Your Hendrix Odyssey

April 2007 Odyssey Grant Recipients

 Hendrix Odyssey Program
Project Funding
April 2007

Since August of 2005, more than half a million dollars in grants have supported Odyssey projects proposed by Hendrix students and faculty. This April, the Committee on Experiential Learning awarded Odyssey Grants totaling $60,977.44 to 11 projects for the fall of 2007, bringing the two-year total to $530,000. Eight were proposed by students and three by faculty members.

 These projects celebrate the entrepreneurship of students and promote exciting research opportunities both on campus and with Vietnamese counterparts.

 The Odyssey Grant recipients include:

Kristin Andreen and Hunter Heres (founders), and McCaull Vandergriff and Sarah Dunaway (2007-2008 leaders)
Project:  “Students Helping Students”
Category: Service to the World
Sponsor: Rev. JJ Whitney

Graduating seniors Kristin Andreen and Hunter Heres created and directed Students Helping Students (SHS), an after-school tutoring program. Their legacy will continue as McCaull Vandergriff and Sarah Dunaway become program leaders this fall. Hendrix students work with children of all ages at the Pine Street Neighborhood Outreach Center, located near campus. The tutors provide food and scholastic supplies, and they help children finish or review homework. If the children don’t bring homework, the tutors assign an academic task for them to complete. Hard work is also rewarded with an extracurricular activity or field trip. The students hope that the SHS program will create new bonds between the Hendrix and Conway communities, benefiting both.

Liz Blackman, Amanda Brooks, Andrew Fiser, Will Green, Kathryn Kirk, Katie Robinson, Katie Pearce, and Hilary Stine
Project:  “Academic Explorations of Religion”
Category: Special Projects
Sponsor: Dr. John Sanders

Liz Blackman, Amanda Brooks, Andrew Fiser, Will Green, Kathryn Kirk, Katie Robinson, Katie Pearce, and Hilary Stine are all drawn to the academic study of religion. Their interests range from religion and social justice to scripture and philosophy. Their graduate and career goals include seminary, ministry and faith-based non-profit work. These common interests and goals led to their plan to attend this fall’s joint conference by the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature in San Diego, California. Scholars and students from around the world will be able to interact with each other and hear paper presentations from a variety of religious disciplines, giving the Hendrix students the opportunity to explore their own academic interests in religious scholarship.

Rebecca Callahan
Project:  “Organic Farming: Learning and Growing”
Category: Global Awareness
Sponsor: Dr. Liz Gron

Through the program World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, Rebecca Callahan will exchange work as a farmhand for lodging. She will travel to Spain to learn about the different farming techniques and environments in Spain. Callahan hopes to gain a greater understanding of the work and processes of farming while improving her language skills and immersing herself in a culture far removed from popular tourist sites. While recognizing that farming is one of the most labor-intensive occupations in the world, Callahan says, “The farming portion of this Odyssey is very important to me. My brief period as a farmhand will hopefully give me some grasp of the total work involved in farming.”

Sarah Ervin
Project:  “Retro Robot:  Supporting Young Entrepreneurship and Creative Collaboration”
Category: Special Projects
Sponsor: Hillary Looney

Most college students don’t own their own business, but Sarah Ervin is committed to making hers a success. In 2006, she established Retro Robot (, an online vintage boutique and craft shop that offers handcrafted and recycled products. It specializes in vintage clothing as well as uniquely handmade clothing, jewelry and gifts designed and produced by Ervin and other young artists and artisans. Her funding will help her expand her business and develop her entrepreneurial skills. “Retro Robot allows me to combine my interests, talents, and values in an endeavor that I am immensely proud of and passionate about,” Ervin says. “It is a daily affirmation of my abilities as an artist, craftsperson and entrepreneur.”

Alberto Gomez
Project:  “Health Service Internship in Costa Rica”
Category: Service to the World
Sponsor: Dr. Andrea Duina

One day, Alberto Gomez plans to be Alberto Gomez, M.D. With the goal of being a physician, he is interested in learning more about the healthcare settings in other countries. In the coming winter break, he will travel to Costa Rica to volunteer through a healthcare internship program sponsored by Global Crossroad. During his stay, he will work closely with local doctors, assisting them with various tasks and duties, as well as participating in patient-contact service including the distribution of food and supplies. Global Crossroad encourages volunteers like Gomez to contribute their own personal skills and interests was they work on service projects to provide healthcare to disadvantaged and at-risk people in Costa Rica.

