Carolyn Lyden, a double major in English literature and writing/communication from Sevierville, was named the 2010 Outstanding Senior at Maryville College during the Academic Awards Ceremony held at the Clayton Center for the Arts April 17.
Established by the Maryville College Alumni Association in 1974 and first presented in 1975, the Outstanding Senior award recognizes those students whose overall record of academic achievement and participation in extracurricular activities stand out as most exemplary.
The purpose of the award is to recognize a senior who has been active in a broad range of activities in college, who exemplifies an “ideal” Maryville College graduate and who has the potential to be an outstanding alumnus/alumna.
Lyden, the daughter of Celi McLandon of Sevierville, enrolled at Maryville College in 2006.
While at the College, Lyden has served as a Bonner Scholar for four years and a resident assistant for three years. She also played clarinet for four years in the Maryville College Jazz Band.
She was a member of the Maryville College Literacy Corps and Bookstore Advisory Committee. She interned at the Center for Strong Communities on campus and WUOT, the National Public Radio affiliate in Knoxville.
Lyden utilized her writing skills on MC publications by serving as editor of Impressions, a literary magazine, and staff writer for The Highland Echo, the campus newspaper.
Off campus, she volunteered for the Gateway to Independence, Alternative Spring Break, American Youth Soccer Organization, YMCA and Maryville Outdoor Outreach Service Exchange. She also tutored students at the Sylvan Learning Center and Maryville Middle School.
In presenting the nominee at the awards ceremony, Dr. Jeff Fager, vice president and dean of the College, said, “Carolyn’s plans for the future are less concrete than many other [seniors], but she definitely possesses a passion for service. She envisions working within the community, perhaps in an organization like The Gate, where she can assist those with physical limitations, or coaching youth soccer, or helping a nonprofit organization write grants.”
Only those seniors with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 are considered for nomination for the Outstanding Senior Award. A committee that includes student, faculty and staff representation is given the responsibility of choosing five finalists. Those finalists are invited to respond in writing to questions about their view of their future role as alumni of Maryville College, their goals for the future and their understanding of how the College has influenced them and helped shape those goals.
In her essay, Lyden expressed interest in pursuing graduate school in English or writing.
“I hope to integrate my service experience into my career, whether it is through direct service or promotion of service and service organizations through media. I am allowing myself to be open to any opportunity for service that comes my way because maintaining a service role in the community is an imperative for me.”
She pointed out that she respects one particular aspect of Maryville College: “the finding of self and, through that, the discovery of vocation.”
“Maryville College has taught me that nothing outside of myself can complete me, that I must be complete in myself…And it is when I know and love myself fully that I can begin to discern my vocation in life,” she wrote.
Lyden’s passion for Maryville College, its mission, the people who represent it and the community that surrounds it is clear.
“I will keep in mind the sacrifices made on my behalf to help me thrive as a student here, and I will reciprocate the efforts made for me to show that Maryville College has shaped me into who I am today. I truly appreciate this place and the people who are a part of it.”
Finalists for the Outstanding Senior award included: Chelsea Barker, an environmental studies and sociology double major from Brentwood, Tenn.; Lisa Hayes, a biochemistry major from Knoxville; Nick Moore, a business major from Knoxville; and Brandon Todd, a biochemistry major from Bartlett, Tenn.
As finalists, Barker, Hayes, Moore and Todd were each presented a framed award. Lyden was also presented a framed award, plus a cash award of $500. Her name will be added to the Outstanding Senior plaque displayed on campus.
In addition to the Outstanding Senior award, Lyden was recognized with the Alexander English Prize, which is awarded to the student who achieves the best four-year record in the study of English.