Lyon senior designs bicentennial coin for Independence County

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.”

Lyon students make mountain of research out of anthill

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.”

Passion for leadership: Lyon junior leads through persistence, empathy

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 students guaranteed admission interviews with Arkansas Colleges of Health Education

President Dr. W. Joseph King signed an agreement with the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE) in Fort Smith, guaranteeing that Lyon College students, who meet eligibility requirements, will be granted an admissions interview to any of ACHE’s programs.

“This agreement is a fantastic opportunity for our students who are interested in health sciences,” said King. “Preparing students to excel after graduation is an important part of the College’s mission, and this agreement contributes to those efforts.”

These programs include the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM), the School of Physical Therapy (ACHE PT), the School of Occupational Therapy (ACHE OT) and the Master of Science in Biomedicine (MSB) program.

Lyon Provost Melissa Taverner said ACHE approached Lyon to establish this collaborative agreement because of the exceptionally strong preparation for healthcare careers that Lyon students receive. 

“Our admission statistics for post-graduate healthcare professional programs regularly exceed national averages and is a testament to the rigor of our programs,” Taverner said. 

She continued, “Our graduates go on to serve their communities as doctors, dentists, therapists, pharmacists, and in many other professional fields. That success is rooted in the Lyon experience.”

To be guaranteed an admissions interview, Lyon students must meet the following requirements:

  • Be either a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
  • Complete all prerequisite coursework prior to matriculation into their respective program.
  • Achieve the following minimum grade point averages (GPA):
    • ARCOM- 3.5 overall GPA, of which the overall science GPA must be at least 3.4.
    • MSB- 3.2 overall GPA, of which the overall science GPA must be at least 3.0.
    • ACHE PT- 3.5 overall GPA.
    • ACHE OT- 3.5 overall GPA.
  • Sit for a healthcare professional entrance examination and receive the following minimum scores:
    • ARCOM- Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) score of 500
    • MSB- MCAT score of 490; Dental Admission Test (DAT) score of 18; or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score of 301
    • ACHE PT- as determined by the ACHE PT Admissions Committee
    • ACHE OT- as determined by the ACHE OT Admissions Committee

ACHE’s guarantee of an interview does not guarantee admission into any ACHE program.

“We are excited to become partners with Lyon College,” stated Brian Kim, President of ACHE.  “We have a goal to educate and retain our Arkansas students in our medical education programs.  Lyon College students have a reputation of being students of excellence and we look forward to welcoming them to our campus.”

Lyon senior designs bicentennial coin for Independence County

A Lyon senior’s design has been selected for Independence County’s bicentennial coin.

Samantha Long holds the coin she designed

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.”

Lyon students named ‘outstanding delegates’ at Model UN

Lyon students were recognized as “Outstanding Delegates” for the first time at the Arkansas Collegiate Model United Nations (ACMUN) on Nov. 6.

Kristen Towery, Samantha Baxley, Timmy Tignor, Charles Fancyboy, Taylor Fitterling and Jihye Jung participated in this year’s conference. Baxley and Tignor were named Outstanding Delegates, and Towery, Fitterling and Fancyboy were named Honorary Outstanding Delegates.

“Lyon did really well this year,” said senior Timmy Tignor. “We had three new students who had no Model UN experience, and we did awesome!”

He continued, “The standout moment was that Lyon had never won an Outstanding Delegate before. I was so happy to see that we were able to do this well.”

Jihye Jung said the students have been meeting every Thursday with Assistant  Professor of Political Science Dr. Jaeyun Sung to practice opening statements, speech scripts and how to write resolutions for Model UN. They even virtually practiced in a preliminary session with the Model UN team at Harding University before the conference.

The ACMUN conference is usually held at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway, but the event was held virtually over Zoom this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I think everyone adjusted pretty quickly,” Jung said. “Also, since the Zoom meeting makes us change our username and background, it was even easier to notice delegates and their representative countries.”

