Commencement is over, and Lindsay Dube is set for the next chapter of her life.
As a high school student Lindsay Dube's parents pushed her to try new things.
“We always taught our kids to try it,” Michelle Dube explained. “You may not like it, but even if it's eating vegetables, in five years you need to try it again because your tastes change.”
Being from a small school like Thrall has its advantages, and Lindsay took her parent's teaching to heart. She tried everything.
Though not much of an athlete, she tried sports. Band wasn't really her thing, but she was part of the color guard and learned how to play the cymbal. She says she was part of every club the school had to offer, but she found her best fit doing media work.
“I was in high school when I got super involved in yearbook and journalism,” Lindsay said. “I was involved with FFA in the agricultural communications contest.”
The contests brought her to Texas Tech University a few times and she fell in love with the agricultural communications program.
By the time she graduated high school she was ready to work in communications. The yearbook at Texas Tech was a natural fit, and Dube got involved there early in her career, but it was just the first of many projects she would be a part of.
Early on in her college days, Dube caught the attention of another Lindsay: Lindsay Kennedy.
Kennedy is an assistant professor of practice in the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources. She is head of the Matador Institute of Leadership Engagement (MILE) program and teaches The Agriculturist magazine production course.
The MILE program is a development tool for undergraduates across Davis college, helping them grow their professional skills and exposing them to key issues impacting local, state and national agriculture policy. The program enlists 14 students in each cohort and takes place over three semesters.
Dube applied to be part of the second cohort. She was a first-year student, but she was impressive enough during the interview process to earn one of the coveted spots.
“Lindsay was one of two freshman we put in that cohort, and a lot of it was because she presented a maturity beyond her age,” Kennedy said. “She was very sharp and came across as somebody who was very eager to maximize her opportunities at Texas Tech. That's the kind of student we're looking for.
“We always have a bunch of agricultural communications students, but we try to get representation from all the departments in the college. But she really stood out in that interview despite her youth. We try to get students in the middle of their college experience so they can kind of absorb that program to the best of their abilities.”
Dube grabbed the opportunity and ran with it. She joined the MILE program in January 2020, and Kennedy quickly became a mentor she relied on.
“I was in the second cohort, which is when COVID hit, so we didn't get a lot of those experiences that we wanted,” Dube said. “We had to adjust and do things virtually like everybody else in the world.
“But walking through all of that with her leadership was really impactful. She's always just been in our corner and that's the best way to describe it. She cares a lot about her students and has really shepherded me and helped me flourish during my time at Texas Tech.”
Flourish is exactly what Dube did.
Along with the MILE program she was working for the yearbook and the alumni magazine, all while maintaining honors-level grades.
She followed that by taking on the role of editor for The Agriculturist to cover arguably the most important story in the college's history: Gordon Davis' historic gift to Texas Tech and the renaming of the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources was the natural cover of the magazine.
“She was in our ag communications block in 2022, and I chose her to be the editor of that publication,” Kennedy said. “I believe that magazine was 148 pages, so it's a massive issue. That class, through the block and through the magazine production process, they write, they photograph, they sell the advertising, they do the layouts. It's a 100% student-led process, and as the editor she was chosen – again through an interview – to lead that process.
“She and I worked together well after the school year was over to see that all the way to print. She's someone I trust, and someone I knew had it in her to carry this thing across the finish line. I also knew it meant a lot to her. When she says she's going to do something, she does it.”
Aside from being the editor, Dube wrote the cover article. The title: “It's Okay to Win.”
The quote is from the article, from Gordon Davis, but it fits Dube well.
“She never expects anybody to accommodate anything,” Kennedy said. “She never expects special treatment. She's just purely there to get the job done.”
With the magazine finalized and Dube pushing ever closer to graduation, she decided she needed a few more challenges. Already a double major in creative media industries (CMI), part of the College of Media & Communication, and agricultural communications, she took on an internship with Texas Tech's Office of Advancement.
“I started working for the Office of Advancement back in October,” Dube said. “That office is responsible for a lot of the philanthropy that goes on at Texas Tech, stewarding donors and making sure that we have resources to work with.
“I'm kind of assisting the executive team members in a lot of communication pieces. I'm helping put things on paper for them, kind of serving as a little bit of an assistant slash multimedia specialist working on internal communications and things for future projects. I really just help out wherever I can.”
Around the same time, she applied for CMI's adventure media class, a physically demanding bikepacking and natural media experience. Like with The Agriculturist magazine, the class required an application and an interview process, but Dube was a shoo-in.
Jerod Foster, one of the professors for the adventure media class, had known Dube for a few years. He had taught her in photography classes, seen her work with the alumni magazine and knew she would be a good candidate.
“When her name came across the applicant pool, I just knew she was a slam dunk,” Foster said. “I didn't tell my teaching partner that because I didn't want to paint a picture for him that was unfair to anybody else. But it was clear during the interview.
“She was driven. She is more mature than a lot of students in terms of thinking ‘How is this class and how is this experience going to benefit me?'”
