other Ph.D. students at the University of Mississippi.
“I’m studying physical chemistry and in particular computational chemistry, so all the science I do is on a computer,” Perkins said. “We model molecules and their interactions and can relate that to what's happening in the real world.”
Her research studies the noncovalent interactions present within hydrogen sulfur dimer, (H2S)2 and how the molecule compares to water molecules.
“H2O is something my research group studies a lot. You think ‘It’s water. How interesting can it be?’ But it has a lot of really interesting properties because of its strong noncovalent interactions.”
Although Perkins published research as an undergraduate, this was her first time being the first author of a paper.
“This is much more involved than that first paper,” she said. “It’s really exciting because I hadn’t seen this level of detail and what it takes to get a paper published.”
Perkins continued, “In chemistry, it’s a big hurdle to get over writing that first paper and going through the whole review process.”
Every author makes an intellectual contribution to the paper, she said, but the first author bears the majority of the responsibility for the research.
“There’s some added pressure to treat the research well and convey what you did well because you’ve been working on it for so long.”
She continued, “In your head, you see the value and benefit of your research, but you worry ‘What if I can’t convey that well?’”
Perkins will continue publishing research as part of her Ph.D. program, which requires students publish a certain amount of papers. She is interested in pursuing a career in scientific communications after graduation.
“Scientific communications shares the work scientists do with the non-scientific public, who aren’t as familiar with the work or the details.”
Perkins is hoping to intern with the Office of Technology Commercialization at the University of Mississippi, which helps STEM departments patent their works or get them out to the public as products.
“They often hire graduate students as interns to be the middlemen and help interpret the science. I haven’t interned with them yet, but it’s something I’m looking into.”
Perkins advised students working on their first research project to focus on getting ideas on paper.
“I have trouble in my mind breaking down a large task. It helps to compartmentalize it in whatever way is useful. Getting your ideas out there helps you start to see how things need to take shape.”
Fortunately, her courses at Lyon College taught her how to communicate her ideas.
“I learned a lot on how to better vet my words and interpret how they would appear to other people.”
She continued, “In a lot of our science classes, we had to communicate lab results or something we researched to fellow classmates. Learning how to do that and getting confidence with it is helpful.”
Perkins said letting go of the need for perfection is an important step in publishing research.
“You have to learn how to get your research to a point where it’s acceptable to you so you can give it to your advisor, be proud of it and be ready to take criticism.”
Lyon College senior Elissa Douglass will attend Louisiana State University (LSU) next fall to work on a master's degree in leadership and human resources.
Douglass, of League City, Texas, has even secured a job at LSU as a resident coordinator, a similar position to her job at Lyon as a resident director.
“When everything lined up there, I could not begin to describe how excited I was. It was a dream come true!”
She expects that LSU will be different from anything she is used to, especially since the university has over 30,000 students.
“But I am excited to broaden my horizons and see new and exciting parts of life.”
She continued, “I am, of course, nervous because I know it might be a big adjustment at first, but I can’t get better if I don’t challenge myself! I think I will love it there.”
Douglass will graduate this May with a double major in business administration and Spanish. During her time at Lyon, she has been involved in a little bit of everything.
She competed on the wrestling team for four years and on the cheer team for two years. She has worked as a Resident Director, a SOAR Leader for student orientations and as a Lyon Ambassador for campus tours. She is also a member of the Phi Mu sorority and the Spanish Club.
Looking back on her senior year, Douglass considers it a success, even with so many things going wrong. She was awarded the “Ms. Lyon” title and received an Outstanding Leader Award at the Honors Convocations.
“Those are two accomplishments that I never would have envisioned when arriving at Lyon. Things like that make you see that your efforts to help people or make changes have been appreciated.”
Although nationals for wrestling were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Douglass got to compete at the conference tournament and had her first perfect performance since high school, not getting scored on once and pinning four of the five girls she wrestled.
“I ended up winning the ‘Most Falls of the Meet’ award, as well as a ‘Champion of Character’ award.”
She earned first place in her weight class, and Lyon College pulled through to become the 2020 winners of the Sooner Athletic Conference.
“I am so sad that our team did not get to wrestle at nationals. I know we would have accomplished amazing things, but I am incredibly proud of how we ended our season.”
Douglass is grateful for the close bonds she formed with friends and faculty at Lyon, especially her advisor, Associate Professor of Spanish Dr. John Herda.
