HANCEVILLE, Ala. — What do a management major at Athens State, a neuroscience major at Belmont University in Nashville and a lighting tech currently on tour with Kenny Chesney all have in common? They all currently attend or attended Wallace State Community College. Oh, and they are all from the same family.
Lynicia Lovell and her two children, son Keaton and daughter Aubry, are all Wallace State students and/or alumni. Lynicia is a transient student at Wallace State, taking history classes to help complete her bachelor degree in management from Athens State. She also holds an associate degree in paralegal from Wallace State. Keaton transferred from Wallace State to Belmont University, where in 2015 he earned a degree in audio engineering. Aubry will graduate from Belmont University with a degree in neuroscience, but she earned her associate degree through Wallace State’s Fast Track program the same month she earned her high school diploma.
“Wallace State has been a great opportunity for all three of us to be able to reach our educational goals so that we can further our career goals,” Lynicia said. “I don’t think any of us would feel like we would have the opportunities we’ve had if we had not had the foundation of Wallace.”
Lynicia started taking classes off and on before Aubry was born. As a stay-at-home mom and military wife to her husband Brian, her first priority has always been her family. But in the back of her mind, she said she always knew she would go to college. With a long-time interest in the law, she began taking Paralegal classes at Wallace. Shortly before Aubry was born, she was offered a brief internship in the Cullman County District Attorney’s office. “A two-week internship turned into a 17-year career, which I don’t regret,” she said.
Lynicia eventually earned an associate degree as a paralegal. After leaving the DA’s office, she began working for the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office and has continued her education at Athens State, working toward a bachelor degree in management. She’s taking history classes at Wallace State as a transient student, first to save on tuition and second on the recommendation of her son, Keaton, who encouraged her to enroll is Bob Davis’s history classes.
Keaton attended Wallace State from 2012 to 2013, completing his basics in preparation for transferring to Belmont University.
“I knew I wanted to go to Belmont early on in high school, but I decided to be smart and save some money,” Keaton said. Belmont is a private university and more expensive.
He said he initially started out wanting to be on the stage performing. “But I got involved in the technical side of it and fell in love with it,” he said.
While at Belmont learning how to be a sound engineer for studio and live events, he started interning for a company in Nashville, helping set up small shows and working on the lights and sound programs. When he graduated in December 2015, he took a job with that company. “They sent me on the Kenny Chesney Spread the Love tour in 2016,” Keaton said. “That was my first mega-stadium tour.”
Last year, Keaton toured with Montgomery Gentry and this year he’s back on tour with Kenny Chesney.
Keaton said he loves life on the road and adapted to tour bus living pretty quickly. “It can be challenging for some people,” he said. They can have a lot of down time while traveling in between shows. Some of his favorite venues so far have been Pittsburg, where the stadium sits right on the river, and Seattle, where the coffee lover could find a coffee shop on every corner.
Keaton said he doesn’t regret his time spent at Wallace State. “I had some cool teachers there at Wallace,” he said. “I had Mr. Davis for history,” he said. “I absolutely loved that class. He’s a fun teacher and made the class a lot of fun. I told my mom to take his class because he was so funny and so comedic. I had Dr. Boyd for math and I’m not a big math guy. He made me enjoy math and made it a lot easier to understand.
“Wallace was a good stepping stone for me,” Keaton added. “It let me see what college was all about, to step into it slowly and get some experience under my belt before I moved away from home.”
Aubry feels the same. “If I would have graduated from high school and went straight into a four-year college, I would have been completely lost,” she said. “I would not have known what to do.
“It taught me responsibility, time-management skills and all kinds of things like that.”
Her two years as a Fast Track student helped her prepare for attending a four-year university and put her ahead of her peers in completing her education. After a one-year detour at UAB, Aubry transferred to Belmont University in Nashville, where she will be graduating next month with a bachelor’s degree, one year ahead of her high school classmates. After a gap year, where she hopes to work in a research facility, she plans to go on and earn her master’s and doctorate in neuroscience and become a researcher.