“The adventure media class has always been an extremely physically demanding class,” Foster said. “This year's course – because we decided to take on half, and really the most challenging parts, of the Monumental Loop outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico – was easily the most physically demanding and challenging course we've put together.
“The distance the students covered was nearly double the typical amount we have to do over every spring break. The terrain they were crossing was much more challenging, much more rocky, technical, drier – very little water on this course.”
For a student working multiple jobs and taking on extra projects left and right, it seemed like an odd decision, but for Dube it was an opportunity she couldn't pass up.
In 2020, when Dube was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, her parents were leery about getting her tested. They didn't want it to impact the way she made decisions or the chances she was willing to take.
“We didn't want a diagnosis to change the way she pursued life,” Travis Dube, Lindsay's father said.
If anything, the diagnosis pushed Lindsay to follow her parent's advice and try even more new things.
“I think it's made me more adventurous only because I have to do things now when I can,” she said. “I can't wait for a better opportunity because this is as good as it's going to get. I think taking the opportunity to push myself now when I'm young and it really hasn't affected my day-to-day life like I've seen it affect my family as they've gotten older is important.”
As with everything else Dube does, she pushed herself to succeed even when others might have thrown in the towel.
On one overnight trip to Caprock Canyons State Park, early in the semester, Dube's mentor Kennedy joined the adventure media class for a ride. She wanted the experience herself, and since she and Foster are colleagues and Dube was involved in the class, she thought she'd tag along.
Kennedy has her own outdoor educational program and is no stranger to strenuous activity. But the final climb on the ride at Caprock Canyons was grueling
“I've done a lot of hiking and backpacking, but this was my first time bikepacking,” Kennedy said. “The very end of that day – there are a lot of physical challenges throughout the day – but at the very end there's this big hill. It's paved, but it's big. And I found out really quickly that I had put way too much weight on my bike, so I was on foot pushing it up the hill pretty early on.
“Then Lindsay comes up from behind me and she's riding – I mean she's going,” Kennedy said with more than a little bit of pride in her voice, “and I'm pushing my bike and cheering her on. She's one of the few students that rode her bike from the bottom of that hill to the top at the very end of that day. And it was just this cool moment at the top where you could see she was like ‘I can do this. I did this.'”
For Foster, the class just exemplified the student he knew would be a slam dunk early on.
“I don't think Lindsay had any sort of real expectation that she was going to be blowing people out of the water physically,” he said. “But what you see about people like her is where she starts is not where she's going to end up. Every time she's on the bike, she's getting better. Every time she's behind the camera, she's getting better. Every time she's thinking about stories, she's developing her skill set and her aptitude for growth. All the way through it was like that for her.”
The Next Step
In the first part of this series, we mentioned that Lindsay Dube's story was just getting started, and in many ways it still is. Texas Tech is part of that story, certainly. But with her graduation last week the next chapter is ready to be written, and it won't be written strictly in Lubbock.
For Dube, the next step is graduate school down south. She was accepted into a program at the University of Texas and Kennedy helped guide her to take on yet another challenge in a new environment.
“I would have loved to have kept Lindsay here for grad school,” Kennedy said. “Our department faculty might have had a fight over who got to have her, and I would've been right in the middle of it.
“But I wrote her a letter of recommendation for that program, knowing that she could compete with anybody, and I think it was important for her to know that she was capable of that.”
But even as she leaves Lubbock, she isn't really leaving Texas Tech behind. While she's in graduate school she'll be working for the Office of Advancement remotely, continuing to help on a major project she's been involved with from the beginning.
“We began working on a pretty significant project for the university and saw an opportunity for a student to assist us at a very advanced level,” said Erin Hornaday, a senior director in the Office of Advancement. “She's been able to jump right in and pick up on the many complex layers of fundraising for the university from an administration side. She's been a dream to work with – she's got a great intuition and ability to see the bigger picture, and that really enables her to know exactly what needs to be done without needing a lot of direction.
“When her graduation appeared on the horizon, we knew we couldn't let her get away. It was an easy decision to ask her to work for us remotely while she starts this next chapter. I'm excited to see how she applies what she absorbs in grad school to this job. And I hope it provides a good testing ground for her skill sets as a professional.”
Dube isn't a typical student. This week she finally got to see what it was like to have just one job and no classes.
“I don't like not being busy,” she said with a little bit of a laugh.
The rest of her time as an undergraduate was spent working multiple jobs, picking up projects she didn't have to work on and testing herself in every way she could find.
“The best thing to me is she's setting this great example,” Kennedy said. “From the time a student comes in as a freshman until the time they leave Texas Tech, if we've done our job and they've done their job investing, they shouldn't be the same person.
“It's really cool to see her evolve that way. And when we see students come in that may be like a feather on the breeze, we can point to a student like her and say ‘Don't let anything hold you back.'”
The next step, the next set of tests, is just around the corner. She'll start her graduate program in the fall.
But there's little doubt from anyone at Texas Tech that she'll make the most of it.
“She embodies the opposite of what a lot of people typecast her peers for,” Hornaday said. “I dare anyone to hear her story and say she isn't up for a challenge.”