LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 5, 2023) — After years of hard work and determination, father and daughter, Jeff and Shelby Lynn, will walk across the commencement stage today to receive their bachelor’s degrees from the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information. The journey to this moment was not an easy one, as both faced their own unique challenges along the way. But together, they supported each other through the ups and downs, and now celebrate their achievements — side by side.
“I’m so excited that I get to graduate with my dad,” said Shelby, who also works as a fellowship and faculty coordinator for UK HealthCare’s Advanced Eye Care. “He has always been a major pillar in my life and I’m lucky that I get to walk with one of my biggest supporters.”
For Shelby, receiving her degree is a culmination of a dream that was put on hold after leaving the university in 2011, during her freshman year, when she became pregnant with her oldest daughter.
Over a decade later, with the help of UK’s Employee Education Program (EEP), which waives tuition for regular employees, she returned to finish her degree in communication.
“I knew I wanted to finish college to give my daughter the life she deserved,” said Shelby. “While she was learning her ABCs, I was learning right alongside her — just a little more than the ABCs. I wanted to show her she could do anything she set her mind to.”
Inspired by Shelby's perseverance, Jeff Lynn, who also works for UK HealthCare as an infrastructure services manager, also decided to return to college after leaving Murray State University in 1987. After 22 years in the Navy, and with his children now grown, he felt it was also time to finalize that chapter.
Also utilizing UK’s EEP program, Jeff will receive his bachelor’s degree in information communication technology.
"It has been a long-standing goal to complete my degree, and to be able to walk with my daughter is amazing", said Jeff. "With the inspiration of my family and their encouragement, I was able to complete this goal.”
When reflecting on their untraditional undergraduate experiences, both Shelby and Jeff feel an extreme sense of pride and accomplishment.
“It feels surreal,” said Shelby. “For the last 12 years I have been in school and to be at the finish line with my dad, getting our degrees, I couldn’t be happier.”
In the future, both Jeff and Shelby are exploring the idea of graduate school.
As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.
In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.