Daphne and Robert Perkins didn't attend Lyon College. Their parents didn't attend Lyon College. So what inspired them to establish an endowment to support annual awards to the outstanding freshman male calculus student and the most outstanding saxophone player in the Lyon band? Their sons.
Wesley Perkins graduated from Lyon in 2015 with a major in math and minors in physics and computer science. The former Brown Scholar is now completed his master's in math and is working on his Ph.D. in math at the University of Kansas.
Jacob Perkins, a Lyon senior and drum major of the marching band, is also a math major, with a minor in computer science. He, too, plans to enroll in graduate school following his graduation next May. And, by the way, it's no surprise that he plays the saxophone.
Both Daphne and Robert earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Arkansas State University and went on to complete second master's degrees at Texas A & M. Daphne has taught math and statistics for 15 years at Black River Technical College in Pocahontas, while Robert-who also taught for a few years-is a financial risk manager for Arkansas Blue Cross-Blue Shield. Their love of all things mathematical has been passed on to both sons and their daughter, Nikkolette, now a high school junior.
Daphne explained that from the early days of their marriage, she and Robert had considered setting up some kind of endowment. They thought about ASU, but somehow that just didn't seem to be the right choice. When they got to know Lyon through their sons' experiences and their own experiences on campus, they felt Lyon was right.
Currently, they are building up their endowment, which is not yet large enough to fund the awards. The Perkins don't want to wait, however, so they fill the gap by simply providing the annual amount for the two awards themselves. Their goal is $10,000 in their endowment, or, Robert says, perhaps a bit more.
The couple simply cannot say enough about how positive they feel about Lyon College. Robert's good opinion was first stimulated by his high school math teach, Ronnie Brogdon, an academic and athletic standout who graduated from Lyon, then Arkansas College, in 1970. Brogdon was "the best math teacher ever," according to Robert, so when Wesley was looking at colleges, his father encouraged him to look at Lyon. It turned out to be the right place for him. When it was Jacob's turn, he followed his older brother, excited by learning during a campus visit that Lyon was initiating a marching band. He told his mother to put down his deposit that very day.
In addition to the excellent education their sons have received at Lyon, the Perkins are pleased with the spiritual life Lyon offers its students. Both sons grew greatly in their relationship with God, their parents say. And they are impressed with the friendliness they have seen on campus. "Y'all know everybody here, and it makes a difference," Robert said, contrasting Lyon with the universities he attended, where classes could be enormous. Both mentioned seeing past Lyon president Donald Weatherman and various faculty and staff members helping freshmen move into the dorms, mentioning that their help made the whole experience more personal and impressed their sons and other freshmen with the sense of community at Lyon. Lyon is so friendly, Daphne noted, that she has even been hugged by a physics professor!
Nikkolette has not yet decided where she will go to college, but she too is interested in math-and creative writing. Who knows? Perhaps in another year, she will be part of the Lyon family too.