Hendrix College’s five newest Odyssey Medalists took time to thank former professors, classmates, family members and others as they accepted their awards during the annual Founders’ Day convocation on Feb. 8.
Walter O. Pryor ’87 received the Odyssey Medal for Professional and Leadership Development. He is a principal with the government relations and public affairs firm The Podesta Group. He was the legislative director for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, worked for the National Association of Attorneys General, and held other prestigious positions with the U.S. Department of Justice.
"To whatever degree my own Odyssey inspires or gives foundation to my own children, to students here at Hendrix, to any fellow human being, please consider it as partial repayment for what has been given to me,” Pryor said. “In honoring me you honor yourselves and all that is so wonderful about Hendrix College.”
Dr. Jack L. Blackshear Jr. ’64 of Little Rock was the recipient of the Odyssey Medal for Service to the World. A physician with the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Dr. Blackshear was honored for the numerous mission trips he has led to Honduras. He has taken more than 100 medical students with him over the years to help serve those without regular access to physicians.
“Of all the things that you have taught me- the Christian ideas and service to other people, to always hold the high standards that your faculty has always portrayed- I’ve always remembered that and I always will.“
Kenneth R. Nixon ’65 was awarded the Odyssey Medal for Special Projects. Nixon was lauded for his development of a distance care giving system that enables informal care to be provided to elderly family members over the Internet, allowing older adults to stay independent in their homes longer. The system, which has been featured by NBC’s Today Show and in major news publications throughout the world, was originally created by Nixon and his two brothers Vic ’62 and Wade ’81 so their mother, who had Alzheimer’s, could remain independent on their family farm in Lavaca. Nixon used the technology to create Caregiver Technologies, Inc.
“We were just doing what we knew how to do,” Nixon told the audience. “Now we’re in the business of changing people’s lives for the better.”
Bracken P. Darrell ’85 received the Odyssey Medal for Global Awareness. Since graduating from Hendrix, Darrell has held leadership positions in a variety of multi-national companies including Proctor & Gamble, General Electric and Gillette. As the current president of Braun, Darrell leads a $1.6 billion small appliance company based in Frankfurt, Germany. Eighty-five percent of the company’s sales are outside of North America.
“At a liberal arts college like Hendrix you get a diversity of interests, and part of the outcome of diversity of interests is a diversity of friends.” Darrell said. “I’m very blessed with a mind and a heart that will always be filled with Hendrix.”
Natalie Canerday ’85 was awarded the Odyssey Medal for Artistic Creativity. Since earning a degree in theatre at Hendrix, Canerday has given stand-out performances in a number of films, including One False Move, Sling Blade, and October Sky. She and others in Billy Bob Thornton’s Sling Blade were collectively nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Cast in the Motion Picture.
“I want to commend Hendrix on having such an incredible, inspiring faculty,” she said. “Any time I’m on a stage – any time I’m wearing make-up and pantyhose – Dr. Henenberg [my Hendrix drama professor] is with me.”