“He has been a consistent source of support and encouragement,” she said, “and has always been so insightful and thoughtful.”
She also credits Dean of Students Dr. Patrick Mulick, Professor of Art Dustyn Bork and Director of Counseling Diane Ellis for helping her grow into the person she is now.
“It is support from people like them that makes you really value being at a small college in Batesville, Arkansas! They all genuinely care and are so intentional with everything they do.”
Douglass said she will miss “absolutely everything” about Lyon.
“This place has been exactly what I needed to grow as a person. The close-knit community really helps, in that people see what you’re doing and provide so much support and love along the way.”
She said Lyon has helped her flourish and become a confident leader.
“It is going to be so hard to leave here because the people I have met, the things I’ve participated in and the memories that I have formed mean so much to me.”
Douglass concluded, “This is an outstanding place, and I am so grateful for every aspect of it.”
Senior Melanie Beehler, of Pea Ridge, learned more than just critical thinking skills at Lyon College.
“I gained the ability to think critically and not just rely on my own background and experiences.”
Lyon taught her new perspectives on the world and how to take those into account when making decisions.
“I would definitely say I’m more open-minded and more self-assured as well,” Beehler said. “Coming out of high school, at first everyone has that ‘I’m the best’ kind of mentality.”
She continued, “Lyon teaches you that you’re good. You may not be the best, but you are good at what you do. That was a good lesson to learn.”
Beehler will graduate this May with a double major in biology and chemistry.
During her time at Lyon, she served as the vice president of the Student Government Association (SGA) and helped found Lyon’s chapter of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) with other students. She has also been involved in the Alpha Xi Delta sorority, Resident Life Services (RLS) and Honor Council.
“Bid Day for Alpha Xi my freshman year was one of my favorite memories,” she said. “That was definitely a big time for a lot of people.”
Beehler said she cherishes the friendships she has formed at Lyon, especially during her junior year.
“The friendships you form during that year really tend to make a difference since it’s so hard academically. Those have really stuck with me.”
Beehler will miss the communal living style on campus.
“I’m going to miss being able to walk 5 minutes to go see my friends, as opposed to the adult world where you’d have to drive 15 minutes through traffic and only after work.”
She also appreciates the faculty, like Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Jennifer Daniels, for broadening her education goals.
“Before I came to Lyon, I said I was pre-med and was going to do biology and chemistry no matter what,” Beehler said, laughing.
“[Daniels] taught me that, even though that’s what I wanted to do, I could still take time to learn other things, even if they don’t directly apply.”
Beehler took some individual statistics classes with Daniels as a result.
“I learned that you can incorporate what you want to learn in addition to what you know you need to have to succeed.”
Lyon taught her the importance of perseverance most of all.
Beehler did not get into medical school in the last cycle, but she plans to retake the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) this summer, apply again in the fall and interview next winter.
“Academically, Lyon has taught me perseverance more than anything because it takes a lot to get through those four years of college. It also taught me about the whole journey of applying to medical school, and I’m grateful for that.”
Lyon College senior Elena Cervantes will be entering the Arkansas Fellowship program this June.
According to its website, the Arkansas Fellowship offers a two-year fellowship program to a select group of graduating seniors, focusing on developing the next generation of Arkansas’ entrepreneurs and business leaders. The goal is to attract and retain Arkansas’ brightest talent by partnering with the state’s leading universities and most ambitious companies, it says.
Cervantes, of Fort Smith, was selected for the program last semester.
“I am very excited to take on this new journey and can’t wait to start working with my mentor company!”
Cervantes is graduating with a major in economics and a minor in computer science this May. During her time at Lyon, she was involved in the Recyclers Club, Campus Ministry, KILT Radio and the economics honor society.
She also served as the captain of the women’s soccer team.
“One of my favorite memories at Lyon was playing Lindenwood University freshman year,” Cervantes said. “We were playing down with only nine players.”
“We fought til the last second, and we won that game 3-2!”
Cervantes said she and her teammates were nicknamed “The Mighty 9” by the rest of the Lyon College Women's Soccer Team.
Her proudest accomplishment at Lyon, however, will be graduating with honors.
“I am a first-generation college student,” Cervantes said. “The whole journey leading up to this hasn’t been easy, but it is about to pay off!”
She is grateful to her best friend, Bailey Hirscheider, for helping her get through college.
“I couldn’t have done these last four years without Bailey! She is a kind soul who stuck with me since we arrived for pre-season freshman year.”
