the agriculturist

Surviving Freshman Yearbarclay

Story by Larkin Davis and Photo by Lynette Reeves


Barclay White, freshman in animal science, is very involved in different activities including Matador Singers and President’s Select. He has an identical twin brother, Bryce, also a freshman in animal science, as well as a sister who will graduate from Texas Tech in December 2011 with an elementary education degree.

Barclay is also battling cancer.

In April 2011, four months before beginning his freshman year, Barclay went to see his family doctor; he had been suffering from a cough for more than a month. Less than a week later, he was diagnosed with non-hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).  According to the National Cancer Institute, people under the age of 20 account for only 1.8 percent of the patients with NHL. This fact made Barclay’s condition even more difficult for him and his family to accept.

Barclay’s older sister, Whitney, said she vividly remembers how scary it was when their family found out something was wrong. She also recalls how early Barclay set the tone for how he would react to his illness.

“I got home and everyone was there. Mom was crying, Barclay was laughing. I was like, ‘What is going on?’” she said.

Whitney learned Barclay had a baseball-size mass in his chest which was causing his cough. The family did not know what the diagnosis was yet, but they were all really worried, except Barclay. In fact, he was making jokes about the situation.

“Barclay kept saying he was going to be fine. He was smiling, and we were all upset,” Whitney recounted while shaking her head and smirking at the memory.  “We drew the line when he started joking around about his ‘cancer cough.’ None of us thought that was funny.”

Though his family was not amused with Barclay’s joke at the time, they were impressed by his ability to laugh and stay so positive through this trying time.

Barclay also enjoys the continuing support of friends, family, professors and administrators at Texas Tech.
Whitney has been a member of President’s Select, a prestigious recruitment organization, since 2008 and also worked in the President’s office.

Through Whitney, Barclay and Bryce were able to meet Texas Tech University President Guy Bailey, Ph.D., on a tour of Texas Tech their senior year of high school.

Upon learning Barclay had been diagnosed with cancer, President Bailey was supportive toward Barclay and his battle with cancer.

President Bailey’s wife is a two-time cancer survivor, so he understood what Barclay was going through and aimed to help and encourage Barclay. President Bailey even gave Barclay the honor of becoming an honorary President’s Select member, meaning he was allowed to forgo the application process. Barclay was even presented with a plaque to commemorate the honor.

President Bailey explained he wanted to help keep Barclay’s spirits up by giving him an outlet to get involved, without putting too much pressure or burden on him.

“One of the things with cancer is that it requires a lot of your time to get well,” President Bailey said. “You don’t think about that, but the biggest part of your life is devoted to healing yourself and doing the things you need to heal. So anytime you can help people be flexible and help them do things without putting additional burdens on them, then that’s a good thing.”

President Bailey asserted he was impressed with what a great attitude Barclay had and urged him to voice any problems with his classes or professors.

Barclay said he has never needed to speak with President Bailey about difficulties with classes because his professors, particularly his professors within the Department of Animal and Food Sciences have been very helpful and supportive of him. His sister, Whitney, has been particularly impressed.

Whitney said Barclay’s advisor, Sam Jackson, Ph.D., associate chair and associate professor, has been very helpful. She said, that she has been impressed with the faculty and staff within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources as a whole.

“I am so thankful my brothers are going through the animal science program. I really am. It seems more like a family than a college,” Whitney said. “I’ve been really impressed by how helpful the faculty have been.”

Barclay was determined to start his freshman year in the fall even while undergoing chemotherapy. He now admits it has been made a lot easier because of how caring and helpful the professors are in animal science.

Barclay’s face lights up as he begins to tell the story of how Jackson cut his lunch short to help Barclay rework his schedule.

“I was eating with my mom in Cowamongus!, and I saw Jackson sitting at a table,” Barclay said. “I went over and told him I was concerned about my schedule and I had some questions for him.”

Barclay went on to explain how nice it was that Jackson quickly finished his lunch and invited Barclay back to his office and proceeded to take the time to find classes that would be easier for Barclay to manage while undergoing treatment. Jackson was also able to schedule Barclay’s classes so that he did not have classes on Thursday so Barclay could go to his doctors’ appointments without missing class.

Bryce said the brothers felt very welcome and at home because of the support they have received from their new teachers.

“They’ve done whatever they could do,” Bryce said. “They’ve just offered out their hands to help us if we ever needed something.”

Though his first semester has been tough, Barclay is optimistic about his scholastic career and recovery. He underwent his last chemotherapy treatment in September and as of October 6, there are no longer any live cancer cells in his body.

Barclay said though he is not currently in complete remission, he is confident he will conquer his battle with cancer soon. Until then, he is satisfied to conquer his freshman year of college and inspire others.