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story.lead_photo.caption Hayley Cormican of Batesville poses with her dog, Sonny, on the Lyon College campus, where she has been elected Student Government Association president. Cormican, 20, grew up in Batesville and wants to implement programs to further integrate the city and college.

— Student Hayley Cormican loves her hometown of Batesville and Lyon College, and her goal is to see the two interact more.

Cormican, 20, is the newly elected president of Lyon’s Student Government Association.

“I’m going to try to get the Batesville community involved because the [city and college] are very much alike,” she said.

Growing up in Batesville, she was familiar with Lyon College, obviously — and sometimes, that’s the kiss of death for a teenager who wants to be independent.

“My dad went here, but I had kind of thought about going somewhere else, Fayetteville or Jonesboro,” she said. “Since I’ve been here so long, I really connect with a lot of the faculty members. I already knew a bunch of them through the community.

“I am home, so it ultimately felt like I was home. Going to the 606-student Lyon College was “just transitioning to another aspect of my life.”

“I’m really family-oriented anyway; I still live at home,” she said.

Cormican lives in Batesville with her mother and stepfather, Jamie and Brian Gooch, who are both nurses at White River Medical Center, and her 14-year-old sister, Kaelyn Gooch. Cormican’s father, Terry Cormican, and stepmother, Stephanie, live in Mountain Home.

In high school, Cormican was an athlete. She played basketball, “a lot of it,” she said, as well as volleyball.

She went to Lyon College on an academic scholarship and received a Legacy Scholarship, too.

“They recruited me for basketball, which was like a bonus,” she said.

Cormican said she played on the Lyon College basketball team for a year but decided not to continue.

“Originally, when I came to Lyon, I was really interested in art because I did it in high school. I like the creative aspect,” she said.

Cormican took Introduction to Art first.

“I ended up falling in love with it,” she said. “It’s more the people aspect I really love about it. Lyon tries to integrate the art students into the community. It’s easy for me to make connections that way.”

Cormican, a sophomore, said she was involved last semester in a class in which she and five other students painted murals in the community, including one that features the word “protect” on the north side of the Independence County Sheriff’s Office in Batesville, and two in downtown Batesville.

She said she plans to teach art and coach volleyball at the high school level when she graduates.

“A big thing for me — I also coach for White River Juniors,” which she said is an independent league.

“I coach 11 and under, fifth grade. That’s really part of the reason I got into coaching, too, is doing that,” she said. “Nobody wanted to do the little ones. They said, ‘Hayley you can just do it,’ and I ended up really enjoying it.”

Being involved in the community is easy for Cormican because she’s known it all her life. Campus life is another animal.

“It’s hard being a commuter to be super involved in campus, just because I don’t live here. I’m not here 24/7,” she said.

She decided to immerse herself in campus activities as much as possible.

She takes her standard goldendoodle, Sonny, to the new dog park on campus two or three times a week.

“It is so cool,” she said of Schram Memorial Bark Park.

Sonny, a black female, looks a lot like the black standard poodle, Chance, who belongs to current SGA president Taylor Donnerson.

“We joke that you have to have a standard poodle to be SGA president,” Cormican said, laughing.

She’s also a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, and she joined the Student Government Association as a freshman. She’s serving this year as treasurer and will take over as president in June.

Donnerson said she thinks Cormican is “definitely well-prepared” for the role of president. She also said Cormican will shadow her to learn more.

“One way is that she will be going to a lot of the board meetings and anything that I’m having to do so she can make sure she’s up to date with the processes and understands her role and what she has to do to fulfill her role as the new president. So far, it’s going really well. We’re both so very excited about it,” Donnerson said.

Cormican said art is a “somewhat unconventional major” for a student wanting to be SGA president, but she believes teachers and coaches have such a big influence on young people that a leadership background is important.

The SGA is “really student-focused,” she said, which makes sense. Still, she wants to try to bridge the gap with the community, and she sees that as one of her strengths.

“It’s hard to get [students] involved if they don’t know what’s available off campus,” Cormican said. “I could make those opportunities available to a lot of students because of the connections I have.

“I have brainstormed a few ideas, and one of my ideas is to have a mini campus-speaker series once a month to bring in a member from the Batesville community. I’ve already talked to a couple of people at White River Medical Center and other places.”

A disc-golf tournament on campus is in the works, too.

“We’re shooting for mid-September. We’re going to try to get community sponsors to each sponsor a hole. We would donate the proceeds back to LEAP, the Lyon Education Adventure Program. I’ve already talked to the LEAP director at Lyon, and he is very on-board with it,” Cormican said.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Austin Smith, director of outdoor education and recreation. “We’re always trying to get the community on campus.”

Although he said there are still details to work out, “I’m always about supporting our students, our events, and the community getting involved, so I think it would be great.”

Cormican said the Student Government Association funded new concrete blocks for the 18-hole disc-golf course last year, “so we’re invested in that, too.”

She said that in her role, she wants to tout the advantages of the small campus.

“The campus is so small, compared to Fayetteville or Jonesboro, but one thing about that is, every single person — you never walk by somebody without them saying ‘hi.’”

That includes faculty.

“They’ll all know you by name by the end of the semester,” Cormican said. “It’s just a thing here.”

The coursework is challenging, she said, but the support makes it doable.

“All the faculty and staff really want the students to succeed here,” Cormican said. “The difference in Lyon and a big university, … so many people on campus want you to succeed.

“The community aspect of Lyon really matches the Batesville community.”

And to her, the more blending of the two, the better.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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