Cervantes said Director of Career Services Annette Castleberry also pushed her to be the best version of herself while interning for the Career Center.
“Annette challenged me constantly and has been a big support and help in my career path. I couldn’t have asked for a better boss and mentor, who always had the best interest in my future.”
Cervantes has changed her perspective on things since being at Lyon, learning to be more open-minded and see the world from others’ points of view.
“I realized how much I am capable of because Lyon College really pushes you to your limits and tests your endurance and resilience.”
Cervantes concluded, “Is it too cliche to say I’ll miss everything? The last for years have been filled with great memories, experiences and friendships. I am going to miss my friends, college soccer and everything in between!”
With graduation quickly approaching, Lyon seniors are finalizing their plans for post-graduate life.
One senior, Emma Gillaspy, plans on spending the next year working with the Young Adult Volunteer Program (YAV). This program, which is run by the Presyberterian Church of the United States, provides volunteer opportunities in locations around the world. Gillaspy will be working near the U.S./Mexican border in Tucson, Ariz.
Gillaspy first became interested in working at the border after visiting Brownsville, Texas, with the Lyon College Presbyterian Student Association in October 2019. Led by Lyon’s chaplain, Rev. Maggie Alsup, Gillaspy and other members of the association visited Ozanam Center, which serves as a transitional home for Central American refugees.
This center and others like it are designed as neutral spaces for refugees to begin adjusting to their new living situation while waiting to learn if their request for refuge will be granted. During their visit, Lyon students learned about what awaited refugees after coming to America, including the prejudice they face.
Gillaspy particularly enjoyed speaking to the people working at the center and learning about the situation from their perspectives. One trait that stuck out to her was the optimism in everyone she met.
“Everyone was so happy and so pumped about helping people,” she said.
Though this trip did inspire Gillaspy’s desire to work at the border, she didn’t always know how she could pursue this dream. Knowing she didn’t want to begin graduate school immediately, she decided to take a gap year.
She learned about YAV through Lyon College Career Services’ “Year of Service” luncheon, which educates students about temporary placements in service-based programs.
“I wanted to do something within this gap year to make a difference,” she said. “Seeing that the YAV had a placement where I could do what I had seen at the border, it felt like it was a perfect match.”
Though her placement hasn’t yet been finalized, Gillaspy is looking forward to helping people in any way she can. She was particularly inspired by her experience at the Ozanam Center and hopes to play a similar role as those workers.
Her one-year appointment begins in August 2020. She doesn’t yet know if she’ll be pursuing similar work after the year ends, but she appreciates the way the temporary placement allows her to experience working in the field and building experience.
“It’s just figuring out how to put that interest into a job, and this is like a first step for me,” she said.
Lyon freshman Sarah Darnell likes to be prepared, whether she’s in the classroom or in the wilderness.
She is active in both the Honors Fellows Program and the Lyon Education and Adventure Program (LEAP).
“The honors program is a great community builder,” said Darnell, of North Little Rock, “with all of us living together on the same floor and seeing each other all the time.”
She enjoys studying with the Fellows because they’re all good at different things.
“It’s great to be able to put our brains together and work it out.”
Darnell began going on LEAP trips her first semester, including the ski trip in Kansas City, Mo. It was her first time to go skiing or snowboarding.
“I didn’t make it down the hill once without falling,” she said, laughing. “My record was falling twice.”
Because of her involvement with LEAP, Darnell decided to take the Wilderness First Responder course at the beginning of the spring semester. The three-hour course started on Jan. 6 and ran from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for eight days.
“It’s like first responder training. You learn CPR, and you learn how to use what you have to take care of someone if you don’t have the resources you need.”
The course explores what to do in emergency situations in the wilderness, classified as areas two hours away from help and without cell service.
“If someone breaks their leg, I can set that now,” Darnell said. “I can set bones, treat bruises and sprains and things like that.”
“I think it’s really cool. That’s why I wanted to take the course.”
While she doesn’t consider herself “super outdoorsy,” she likes to be prepared and had previously taken a few medical courses in high school.
“I know I want to go into the medical field. I just don’t know quite where yet.”
Darnell plans to also take the Wilderness First Aid program through LEAP while at Lyon and might attend a Wilderness EMT course in New Hampshire this summer.
“I want to become a Wilderness EMT. It’s a two-week course where you basically live, sleep, and breathe wilderness first responder and first aid training.”
