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Hendrix Receives $25,000 Gift from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield

Gift to sponsor Disco Tray Studios and Career Term Power Hour

Jason Carter, Manager of Talent Selection for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and Dr. Mark Goadrich, Professor of Computer Science and faculty advisor to Disco Tray Studios. / PHOTO BY HENDRIX COLLEGE OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS

CONWAY, Ark. (August 4, 2023) — Hendrix College has been awarded $25,000 from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

The gift will support Hendrix computer science students honing their software development skills through the College’s Disco Tray Studios, as well as the Professional Power Hour segment of the College’s annual Career Term, a yearly intensive career exploration and preparation program for sophomore students.

“Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is pleased to support the innovative learning initiatives of the Hendrix College Department of Mathematics and Computer Science,” said Odell Nickleberry, vice president and chief human resources officer for Arkansas Blue Cross. “The community connection of Disco Tray Studios for social good is particularly appealing to our own corporate mission. And we have experienced firsthand the caliber of Hendrix students who have participated in our nationally recognized internship program and who now work for our company. We believe this gift is an investment in the futures of Hendrix graduates and in the companies fortunate to have them on their teams in the future.”

Formed in July 2020 by Dr. Mark Goadrich, chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Hendrix, Disco Tray Studios is a community-focused software development initiative at Hendrix (“Disco Tray” is a reference to a beloved Hendrix community tradition in the campus dining hall).

Disco Tray Studios employs students to develop interactive educational games, apps, and websites for social good. It also provides opportunities for students to execute and complete longer-term software development projects that support the technological needs of the local community. In addition to developing coding and other professional technology skills, students sharpen their skills in communication, project management, and teamwork by working with clients on campus and in the community, and their teammates.

Among the studio’s past projects, students released Good Vibes, a well-being mobile app for iOS and Android that helps users track their moods and get inspired, and built a website for the Hendrix Arboretum, a catalog of over 1,000 trees across the Hendrix campus. Disco Tray Studios has been featured on KATV.

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s support will provide two academic semesters of funding for a project team of at least six students to work with multiple community nonprofit partners on websites, databases, mobile applications, and other technology needs that serve the missions of those partner organizations. It will also underwrite network servers to house the work of Disco Tray Studios and provide funding for Disco Tray Studios students to attend and present their work at professional conferences.

“We are extremely grateful to receive this gift from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield to support our work on community-focused projects,” said Goadrich. “Our students will be able to experience the full lifecycle of software engineering projects beyond the classroom in a way that prepares them not only for their careers, but as engaged citizens able to enact change through technology.”

A portion of the Arkansas Blue Cross gift will also help underwrite the Professional Power Hour section of Career Term. Launched in 2018, Career Term includes a series of intensive experience-based workshops at the end of Winter Break designed to help Hendrix sophomores get a head start on their career goals and put professional skills into practice. Career Term workshops emphasize self-awareness to assist students in building confidence and clarity in decision making about their future; practical and professional skill building to capitalize on opportunities; and communication skills for the real world. The program has been featured nationally by The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Washington Post, and Inside Higher Ed

“This gift will greatly benefit our students’ career development at Hendrix,” said Leigh Lassiter-Counts, director of career services at Hendrix. “Career Term programming – in particular, the Professional Power Hour – helps our students not only learn the ‘small things’ like a proper handshake or how to dress professionally, but also the ‘big things’ like articulating to future employers the career skills and competencies gained through a Hendrix liberal arts education.”

The Arkansas Blue Cross gift represents “a very meaningful investment in the types of engaged learning and professional development opportunities we offer at Hendrix,” said Hendrix President Dr. Karen K. Petersen.

“We are deeply grateful to Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield for their generous support of Disco Tray Studios and Career Term,” said Petersen. “These programs exemplify our commitment to preparing students for professional success when they graduate.”

See more photos from the reception

About Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield

Founded in 1948, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is the largest health insurer in Arkansas. Arkansas Blue Cross and its affiliates have more than 3,200 employees. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is comprised of 34 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans that collectively provide healthcare coverage for nearly 106 million members — one in three Americans.

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit