Lubbock: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The biggest decision for many college students as their graduation date approaches is deciding where life will take them next.

For Texas Tech students, they must decide whether to stay put in their beloved Lubbock or take their career elsewhere, leaving their college years behind them.

Texas Tech School of Nursing alumna Kaitlyn Jones said she met some of her closest friends at Tech, but it did not stop her from moving back to the Dallas area after graduation.

Kaitlyn Jones, RN / Photo from Kaitlyn Jones

Jones currently works at Baylor University Medical Center as a nurse in the ICU unit.

Although she still loves Tech, Jones said being away from Lubbock has helped her transition into the adult world.

“Moving helped me cut myself off from the college life and definitely helped the reality set in that I’m graduated and I’m moving onto adult things,” Jones said.

Jones said although her friends could try to persuade her to come back to Lubbock, the college atmosphere of the town would make it hard to make a living.

“A lot of stuff that happens in Lubbock is based around Tech,” Jones said. “For bigger towns, like Austin, it is less likely that everything is concentrated in the college area.”

Unlike Jones, alumnus Cody Redfern saw Lubbock as an ideal town to start a career and raise a family.

Redfern majored in multidisciplinary studies at Tech and is now a seventh grade science teacher and athletic coach at Laura Bush Middle School in the Lubbock Cooper Independent School District.

Redfern said he feels that Lubbock has impacted his career in a positive way and being in a smaller school makes the job feel more like home than a work place.

Cody Redfern with Laura Bush Middle School girl’s volleyball team

“Lubbock Cooper is a smaller school district where I am not just another face in the district, like other school districts in other cities,” Redfern said. “Here, I am able to build up a name for myself as a teacher and in the community.”

Redfern, originally from Austin, said he enjoys that Lubbock seems to move at a slower pace, is less crowded, and the people are more friendly than those in Austin.

Being in Lubbock has helped him, his wife Rebecca, who owns a local boutique, and their two-year-old daughter grow together and solely rely on each other since no other family members live close-by, Redfern said.

Redfern said the only reasons he would leave Lubbock were if him or his wife got a job promotion. Other than that, he said they love it too much to leave.

“We had our child here in Lubbock and love the environment and city as as a whole, and wanted to continue allowing our child to grow up in Lubbock and eventually attend Lubbock Cooper and possibly even help with Rebecca’s boutique as she gets older,” Redfern said.

Cody Redfern with wife Rebecca, and daughter Harper

So, what is the verdict? Do Tech graduates typically stay in Lubbock or leave after graduation?

Jay Killough, the managing director at the University Career Center, said it is a mixed bag of students who want to stay and students who want to leave, and it’s not an overpowering number on either side.

Killough said a large majority of students are from the Austin, Dallas and Houston areas and want to return to those bigger cities to work, however, some students fall in love with the small-town feel of Lubbock and want to stay.

Although there is a large number of graduates who end up leaving the town that gave them their college years, the Lubbock wind sometimes blows them back to good ol’ west Texas.

“One thing I do notice is that the students that do go to Austin, Dallas and Houston, any big city, after four to five years there they call us saying, ‘hey, can you help alumni, I want move back to Lubbock’,” Killough said. “It’s a good place to raise a family, less traffic, and it’s just not the hustle and bustle of the big city.”

Killough, who is raising a family himself here, said Lubbock is growing and believes it is only getting better.

According to Killough, the job status in Lubbock is good for students coming out of college, and anyone who wants to stay can find an opportunity that suits them.

“Just be happy where you are and make the most if it,” Killough said. “The grass is not always greener on the other side. You have to water the grass, and make it green yourself.”

About Haley Turner

Haley is a journalism major and the Hub's community reporter. She loves all things Chick-fil-A, cold weather, and candles. Her dream is to live in Colorado and work for a local news publication or company.

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