Ryan McCullough
Project:  “Experiential Learning in Professional Photography”
Category: Professional and Leadership Development
Sponsor: Prof. Lyle Rupert

Photography is Ryan McCullough’s passion, and he plans to pursue it as a profession.  To help achieve that goal, he’ll travel to Italy this fall for a 7-day workshop in Venice with Yervant Zanazanian, regarded as one of the world’s most successful and talented professional photographers. He’ll learn shooting techniques, workflow enhancements and business skills, and he’ll visit the GraphiStudio Corporation, which prints and binds some of the highest quality and most beautiful photography albums in the industry. The second part of his project is attending the Professional Photographers of America convention, which is one of the largest professional photography meetings in the world.  Nearly 10,000 photographers will attend the convention in Tampa, Fla. McCullough will attend workshops, classes and presentations on industry-specific business and marketing ideas. Professional Photographers of America will publish an article by McCullough about his experiences in Venice and Tampa through their student organization, Student Photographic Society.

Jared Roberts
Project:  “The Body Technology Connection”
Category: Special Projects
Sponsor: Dr. J.J. Mayo

Jared Roberts will utilize the facilities and equipment in the new Athletic and Wellness Center at Hendrix for his project, a scientific look at the impact of sports nutrition and exercise on the body. For three months, he will commit himself to vigorous training, healthful eating and nutritional supplementation. He will test his biometrics and sport performance parameters before and after the testing phase. Roberts will also use new technology developed by Nike and Apple; a computer chip in his shoes will track heart rate, distance and caloric expenditure. At the end of his project, he’ll present the results of his research. “I see this as a chance to change the way the community thinks about diet, nutrition, athletic training and supplements, and exercise,” Roberts says.

Kelly Zalocusky
Project:  “Armadillo effects on the forest floor community”
Category: “Undergraduate Research”
Sponsor: Dr. Matt Moran

The armadillo family contains 22 species, all native to South America. Of these, only the Nine-banded armadillo has expanded into the United States, migrating into Arkansas only as recently as 1940. This armadillo is a burrower and a forager, and its behavior affects the forest floor community through its predation on arthropods and through physical disturbance of leaf litter. Kelly Zalocusky will conduct her research in a mature oak-hickory forest in Conway County that is a known habitat for the armadillos.  She hopes to discover the impact of armadillos on the mechanisms controlling insect populations on the forest floor, which can affect the function of the forest ecosystem.

Dr. Deb Skok and Dr. Alex Vernon
Project:  “Vietnam: Education in Transition”
Category: Undergraduate Research

The Vietnamese government is committed to doi moi (economic reform), which has an impact on the country’s educational system. Dr. Deb Skok and Dr. Alex Vernon will lead a team of six to eight students on a research project to assess the current state of education in light of these reforms. The group will coordinate their efforts with Vietnamese counterparts from the Institute for Educational Research in Ho Chi Minh City. Plans include working on-site in a rural school to collaborate with Vietnamese educators in the classrooms about curriculum issues. Participants will have intercultural interactions with peers, teachers and other educators, and young students—along with cultural immersion.

Dr. Jennifer Peszka
Project:  “Psychology 480 Advanced Research”
Category: Undergraduate Research

Katherine Atkinson, Kevin Autry, Elizabeth Hood, Michael Lemmi and Peter Zunick will work with Dr. Jennifer Peszka in an on-going research program that focuses on sleep. Each student will be a primary researcher on at least one sleep project and will assist in conducting others. The four sleep studies offered involve the relationship of chronotype (night owl or early bird) to academic performance, the effect of sleep deprivation on group decision-making, the impact of sleepiness on eating behavior, and cognitive activity during sleepiness. The students will use questionnaires, diaries and electrophysiology to explore these topics.

Prof. Mary Richardson
Project:  “Hendrix Model United Nations”
Category: Special Projects

A delegation of 16 Hendrix students will represent Romania and the Republic of Moldova at the American Model United Nations Conference this November. The students will prepare for the conference in regular meetings in the fall. They have the academic task of diplomatically representing delegates from countries around the world—including doing research on their country’s unique perspectives, opinions, policies and ideas. At the conference, the students will present their country’s position on issues and work with other delegates to resolve conflicts.