HDFS Alumna Honors West Texas and Panhandle Seniors through Magazine Publication
From an early age, Erin Agee has loved hearing stories from older generations that have come before her. This love, and desire to both serve and honor older people, was one of the many reasons the 1999 alumna chose to pursue a bachelor's degree in Texas Tech University's Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) program.
"I chose Texas Tech because my mother and two brothers are TTU alumni," Erin said. "I always knew my college and career paths would involve interacting with people, so HDFS seemed to be the best fit. I knew I didn't want to be a teacher, but I'd entertained the idea of being a nursing home chaplain."
Erin, who is now the owner and publisher of Lubbock Senior Link magazine and Amarillo Senior Link magazine, explains that her HDFS degree from the College of Human Sciences provided her with an understanding of families, gerontology and generational values. This, combined with provided program skill sets of interviewing people and appreciation of where people are through their journey, has helped her as a publisher.
"When I sit with seniors to listen to their stories for the purpose of publishing, I am able to see them from a unique perspective," Erin said. "HDFS taught me to appreciate and value each person's individual life experiences and relationships and how the dynamics of those experiences and relationships affect every aspect of their lives."
This appreciation and value of individual life experiences can be seen in the spirit of Senior Link, where Erin intertwines unique ways of storytelling. Erin explained that she and her team often ask family members to write the featured stories of their honorees appearing in the magazine, as this offers a more intimate perspective of a person's life story and an additional layer of insight for readers. However, when Erin writes a story, she uses what she learned through HDFS to see others through a different lens.
"In some instances, I choose to author a story myself because I see a gift in a person that sparks something in me," Erin said. "HDFS taught me to really see people - not just what they look like, but who they are, and it becomes important for me to share that individual with our community. Occasionally, a person finds it easier to open up to someone outside the family. HDFS helped me learn to sit still - to listen beyond the words."
In addition to unique storytelling, the overall goal of Senior Link is to honor seniors across West Texas and the Panhandle by telling their stories for the purpose of inspiring, challenging, educating and entertaining, not only their peers, but the generations who come after them. The magazine also places a priority in highlighting the lives of men and women who have served the United States and actively recruits young authors as a way to link generations.
Just as the skills learned through Human Development and Family Studies have remained with Erin throughout the years, so have her memories of the program itself. Erin said she can remember clearly the professors she encountered, the classes she took, and the lifelong friendships she formed. These were also the things that stood out most when thinking back to her time as an HDFS student, including an important life lesson.
"It was such a small, intimate group that we were able to form great friendships," Erin said. "Professors were readily available - especially, when graduation was looming, and we had no idea what our next step should be. They were always willing to take the time to visit, to counsel, and to give direction. I picked up some great insight from those visits. One life lesson that I carried with me until the magazine fell into my lap was, 'Do what you love, and it won't be so much about finding a career. Trust that, and everything else will fall into place.'"