She said the organizers are monitoring the coronavirus pandemic closely and have not canceled the program at this time.
Darnell used to live in New Hampshire because her mom was a travel nurse.
“I think the training is close to where we stayed, so I might be able to stay with the people we did before and work it out that way.”
Darnell also stays active in cheer at Lyon and by teaching at Independence Gymnastics during the week.
“I was a gymnast in high school for forever, and I wanted to stay active when I came here so I tried out for cheer and made it.”
She enjoys being a mentor for young gymnasts now.
“It’s a totally different experience, but it’s really fun,” Darnell said. “It’s good to have perspective from both sides because I know when to be tough on them and when to chill out.”
“You can kind of gauge the kids once you get to know them.”
To balance her schoolwork with cheer, gymnastics and LEAP, Darnell sets reminders on her phone for when big assignments are due.
“The background on my phone is my schedule that I’ve written out because I can’t keep up with myself,” she said, laughing.
Darnell plans to continue taking courses with LEAP and going on trips, including the skydiving trip in April.
“It’s all good memories with LEAP.”
A Lyon College student had her research published in a scientific journal.
Junior Hannah Zang, of McKinney, Texas, conducted research with Dr. Nagayasu Nakanishi at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville last summer with the IDeA Network for Biomedical Excellence (INBRE). This February, their research was featured in an article in Frontiers in Endocrinology.
“I’m still kind of in shock,” Zang said. “I didn’t really expect this because publishing research is one of those things you hear is incredibly rare as an undergrad.”
She and Nakanishi studied the function of a novel neuropeptide in sea anemones. Neuropeptides are small protein-like molecules (peptides) used for functions such as metamorphosis, the process of transforming from one to distinct stage to another.
After the project concluded, Nakanishi presented some of his and Zang’s findings at conferences, compiled the data and put the experimental process into words for the article. Zang reviewed a draft of the article last fall and helped him edit it. They then submitted it for the peer review process.
Two reviewers and an editor looked over the article and submitted comments on how to improve it. After Zang and Nakanishi sent in the edits, the reviewers approved the article, and it was accepted for publication in Frontiers in Endocrinology.
“It’s a free scientific journal,” she said. “That’s nice because for most you have to pay to read the articles.”
During the research process, Nakanishi worked on immunostaining while Zang used CRISPR-Cas9, a new gene-editing technology.
“This technology wasa big reason I joined the lab. It’s been a hot topic in the science community for the past couple months because the idea is eventually you may be able to treat a variety of human diseases.”
Using a CRISPR-Cas9 mediated approach, Zang would completely “knock out” the gene responsible for producing the neuropeptide in sea anemones and see how they were different from those with it. While they originally thought the neuropeptide was unique to sea anemones, they discovered that it was also present in other animals in the Cnidarian phylum, such as jellyfish.
“My evolution and genetics courses with Dr. Cassia Oliveira helped prepare me for this research.”
Zang got to present some of her findings in January at the Society for Integrative Comparative Biology conference in Austin, Texas.
“It was intimidating because I was the only undergrad in my session,” she said. “There was a guy before me that was from Harvard and the guy right after me was from Stanford.”
She will present her research again at the Alpha Chi National Convention in March in Albuquerque, NM.
Zang encourages Lyon students interested in publishing research to share that goal with their professors.
“They can’t read your mind, so it helps to say that is one of your goals. That does mean getting results for a paper, so you’re going to have to work toward that.”
Zang plans to attend medical school to study osteopathic medicine and is looking into dual programs that allow her to continue doing research.
“I always think it’s important to share your findings with the scientific community, so I hope to continue doing that.”
With the right touch, a dorm can feel like home.
Lyon freshmen Nikkolette Perkins and Nicholas McDonald are working to foster that sense of community for the Honors Fellows Program.
The program is designed to provide highly skilled, motivated students the opportunity to study, hone their research skills, and exchange ideas in a challenging and supportive academic environment. Honors Fellows work closely with Lyon faculty in small, specially-designed courses to extend their academic experience beyond the scope of the traditional undergraduate curriculum.
Each class of Fellows elects two representatives, and Perkins and McDonald were voted in as Freshman Representatives in September. They serve on an executive committee with other Honors Fellows.
McDonald and Perkins are working to strengthen the different aspects of the program.
