Single mother shares her journey to obtaining liberal arts degree and communications job


Alum Lindsay Buchanan poses in front of the sign for the Department of Energy, where she landed a job after graduating last May.

Brittany Parker, Editor-in-Chief

Recent graduate Lindsay Buchanan decided to pursue a college degree at the age of 27 while working several jobs as a single mother trying to provide for her two young daughters.

“Being a single mom and going back to school definitely had its challenges, but I was so blessed to have the support of my entire family who literally made it possible for me to graduate,” Buch-anan said. “I have so much respect for the single parents I know who have no support and struggle every single day in their quest to provide a better life for their kids.”

After graduating from FMU in May 2011 with a major in mass communication and a minor in political science, Buchanan secured a communications specialist job for the Office of Environmental Management (EM) at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Buchanan said that EM handles “the safe removal of all of our country’s nuclear waste that was accumulated as a result of WWII and the Cold War.”

Accepting the job meant that Buchanan, along with her daughters, had to move to the Washington, D.C. area, which Buchanan said was a big adjustment for them.

“The transition from Florence to D.C. has been huge for me and the girls,” Buchanan said. “The biggest thing to get used to has been not having family in town … Sometimes it feels like I just want to give up … In the end, though, I remember why I came, and I remind myself to stay true to accomplishing my goals and showing my girls what it means to work hard for your dreams.”

Buchanan enjoys her job, even when it gets stressful, and she appreciates the history that surrounds her.

“What I love best about my job is walking out of the building at the end of the day and feeling like I accomplished something useful, and then looking up as I walk to the Metro and seeing the Washington Monument high above everything else,” Buchanan said. “I know it’s not everyone’s ideal life, but  … there is never a day that I don’t feel excited to be a part of something bigger than me.”

Buchanan credited a large part of her ability to land her current job to the knowledge and skills she learned at FMU, as well as networking she did while spending a semester interning in D.C.

“I know it probably sounds a little corny, but being at FMU was life-changing for me,” Buchanan said. “The school provided me with opportunities I would otherwise never have experienced, and it really gave me the chance to learn more about myself and gain a new perspective on the world.”

Buchanan also mentioned several FMU professors who had an impact on her; how-ever, she pointed out the interest that one professor in particular took in her education and future.

“There is one professor who believed in me more than I believed in myself at times, and that is Maria Lundberg,” Buchanan said. “For four years she quietly watched my progress, supporting me and giving me opportunities that I didn’t even know existed. It is such a humbling feeling to know that a professor would not only notice you, but take the time to help make good things happen in your life.”

According to several of the professors in the Mass Communication Department, Buchanan was a talented and determined student. The department’s interim chair, Tim Hanson, said that he was happy to hear from her after graduation.

“Lindsay was a wonderful student, and all of us in the Department of Mass Communication are extremely proud of her,” Hanson said.

Buchanan offered advice to current FMU students based on her experiences.

“Don’t waste all of your time worrying about things that aren’t going to matter in a few years,” Buchanan said. “There are so many amazing opportunities right at your fingertips, and you don’t have to be an older student like me to experience them. Take advantage of what you can do now while you’re not tied down, and I promise you that when you look back in a few years, the things that are really going to stand out and even benefit you in the future are not going to be the parties you went to, but the semester you spent studying abroad or the internship you spent getting hands-on experience and meeting people who will give you a job later.”