Derek Lyons has always been an overachiever. He entered Reed after graduating from high school in Pullman, Washington, and being named a Presidential Scholar. Just days before the dawning of the year 2000, Lyons learned that he had received his greatest academic achievement to date: he was named a Rhodes Scholar. With a 4.0 record and a chemistry degree in hand, he will enter Oxford University in the fall. After two years of study in England and completion of a second bachelor's degree, Lyons plans to enter MIT, where he will work in a laboratory that specializes in artificial intelligence. Lyons, whose stepfather is legally blind, hopes to develop a robotic aid for the visually impaired.

When he leaves Reed, he will miss the friendships he has developed with professors and fellow students. The collegial relationships he enjoyed with his professors helped propel him toward his successes, he said, while the support and understanding of friends kept his life in balance and prevented him from becoming a joyless drone.

"One of the things I know I'm going to miss enormously about Reed is the community of friends that I have, people who know me very well and know me well enough not to take `no' for an answer when they're going to do something fun. Especially my sophomore year, my friends would call and say, `Okay, we're gonna go do this,' and I'd say, `No, I have to work and study and I have four tests and six papers,' and then they'd show up at my door 15 minutes later, shut the books, and make me go."

One of the most difficult facts he had to face at Reed was that his health and happiness would suffer if he lived the life of the mind exclusively, without taking time out for recreation and friendships.

"About halfway through the first semester of my sophomore year it occurred to me that I couldn't continue going to school that way," said Lyons. "I wasn't really enjoying myself. I was doing flawlessly in my courses but I wasn't reaping any satisfaction. My health was suffering and I was just being beaten down into this grind.

"From that hard lesson have come the things that I now regard as most important, maintaining a balance of my work and play. Ironically, in letting go of the aesthetic of perfection that I had it's become much easier for me to maintain my academic standards, because it has ceased to become life and death, and is more about doing what I enjoy, what I find satisfying."

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