Odyssey Medal

Mike Mills ’74

Remarks by Mike Mills ’74 after receiving his Odyssey Medal for Professional and Leadership Development, Nov. 14, 2019:

Why me?

I received this letter from President Bill and it’s only three paragraphs long, but I read it over and over and over again.

Why me?

Then in my collectiveness I said that I will google the Odyssey Award. I have known about the award since I have friends that have received it, but I didn’t really understand the program or the Odyssey. So, I googled it. And then when I read the names of the people that have received this award the question grew louder. WHY ME?

I called Pamela Owen, and said why me? She told me that “we have been watching you for quite some time.” (pointing at Pamela) Is that not true?

Then as I read more and more about the Odyssey Award, I realized that I did have an Odyssey. It actually started at Hendrix when George Spencer and I bought the first two canoes that Hendrix College ever owned. It started when I wanted to have the Ecology Club, because remember back in the early ‘70s the ecology movement and the back to nature movement was what life was all about. That is what grabbed my soul and said this is what I want to do.

It was the making of a dream that came true. It took persistence and it took hard work, but 44 years later, I now live the dream that I dreamed back then. I am so happy to have done what was passionate for me. Following your passion is the key to many, many successes. 

I’d like to offer my congratulations to Pat and Beka and to all those who have received this award in the past. 

I want to thank particularly the board of directors and the chairman; they are the ones that select these recipients. I promise that I will send a check for the cost of the medal so that there will be no expense. 

I want to thank my family, my daughters, my son, my great friends and particularly my wife because they have all been on this journey with me. If it weren’t for them, I would not be here tonight.

You know I am an ex-Marine. I think all of us should thank every American man and woman serving in the military because they protect our freedom. That allows us to have a college like Hendrix and a program like the Odyssey program at Hendrix. So, for those people I want to thank them. 

I have several awards, but this award will hang the highest among them all because Hendrix means so much to me. I have a saying that if you survive four years at Hendrix College you will succeed no matter what you do. I am a canoe operator.

I’m going to leave you tonight with Robert Frost.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted that I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— 

I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.