Jung said this year’s topic was “Preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.” The students worked to solve the problem by establishing a new council, which they named the Arab Cooperation and Defense Council (ACDC).

“It was impressive that we made our own council, named it, and made our own rules,” Jung said. “Our first resolution was unanimously agreed upon, and we all applauded together.”

“The hard work put into drafting and passing two committee resolutions by other members of the Council of the Arab League was truly inspiring,” said junior Taylor Fitterling said. 

Fitterling chose to represent Syria and enjoyed researching his country’s stances on particular issues. 

He said he learned three mains lessons at the conference: be careful when choosing a country that has not engaged in much international activity, be certain to “go beyond or expand upon your country’s ‘official’ position to deliver persuasive arguments and obtain support for your resolution,” and be willing to collaborate and compromise with other student delegations in order to foster a friendly and cooperative “international” environment.

Jung enjoyed how a small group of students was able to share their thoughts, resolve the problems at hand and achieve peace.

“Seeing us come together, I imagined a world without conflict and dispute.”

She is planning to attend graduate school to study international affairs, peaceful resolution and human rights in particular.

“Even though it’s just a Model UN, all the delegates were serious and critically thinking about the issues that the Middle East has today,” Jung said. “I found that we can definitely make a better world.”

Lyon’s Model UN team will compete again at the Midwest Model UN (MMUN) in February.

“The Model UN team this year brought well-deserved outcomes. They really worked hard throughout the semester,” Sung said. “I believe our students are prepared to face the next level of competition.”

Lyon College and Stone Ward announce data science partnership

Lyon College and Stone Ward have created a data science partnership, which provides real-world experience to students by allowing them to collaborate and work alongside Stone Ward’s analytics team.

The partnership will focus on analyzing client data and offer analyses and recommendations to Stone Ward and its clients to help move their business forward. In addition to hands-on experience, Lyon students will also have the opportunity to earn academic credit by participating in micro-internships with Stone Ward. 

Stone Ward, a Little Rock based advertising agency, contacted Lyon after the College announced its addition of the data science program this past spring. Lyon College is the first private college to add data science as a major in Arkansas. 

“Stone Ward is committed to building good for our clients and the community. This collaboration will allow us to share our knowledge and resources with the students at Lyon College to help advance the field of data analytics,” said Millie Ward, president of Stone Ward. “With today’s business climate becoming increasingly more digital-driven, we hope that more students will consider data and analytics as a career path for their future.” 

Lyon’s new data science professor, Dr. Torumoy Ghoshal, said finding access to real-world data can be difficult, so the partnership is a great opportunity for students. Working with “real-world data” will prepare students “for real-world challenges,” he said.

Associate Professor of Computer Science David Sonnier agreed, “The use of real data will allow us to bring our students from the ‘toy data’ level to the next level, which reflects the real world.”

“As one of the first agencies to form this type of innovative partnership, Stone Ward will have even greater access to some of the brightest, up-and-coming analytical minds in the state to enhance our already deep business insights into custom algorithms, models, and machine learning,“ said Brett Parker, director of media and digital services at Stone Ward. “Our marketing analytics will be even stronger moving forward, which is a desperately needed business solution amid the exponential growth of data in virtually all aspects of life.”

“The projects they will complete are likely to make their resumes stand out,” said Ghoshal. “The potential internship opportunities will give them first-hand experience with industry level data science projects.”

According to the organizations’ memorandum of understanding, students will use the consumer information in several ways to help clients, such as selecting media channels to promote a particular product, determining company performance, and finding effective price points on particular products or services.

Provost Melissa Taverner added that the partnership “also will require students to practice effective interpersonal communication with Stone Ward professionals.”

“This kind of experience is ultimately our goal for all of our students,” she said.

Lyon College students make mountain of research out of anthill

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.”

Lyon College student Harmon contracts with Army National Guard

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.”