Faces of Rhodes
Oliver Lynn Haynes IV ′13
Name: Oliver Lynn Haynes IV
Class Year: 2013
Hometown: Montgomery, AL
Major: International Commerce and Business
Minor: Religious Studies & English
Research interests: Space Industry, Lunar Cultivation, and Asteroid Mining
Extra-curricular activities: Writing; Pi Kappa Alpha (President 2011, Pledge Educator 2012); Social Regulations Council (President 2012); Tennis; Violin
Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College.
I was born and raised in Montgomery, AL. I wanted a good education where I could be challenged to step out to try something new and test the boundaries of my capabilities. I traveled across the southeast, touring a number of schools, figuring a liberal arts education would best suit my aspirations. One autumn day in 2007, I arrived at Rhodes. The campus, in all of its stone-wrought, slate-roofed, stained glassed, Gothic grandeur emerged suddenly from a small forest of oak trees. It was impossible not to be excited.
But, Rhodes, I soon found, was much more than an awe-inspiring first glimpse. There was a tangible sense of community among the students, apparent even as I meandered around campus. It was unlike anything I had experienced in any of my other numerous college tours, which drew me further in. Of course, all of the academic standards were sound; the student-to-teacher ratio was great. There were abundant opportunities to get involved at school and in the Memphis community. But moreover, Rhodes was a place that just seemed to work–where all of the pieces fit together nearly seamlessly. Rhodes existed with a clear purpose of bringing together talented young minds to grow in integrity, knowledge, and self-awareness. I had decided before I even left for the evening that this is where I wanted to be.
How have you changed since beginning your studies at Rhodes College?
When you stop at Rhodes, you come for an education—a good one. Yet, at your fingertips are a thousand other things that add an extra layer of value to your experience. What has changed me most since coming to Rhodes is having opportunities to participate in more than just a routine education. I have been engaged in all sorts of activities that I would never have seen myself getting into. And these things have stretched me as a person, making me aware that I can achieve real things. It has left me with a sense that I hold the potential to do something of merit in this world because I’ve had the chance to test the waters of my abilities, fail, be built back up, try again and succeed—or fail again. Whether it was giving tours to prospective students, adjudicating a breach of the college’s Social Regulation Policy, volunteering with a local charity, leading my fraternity for a year as president, or learning to play the violin, Rhodes has offered me avenues through which to wander and discover my own interests and my own talents for things I may not have known I could ever do.
How did you came to write a novel?
It began in the 7th grade. My friend groups were evolving; I had this vague notion that I was somehow falling through the cracks. Without any idea of how to save myself, I began writing. It was an odd impetus and, looking back, it probably shoved me further down the cracks. Why I thought writing—rather than, say, joining the soccer team—would save my social status, I will never know. Obviously, it failed. I learned that I enjoyed writing for myself, and I could be good at it.
I continued building my writing skills. My senior year of high school, I joined a small Wednesday morning creative writing club. It was there that I wrote a small sample piece about a strange encounter between a masked man named Lucien and a young soldier named Alaric. My teacher was politely unenthusiastic about it. For me, however, there was a whole world in their encounter. Ideas kept budding in my head, and I would write them down as a way to keep them from popping back up and distracting me from my day.
Then I graduated and ran away from America to see the world. I deferred my enrollment to Rhodes and traveled all across New Zealand and India. When I arrived back in my little hometown of Montgomery, I had nearly six months to kill before the fall when I would finally go to Rhodes. My father wanted me to get a job. Instead, I wrote a book. It seemed like a fair compromise. I had had an overwhelming number of experiences abroad and had been exposed to so many different cultures—I needed an outlet through which to express myself. Revisiting that strange encounter between Lucien and Alaric that I had composed during my senior year, I decided to set the story down for real. I completed the first draft of my novel just a few weeks before packing up for Rhodes. Over the course of the past three and a half years, I have been reworking the story and all of the details I never knew I could explore. In October of 2012, I finally finished and published The Searing Veil.
The book is available in print through Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles, and other eBook retailers for $14.95, or if you are feeling very 21st century, it can be purchased for $2.99 on your Kindle.