||Writer and alumna George Ella Lyon gives thanks for her years at Centre
RELEASED: November 26, 2009
By Laura Pasley
DANVILLE, KY— One of Centre’s notable alumnae, George Ella Lyon ’71, has many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving—one of which is her time at Centre.
"It was the perfect place for me," she says. "I'm thankful for all I received there, for the excitement and discovery and wonderful friends of those years."
"Pencils and paper, all those books, kids to play with, colored chalk, teachers, recess," Lyon lists. "Something new every day."
At Centre, Lyon turned her childhood passions for words and singing into majors in English and music. In fact, many of her favorite Centre memories come from her experiences related to her majors.
"One of my all-time favorite classes was Fine Arts and Literature, which I took as a freshman," she explains. "It focused on 20th century works, and almost all of them were so new and exciting to me that I could hardly sleep."
She adds that she can also remember the "wonderful intensity of Roberta White's class in modern poetry. It was so clear that she loved the subject and loved teaching, and that love illuminated us all."
Lyon's participation in the choir while at Centre also garnered memorable moments. One of these in particular, she explains, "took place right before Christmas of freshman year, when I was part of the choir that sang for a program held in the library. We stood on the marble steps, below angels students had made and hung from the ceiling, and it felt just right. Later that night, the faculty came and caroled us in the dorms and that was magical."
(This tradition, the annual faculty and staff Christmas caroling, is one that Centre students continue to look forward to every holiday season.)
After her time at Centre, Lyon attended the University of Arkansas and Indiana University-Bloomington for her M.A. and Ph.D., respectively.
In her expansive career, Lyon has published more than 21 pieces of literature, including books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction meant for children, young adults and adults.
Centre, she says, prepared her for learning and teaching later in life.
"It prepared me by awakening my curiosity in many directions and giving me the skills to find things out and supporting the courage to keep trying. Also, I look back to the example of those who taught me, and their love of learning and teaching nourishes my own."
Lyon has won numerous awards, including the 1989 Golden Kite Award, given by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, for Borrowed Children; Book of the Year Award, given by Appalachian Writers Association, for Catalpa; and Best Books of the Year, Publishers Weekly, for Who Came Down that Road?
For those just beginning their time at Centre, Lyon advises: "Explore as many subjects as you can. Don't just follow the path you planned before you came. And work for a balance between class work and other kinds of fun."
But for seniors, getting ready to embark on their life after Centre, Lyon says not to "forget your inner life in the busy days ahead. As St. Teresa said, 'Do what most kindles love in you.'"
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
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