“We pair upperclassmen with freshmen for a mentor program,” said Perkins. “Last semester, Nick and I got really involved with that, trying to make the relationships really strong.”
McDonald said one of their biggest goals is creating a community atmosphere on the third floor of Whiteside Hall, where all of the freshman Fellows live.
“It’s become very easy among the freshmen to have this sense of home. It’s kind of weird going to other places now and seeing that they don’t have dishes out or shoes in the common room.”
To accomplish this feeling of home, he and Perkins hold events like “family dinner” for their floor.
“Right now, I’m planning a ‘family dinner’ for Sunday. I’m going to cook breakfast for everyone on our floor,” Perkins said, “and we’ll just have some community time.”
They got the idea from one of the juniors and thought it would be a good tradition to continue.
“We use our own funds and set out a tip jar because we’re college students,” Perkins said, laughing. “Everyone on the floor donates a dollar, which covers a good chunk of it.”
McDonald said the idea behind the family dinners is that the honors program should be more of a community. Since the program is only in its third year, it can sometimes just feel like a series of classes.
“People haven’t really found out how the system works, so they haven’t fully bought into it,” McDonald said. “Starting with my class, I’m trying to get people to invest in it a bit more.”
The dinner was one of the first bonding experiences the freshman Fellows had together.
“When we first did it, we didn’t know each other at all,” Perkins said, “but food brings college students together.”
The pair have also learned valuable lessons from their roles as representatives.
“Being the freshman representatives can sometimes be a challenge because we’re the youngest of the executives,” Perkins said. “It’s a balancing act. We have insight, too, so we have to make our voices heard.”
She has also learned how to deal with people and manage problems instead of being overwhelmed by them.
“Everyone thinks differently, and we’ve had disagreements over little stuff. It’s really helped me learn how to take a breath and get perspective.”
Perkins continued, “I probably would’ve been the one getting mad before, but now I’m the mediator. It’s a cool skill to have.”
McDonald has worked on balancing his various responsibilities.
“I kind of crammed it all in my first semester and was very overbooked,” he said, laughing. “I feel like that was a good thing.”
“I failed early, so now I know where I want to spend more of my time. It’s all about finding where you belong and can be impactful.”
Perkins and McDonald are both grateful to represent the Honors Fellows Program.
“I think this program is really special, and I want to help make it even better,” said Perkins. “I have met my best friends through it. I think that’s the best part of being an Honors Fellow personally.”
When students have the freedom to be their authentic selves, they can accomplish so much more.
Junior Timothy Tignor has learned that firsthand at Lyon College.
Tignor, of Cave City, first visited Lyon as a high school freshman in the APPLE Project, which prepares students to succeed in college. He started to come out of his shell thanks to how welcoming the staff and his classmates were.
“I came out to my APPLE group as a member of the LGBT community in ninth grade,” he said. “They really made me feel comfortable.”
He found the same was true when he enrolled as a Lyon student.
“It was an amazing place. I did not feel like anybody was going to discriminate against me or make me feel like less of a person.”
The first day of classes this August, he wore a skirt, a wig, makeup and platform sandals.
“I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. One of my professors said I looked beautiful.”
Tignor continued, “I’ve been authentically myself since the day I came here.”
After being the only openly LGBT student in his high school class, he wanted to take advantage of this new atmosphere to get more involved.
“I was motivated to make myself known on campus.”
Tignor began taking on leadership roles. He is now the president of the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity, the vice president of Spectra Alliance, co-president of the Spanish Club, a resident assistant (RA), a member of the Honor Council, and an employee at the Scot Shop.
He first got involved with Spectra Alliance, a student organization focused on serving the needs of Lyon’s LGBTQ+ community and its allies. He went to Pride in Little Rock with Spectra his freshman year. It was his first time going to a Pride celebration.
“I got to see a drag queen for the first time and almost cried,” he said, laughing. “One thing I enjoy very much is drag in general.”
Since the club did not have a vice president, he took on the role this year. He wanted to support the work Spectra does because it shows LGBT students that their classmates and faculty care about them.
The club tries to involve the campus with LGBT events and activities, such as Transgender Day of Remembrance last semester.
“We held a vigil and put lanterns in Bryan Lake as the club president read off all the names of the trans men and women who had been murdered.”
He continued, “While the need for that day isn’t wonderful, it is wonderful to be able to honor them that way on campus.”
Spectra isn’t the only organization where Tignor has found a sense of community and solidarity.
