Henderson State to honor outstanding alumni at annual banquet

Henderson State University will honor six outstanding alumni at the Alumni Association’s annual awards banquet April 12.

Distinguished Alumni awards will be presented to Charles Payne, Chris and Debra Wewers, and the late Eula Thomas. Nathan Goodnight will receive the “H” Award, and the Young Alumni Award will be presented to Kassadi Seidenschnur.

The event will be held in the Garrison Center Grand Ballroom at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased online at https://alumni.hsu.edu/alumniawards.

Distinguished Alumni

Charles Payne

Charles Payne is known around campus as Mr. Reddie. He is a 2007 Hall of Honor inductee, a member of the H Club committee, has served on the Alumni Board, and is a member of the Spirit of the Reddies Alumni Chapter.

Payne is the oldest living Reddie letterman and the only four-year, four-sport letterman in the history of Reddie athletics. He says he was a Reddie as a young boy, as many of his aunts and uncles attended what was then known as Henderson-Brown College.

Payne became a Marine in WWII when he was 17. He fought at Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and witnessed the raising of the U.S. flag at the invasion of the Philippines. After re-entry and graduation from West Helena High School, the GI Bill made it possible for him to attend Henderson State Teachers College. Payne earned his bachelor’s degree in education in 1949 and a master’s degree in education, graduating in 1959. Later, he attended the University of Arkansas for a degree of advanced study.

Payne devoted his career to education in Arkansas. He taught, coached, and served as principal or superintendent in Barton, Dierks, Little Rock-McClellan, Pulaski County Schools, Hampton, and Lake Hamilton School District, where he retired and moved back to Arkadelphia in 1986.

Payne met his late wife, Nell, while they were Henderson students. He proposed to her on the legendary Bench 13. They have two daughters (both HSU graduates), four granddaughters, and two great-grandsons. Payne can be found playing golf, fishing, and attending as many Reddie ballgames as his schedule allows.

Eula Thomas

Eula Eyvonne Wiley Thomas earned her master’s degree in community and family counseling from Henderson State, where she would later return to serve as a counselor and instructor of oral communications.

After graduating from Peake High School in 1965, Thomas obtained bachelor’s degrees in speech and communication and physical education from Ouachita Baptist University and her master’s degree from Henderson. She entered the doctoral program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, completing all requirements except the dissertation before extenuating circumstances prohibited its completion.

Thomas worked as a speech and hearing clinician at the Arkadelphia Human Development Center before joining the Henderson faculty.

While at Henderson, Thomas sponsored the Iota Delta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and served as a sponsor of the Confederation of Black Students Association. She was recognized as Arkansas’ “Sponsor of the Year” by the state affiliate organization.

A community servant, Thomas reinvigorated the Arkadelphia Christmas Parade. She was past president of the Sunshine Service Club and the Arkadelphia Women’s Development Council. She became the first minority female member of the Chamber of Commerce.

Thomas was an active member of Greater Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, where she was the church clerk, a trustee, a deaconess, the chair of the Beautification Committee, and an instructor at Vacation Bible School.

Her family includes her husband Herman, and daughters Traci A. Bragg (Charles) and Tiffani Thomas. She was the grandmother of Thaxton Thomas Bragg and Emma Leigh Thomas.

Debra and Chris Wewers

Debra and Chris Wewers have consistently supported their alma mater since they were students on campus. They are members of the Reddie Club. In addition, they both have endowed scholarships with the Debra L. Nutt Wewers Scholarship Endowment, which supports education students, and the Christopher M. Wewers Scholarship Endowment, which supports business students.

Debra received a bachelor's degree in education with an early childhood emphasis in May 1993, graduating Cum Laude, and a master's degree in education in May 1995, graduating Summa Cum Laude.

Chris is the chief financial officer for Southern Bancorp Inc. and Southern Bancorp Bank. He graduated Summa Cum Laude in the Fall of 1992. Chris is a member of the School of Business Advisory Board and is chairman of the Henderson State Foundation Board. While at Henderson, he played on the golf team for two years, served as a residence hall assistant for two years, and was a member of Alpha Chi.

“H” Award

Nathan Goodnight is a 2005 Henderson graduate who has played a pivotal role in developing strong community banking markets nationwide.

He is the senior vice president within the Correspondent Division of SouthState Bank Corporation, where he was appointed to lead the second Texas office in Dallas.

Goodnight has more than a decade of experience helping clients manage their investment portfolios and interest rate risk. Before joining SouthState Bank, he worked in Dallas as vice president for Commerce Bank, providing clients with innovative and customized solutions for their fixed income portfolio.

Goodnight serves on the Henderson State Foundation Board and chairs the finance and investment committee. He received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 2016.

Goodnight is married to Anna, and they have three children.

Young Alumni Award

Kassadi Seidenschnur always wanted to be a teacher. After graduating from Lake Hamilton High School in 2006, she followed in her mother’s and paternal grandmother’s footsteps to attend Henderson State University. While at Henderson, she pursued a middle school math and science education degree and graduated in May 2010.

Seidenschnur taught fifth-grade math and science in Maumelle for two years. She also began working toward a master’s degree in library and information studies through Florida State University. She joined Bryant Schools in 2012 to teach fifth-grade literacy at Collegeville Elementary. Her leadership, passion for integrating technology with instruction, and collaboration skills led to her selection as Collegeville’s 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year.

In 2019, Seidenschnur became the library-media specialist at Hurricane Creek Elementary, where she is passionate about cultivating student readers. Alongside the classroom teachers, she finds ways to promote reading and increase student achievement creatively.

Now in her 14th year in education, Seidenschnur teaches library class and celebrates reading with students in grades kindergarten through fifth. She is dedicated to creatively engaging her students in a love for reading.

In 2023, Seidenschnur was named Hurricane Creek Elementary’s and Bryant Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year. She was also named a regional finalist and a state semi-finalist for Arkansas Teacher of the Year. She attributes these honors to her family, colleagues, administration, former teachers, and her time at Henderson State University.

Seidenschnur and her husband, Karl, live in Little Rock with their son, Tim, and they are awaiting the arrival of their baby, Jack.