By Rob O'Connor '95
Meghan Kerin '13Your Hendrix Odyssey: Engaging in Active Learning encourages students to see their undergraduate education as one stop on a lifelong journey of self-discovery.
Since Hendrix Odyssey was launched in 2005, the College has awarded more than $1.45 million in competitive grants to support hands-on learning projects that help students explore their academic interests and pursue their passions.
Hendrix Magazine is proud to highlight just a few examples of talented graduates whose musical journeys began at Hendrix. Each one exemplifies the value of engaged learning and the liberal arts in preparing students to lead successful professional careers and live fulfilled personal lives.
For Ben Nichols '96, Hendrix Odyssey didn't formally exist when he was a student. Yet he is seeing the world from the concert stage at Austin City Limits Music Festival, Bonnaroo, and Coachella. For Justin Warren '09, a member of the first class to graduate under the Odyssey Program, the journey is just beginning.
The entrepreneurial and artistic spirit of these musical alumni is alive and well with Hendrix students today like Meghan Kerin '13.
Meghan, a sophomore pre-med major from Russellville, plays electric guitar and sings in Poisonwood, a "melodic" metal band.
This summer, she completed an Odyssey project, earning credit in the Professional and Leadership Development project category for organizing and promoting a 10-day concert tour. Hendrix Theatre Professor and rock guitarist Danny Grace '77 was her faculty adviser on the project.
"It went really smoothly, which surprised me," she said of the tour.
Much of the band's initial exposure came from the Internet, she said. The group sold much of their music through iTunes, as well as in person at local shows.
"That's one reason we could afford to tour," she said of the music sales.
Meghan also promoted the band on YouTube.com. Like a modern day Joan Jett, she has been performing covers of metal songs on electric guitar since she was 16 under the name "Meghan the Metal Queen." She has had more than 3 million views.
On tour, Poisonwood played shows in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston, Texas, as well as Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach, Fla. The six band members traveled in an SUV, pulling an equipment trailer, and stayed in hotels along the way.
After expenses (including paying for merchandise the band will continue to sell), the group cleared about $500. Not exactly Metallica-level millions, but Meghan is grateful for the learning experience and the opportunity to perform.
"I was surprised by how much promotion it really requires," she said. "And I realize now how important it is to make connections with venues and make a good impression. That was the biggest lesson."
It was also a very musically rewarding experience for the band, she said.
"At our Wednesday show in Houston, we made a transition as a band. I felt like we really connected for the first time on stage," she said. "We gave the best show we've ever given ... we were like a force."
To earn Odyssey credit, the project required 100 hours of work.
"That wasn't difficult," she said. One of the most difficult logistical challenges of the tour was identifying a place to play on an off-night between bigger markets like Austin and Houston. "It takes a lot of patience and perseverance to do that."
For her next Odyssey project, Meghan is considering something in the Artistic Creativity category, possibly a solo instrumental "neoclassical meets metal” guitar project. She also wants to volunteer at a hospital to support her pre-med major.
"Pre-med is the main reason I came to Hendrix," she said, but music will always have a place in her life.
"Music is not the most stable career, but I do love it and always want to keep it in my life."