He was introduced to TKE and “felt very at home” when hanging out with the fraternity brothers. He was initiated as a brother in the spring semester and took on an officer position as secretary.
“There are several LGBT members in TKE!" he said. “I never feel out of place there, which is something I was really worried about at first.”
However, Tignor never thought he would be president of the fraternity.
“It seemed like too much work, and I wasn’t sure I wanted it.”
As president, he is responsible for maintaining a good relationship with the administration and student life, making sure fraternity officers are fulfilling their duties and helping his vice president with recruitment of new brothers.
“Luckily, I already had connections with student life through being an RA,” Tignor said. “I really love personal skills and being so involved in different departments made it easier to be president.”
Being involved also comes with unique challenges, such as balancing coursework with leadership roles.
“Having my brothers to rely on has helped me a lot. That’s why I like Greek life in general. You have such a support system.”
Tignor feels he has improved his leadership skills through his campus involvement. He is learning how to delegate and to accept that he cannot always please everyone.
“I don’t like people being upset with me. The TKE role specifically has helped me realize I can do that and people won’t hate me because they know I have a job to do.”
Through his experiences at Lyon, Tignor has decided he wants to dedicate his life to service.
“My political science courses have helped me realize what a good leader should be versus what they shouldn’t,” he said. “And my anthropology courses have shown me that people are going to be different wherever you are in the world.”
He plans to do AmeriCorps for a few years and then work for a nonprofit organization.
“I would love to be the director of a nonprofit some day.”
Tignor said he will appreciate Lyon and TKE the rest of his life.
“Everyone here has been so warm and made me feel comfortable in my own skin,” he said. “I want to help others feel the same way as a leader.”
Lyon College freshman Wesley Suen believes the best way to address the rigors of college athletics and academics is to “always push yourself to be better.”
His perseverance is already paying off. Suen won first place in the long jump at his first collegiate track meet on Jan. 25 in Jacksonville, Ill. He jumped a distance of 6.49 meters (21.3 feet) and also took fifth place in both the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes.
“I didn’t expect to get first at all,” he said.
The leadup to his first meet was very nerve-wracking.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I just relied on my coaching and all the work I put in on the off-season, and it paid off.”
As a student-athlete, Suen maintains a vigorous schedule to succeed both in the classroom and on the track.
“You’re already at a disadvantage because you miss class sometimes for practices and meets. If you waste time, you fall far behind.”
He learned that the hard way his first semester.
“My grades were good, so I got comfortable,” Suen said. “Getting complacent, I got kind of lazy on a few assignments and didn’t finish with the grade I wanted.”
He chose to build off his failures rather than let them stop him.
“Even though my grades weren’t bad, they weren’t as good as I wanted them to be. I’m working on keeping busy this semester and keeping myself dedicated to the things I have to do.”
Suen has goals in mind for every part of the week.
“I tell myself ‘Okay. I have to have this assignment done by this time today for me to stay on schedule.’ ”
He said track helps him stay on top of his coursework because he knows how important it is to meet his goals and build off of that success.
“I’ve got to give my best at practice or else I’m going to look foolish at the meet. Instead of looking foolish on my report card, I have to give my best in the classroom, too.”
Suen continued, “Always put your best foot forward. Otherwise, you’re wasting your own time.”
He is currently a millisecond off from qualifying for nationals for the 60-meter dash. He is working with Men’s Track and Field Head Coach Milton Williams to close that gap by eating right, hydrating regularly and staying in the best shape he can.
“If I qualify, I will get to compete on the national stage with the best of the best.”
Suen did not expect to do so well in his freshman season.
“I expected to be much further behind than what I was. It just shows if you work hard toward something you’re going to succeed.”
A Lyon College professor has been named a Fulbright U.S. Scholar.
The U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced that Dr. Scott Roulier has received a Fulbright award to Ahmedabad, India, to teach at the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) and to research the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project (SRDP).
Roulier, the David Trimble Sr. Professor of Political Philosophy at Lyon, is one of over 800 U.S. citizens who will teach, conduct research, and/or provide expertise abroad for the 2020-21 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.
Roulier is thrilled and humbled to be the recipient of this award.
“Every person’s life is a repository of the kindnesses shown and the investments made by others. I am grateful for my supportive family and friends-- and especially my colleagues and students at Lyon College.”
While some Fulbright awards focus on teaching or research, Roulier will enter a hybrid program. He will spend about half his time teaching and the other half researching.
