Hendrix College recognized Founders Day with a convocation service honoring three of its alumni who have made an impact in their chosen fields.
Elizabeth Langston, Charles Chalfant and Derek Lowe were awarded Odyssey Medals at the Founders Day Convocation ceremony Oct. 24.
“Today we honor all of our founders by bestowing these Odyssey Medals on three outstanding individuals who, by virtue of their lives and their accomplishments, demonstrate not just the value of liberal arts education, but the value of a Hendrix education and the impact of a well-lived life in the world,” said Acting President W. Ellis Arnold III.
Langston was awarded the Odyssey Medal for Artistic Creativity. A film writer and producer, Langston co-founded and acts as executive director of the 48 Hour Film Project, which has drawn people from 120 cities around the world to tackle the task of making a film in just two days.
Film was not always what Langston thought she would end up doing, she told the crowd at the convocation ceremony. She majored in international relations at Hendrix and went on to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to study psychology. She then moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked as a researcher.
On the side, she played in a band and wrote screenplays. A friend heard about a 24-hour play production and they decided to apply the concept to film making.
“When I went to Hendrix, I never in my life thought about independent film,” she said. “Whatever you guys are thinking about doing 20 years from now, you could end up — I don’t know — directing intergalactic traffic or something.”
Odyssey Medal for Professional and Leadership Development recipient Chalfant said his life in physics started with a professor simply asking him to consider physics as a major — “and I said, ‘OK,’” he said nonchalantly.
Chalfant is president and CEO of Space Photonics, Inc., an optical communications company.
“I have not learned that greed is good like you see in the movies, but I’ve learned that delusion is better,” he said. “I actually believed that I was going to be an astronaut and applied nine times in a row, so I was very delusional. I accomplished a lot of good work in those years and I’m just as delusional today because the future looks bright.”
The third honoree, Lowe, received the Odyssey Medal for Research for his work with pharmaceuticals and his blog “In the Pipeline.”
Lowe said he was conducting research as a student at Hendrix and his love for discovery has not dwindled since then. Now, he is investigating “undruggable” targets and said he never knows exactly what he might discover when working in the lab.
“These diseases are still with us — Alzheimer’s, diabetes, schizophrenia — I haven’t cured them; none of us have,” he said. “But it has been a tremendous experience figuring out things about these diseases that we did not know before ... It would be the crowning moment of my career as a scientist if I could put a hand on something that really did help with one of these diseases, and it could happen on Monday when I go back to work.”
The Odyssey Medal is awarded by the Hendrix College Board of Trustees to alumni whose personal and professional achievements exemplify the values of engaged liberal arts and sciences education.
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