Everyone wants to be first. First in line, first to be picked, first to finish. It’s a word associated with strength and excitement, and when you’re the first in your family to attend college, it’s one that carries extra courage and resolve.
This week, the Auburn University Office of Inclusion and Diversity hosts the First Gen Celebration Week to highlight those who are the first in their family to attend and graduate from college. The College of Human Sciences joins OID during this week of recognition to share stories of groundbreaking first-generation students.
Lindsey Lovvorn, Interior Design
Sophomore Lindsey Lovvorn started her journey to college early. In just the seventh grade, she started receiving mail from universities after she took the ACT. To her, a college degree represents freedom in her future career.
“I chose Auburn because it has a top ten nationally ranked Interior Design program, and it is far enough away from home, but not so far that I cannot go home for the weekend,” Lovvorn said. “I also chose Auburn because of the Creed. The principles of the Creed are synonymous with how I try to live, and I wanted to attend a school that holds the same values as I do.”
Lovvorn understands how much an Auburn degree will serve her as she pursues an interior design career in the hospitality or commercial sector. To her, college is what you make it – and while she’s having fun, she knows that her education is the priority. Lovvorn said that even as she breaks new ground for her family, they and others are there to support her as she lives out her dream.
“You have less of an idea what to expect, and you have to rely more on the experiences of people outside your family. It can also be a good thing to not have someone in your family that has gone before you, though; it means that you don’t have to worry about the pressure of following familial traditions, like if your mother, grandmother, and aunt were all in the same sorority or something similar,” Lovvorn said. “You get to start fresh. My family loves hearing about my college experience. If I ever have a problem, my mom is happy to help me figure out the best way to tackle it.”
Lainey Maxwell, Nutrition-Dietetics
Junior Lainey Maxwell has her heart set on being a certified diabetes educator and dietitian at the Children’s Hospital of Alabama. The Fort Payne native made a ten-year plan in high school and knew that a college degree would be an important step toward a career in the medical field. Having no older family members who can share their college experience has not made this experience harder, according to Maxwell, only different. “I feel everyone’s college experience is unique. For me, I pay for 100 percent of my education through my two on campus jobs or student loans. So, since I am paying for it myself, it makes me want to work harder for my grades,” Maxwell said. “My parents love listening to my college stories and even though they can’t relate, they always tell me these are the memories I will hold forever. Whenever I complain about studying, they just remind me of the future that I will have one day.”
Maxwell knows her decision to be the first in her family to pursue a college degree is one that will likely affect her children and generations to come.
“I hope my children grow up and see how hard their mom worked to get where she is today and how wonderful and special Auburn University truly is,” Maxwell said. “To me, attending college has been a great opportunity. Not everyone is fortunate enough to attend a higher education. But, if you are able, I think college is super important for setting yourself up for a successful future. I will remember the memories I have made at Auburn forever.”
Laken Nix, Interior Design
Sophomore Laken Nix has known she wanted to be an Auburn Tiger since she was a child growing up in Grove Hill, Alabama. Her mother and stepfather, who both attended community college, supported her laser focus on Auburn and pushed her to chase her dreams.
Nix said being the first in her family to see a four-year degree through has allowed her to experience college in her own way.
“Being fortunate enough to attend college has allowed me to put into perspective how blessed I truly am. Every time I step on campus or log into Canvas, I am reminded that not everyone has the opportunity to earn a higher education,” Nix said. “For this reason, I am constantly thankful for supportive parents who encourage me and help me chase my dreams, a school that will help me get the education I want, and a place that continually feels like home.”
Once Nix receives her Bachelor of Interior Design, she hopes to continue her education through a building science master’s program, then move to Tennessee to work for an interior design firm. Once she becomes a licensed interior designer, Nix looks forward to launching a design firm of her own.
“The past year and a half has surpassed anything I’ve ever thought college would be. I have made connections with successful CEO’s, found friends that will be in my wedding someday, and learned more about interior design than I ever thought I would,” Nix said. “ I knew without a doubt that Auburn was a place where I could be the best version of myself, I would constantly be pushed out of my comfort zone, and I would make memories that would last a lifetime.”
Get more information on First Gen Celebration Week .