He plans to teach two graduate level courses at CEPT: “The Politics of Urban Spaces” and “Critical Urban Theory.”
The Politics of Urban Spaces will explore different urban templates, such as suburbs, and study strategies to make cities more resilient. Critical Urban Theory will emphasize how “space” is socially constructed. The course will use readings from the fields of philosophy, political theory, anthropology, and geography to examine how spaces are produced and how they in turn shape human identity, economic opportunities, and democratic practices.
“This interdisciplinary course looks at how space isn’t just an empty receptacle. We produce these spaces, and that has all sorts of political and philosophical implications.”
For his research project, Roulier will apply postcolonial theory to the construction of the SRDP. Postcolonial theory considers how the political leaders and intellectuals of indigenous populations, though determined to chart a different course, often carry on colonial strategies of the former regime after gaining independence.
“Still, as insightful as postcolonial theory can be, its application can be taken too far, stifling legitimate development.”
He continued, “It is important for architects and urban planners to be able to sensitively and sensibly modify the built environment in order to promote the well-being of all citizens.”
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.
Dwayne Reliford, ‘94, never planned to attend Lyon College, but the school’s personal approach won him over, resulting in a lifelong love of his alma mater.
Reliford developed an aptitude for computers at an early age, putting him on track to be the first one in his family to attend college. His father was a factory worker, and his mother owned a cleaning business.
“My parents stressed education to all of us. They didn’t care what we did. They just wanted us to go to school, be the best we could be, and be able to obtain more things than they had.”
While his father supported historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), he discouraged Reliford from attending one since he wanted to study computer science.
“When you think back 20 to 25 years ago, computers were just starting to break ground,” Reliford said, “and the people working on them were often from different countries.”
“My father said ‘If you’re going to be doing that, you can’t go to an HBCU, son.’ He wanted me to go to a school where I would learn to deal with and mingle with people of different races, cultures, and ethnicities because I was going to be sitting alongside people who didn’t look like me.”
He wanted Reliford to learn not only how to work with computers, but also how to work with people.
“That was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
Reliford began receiving application packets from colleges across the country his senior year of high school and planned on attending the University of Houston. One Thursday night while doing homework in his bedroom, he received a call from former Dean Jonathan Stroud of Lyon College, then Arkansas College.
“He talked to me about prospective student weekend and asked me why I hadn’t filled out an application. I said ‘I don’t know who y’all are. I’m going to be a Houston cougar.’ ”
After the call ended, Reliford found the application packet from Arkansas College. He saw Stroud’s face on the cover and was shocked to realize he had been speaking with the academic dean.
“Houston was so large that I would just be a number, and I was cool with that. It blew my mind that the dean of Arkansas College had personally called me. I figured I must be important.”
Reliford filled out the application that night and had his mom mail it the next morning when she went to work. Months later, he and his parents drove from Texas to Batesville for prospective students weekend.
“It was late February, so everything was covered in snow. It was beautiful,” he said.
“I remember getting in the car that Sunday to head home and saying ‘I think that’s where I want to go.’ I had a prospective student weekend for Houston the following weekend and told my dad I didn’t even want to go. I had fallen in love with Arkansas College.”
After majoring in mathematics with a minor in computer science, Reliford’s professional career spanned industries such as education, banking, finance, oil and gas, and telecommunications. He worked with AT&T as a Senior Database Marketing Manager for the last 14 years.
“The company moved me from Dallas to Houston, and we moved to Atlanta two years ago,” he said. “I had been with AT&T for such a long time that I was pretty much a subject matter expert.”
When, earlier this year, he learned that AT&T would be moving the entire department to California, Reliford began looking for opportunities in Atlanta and recently accepted the position of Senior Marketing Manager for TIAA, a retirement investment firm.
“The role is similar to my previous job, but it’s a totally different industry. For years, I’ve been in telecommunications, and now I’m in banking and finance. It’s a learning process.”
Fortunately, Reliford enjoys the challenge.
“With any change, there’s some apprehension and hesitation, but you’re getting to learn something new every day. I went from being a subject-matter expert to going to their experts with questions.”
“That’s the nature of the beast when you go somewhere new. You have to learn and go through the trenches. In time, I’ll be one of those subject matter experts here, too.”
He credits his adaptability to the well-rounded education he received at Lyon.
“Arkansas College definitely prepared me for my career. There were many times I thought about giving up because my professors were hard as hell.”
Dr. Doug Ponk, Reliford’s biggest mentor, taught him everything he knows about programming and math.
“In class, he would have you do exercises that made me think ‘I could do this so much easier.’ He was teaching you to think outside the box. I learned skills from him that I still use in my career today.”
Reliford concluded that, at Lyon, a liberal arts education meant “professors not only gave you what you needed for whatever field you were studying but also taught you so much about culture, differences, acceptance, and how to work with people. It was a well-rounded full-scale education from every aspect.”
When Lyon College junior José Balderas Jr. looked into volunteer organizations to help out the local Latino community, the last thing he expected was to start the first.
He established Create, Rise, Educate, Achieve, Represent (CREAR) in 2019 to offer educational programs, provide resources to the younger generation, and foster unity through events that bring the Latino community together by celebrating its traditions and culture. Its acronym, “crear,” means “to create” in Spanish.
While CREAR was only recently established, it has already grown from one person to over 1,000 members, who are either volunteering or receiving some sort of benefit from the organization. CREAR is looking to form chapters in other counties, as well as a Lyon College chapter.
Balderas was initially looking for a way to use his experiences to help Latino high school students prepare for college. Since his parents did not know English, Balderas had to figure out the ACT and college applications on his own as a high school student.
He realized there was a language barrier for many Latino households.
“It wasn’t just my family; it was a lot of people,” Balderas said.
According to CREAR, nearly 15 percent of Batesville’s population is Latino. CREAR is the first formalized group in Independence County to address the needs of the Latino community through monthly informational meetings, held in a friendly bilingual format, that anyone can attend.
Balderas reached out to his aunt, attorney Corazon de Jesus Galvan, for advice on how to start a nonprofit. She told him it would be important to file articles of incorporation for the organization, to form a board of directors, and to file for nonprofit status with Arkansas’ secretary of state.
He later partnered with Dean of Campus Life and Diversity Lai-Monté Hunter of Lyon College and Hispanic Outreach Officer Bill Oliva of First Community Bank to make connections.
Balderas said he is grateful to have had mentors to turn to during this process.
“[Hunter] really pushed me. I’m a shy person, but he and several of the professors encouraged me to pursue this,” Balderas said.
“I felt comfortable asking for help and asking for pointers on what to do. The support system at Lyon was important in my life and helped me get CREAR going.”
CREAR held its first inauguration in the Brown Chapel Fine Arts Building on Dec. 7, inducting both its board of directors and its Honor Court composed of area high school students from Batesville and Southside.
The organization has already hosted a few events. The Lyon Fiesta, held in September on Lyon’s campus, honored the Latino culture and traditions with dance, music, food, and games. In October, the organization hosted the Cena de Exito (Dinner of Success), which recognized the accomplishments of area high school students.
CREAR has also given out backpacks full of school supplies to around 50 children in foster care and held community clinics at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
Balderas said it sometimes feels weird to operate a volunteer organization as a college student.
“It’s awkward that the board members are looking to me, and I’m the youngest one,” he said, laughing.
“I’m used to taking orders from adults, so it amazes me that this is actually happening.”
CREAR’s initial focus was on preparing high school students for higher education, but members quickly saw the need for adult education as well, including financial literacy. According to PolitiFact California, roughly 40% of the Latino population nationwide is hesitant to call 911.
“Many don’t know how, are afraid to call, or just can’t speak the language,” Balderas said.
The overall goal is to help Latino community members feel confident where they live.
“I want CREAR to be a voice for the Latino community and to let them know there are resources and opportunities out there,” Balderas said. “I want to minimize any fear people have.”
He believes CREAR may be his career calling.
“I’ve always wanted to help people. When I came to Lyon, I didn’t know what to do,” Balderas said. “Now that this is getting big, I’m thinking about majoring in Spanish and business administration to help me help CREAR.”
CREAR plans to file for nonprofit 501c3 status in 2020.
“We’ve gotten so much positive feedback not just from the Batesville community but also from Little Rock and other areas.”
Balderas never imagined CREAR would get this big this fast.
“Bill Muniz, who helped me establish a board, said if we can get a good strong foothold in Arkansas then we could expand to other states and maybe go national.”
Balderas concluded, “I’m just glad we’re doing something good and that people actually like it. I want to continue expanding horizons for Latino families and getting them more involved in the community.”
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.