Once skeptical about college, first-generation freshman carving own path

November 08, 2023

Lane Duncan
Lane Duncan

Throughout high school, Lane Duncan was on the fence about whether to go to college. It wasn’t for lack of focus, rather Duncan is interested in a lot of areas. Music. Photography. Entrepreneurship. Gaming.

“I actually wanted to try to become a musician,” said Duncan, who’s from Springfield, Missouri. “My dad was always pushing for college, but I didn’t think it was for me. But my dad had also tried to be a musician and warned me not to put all my eggs in one basket.”

It’s First Generation Student Week, and Duncan is one of about 25% of Mizzou students who are first in their families to attend college. The university is celebrating the week with a variety of events and activities, including workshops, an alumni panel discussion and a research mixer.

After exploring music and business programs at Mizzou, Duncan decided to enroll in computer science after a video on a day in the life of a computer programmer piqued interest.

“I thought it seemed pretty cool,” Duncan said. “It seemed to provide practical skills. And I like a challenge. I’m in Computer Science 1050, which is tough but fun. I’m learning base knowledge and problem solving and am looking forward to using what I learn to create video games.”

Less than three months into first semester, college is exceeding expectations. Duncan is a photographer on the staff of The Shamrock, a student-run newsletter that explores the lighter side of engineering, is involved in the Improv Club and is further developing musical talents as a member of the Music Production Club with a focus on hip hop beats.

This coming semester, Duncan and a friend plan to start a Mizzou Enlightenment Club, a non-denominational group for students interested in self-improvement. Duncan — a natural leader — will serve as both vice president and treasurer.

If Duncan has learned anything from first semester, it’s that college is not what it looks like in the movies.

“You don’t have to limit yourself with school or a single path. I’ll always be involved in music and photography and will continue to use my skills to be creative. It’s expanding my view and allowing me to carve out my own path. I’m learning something valuable and gaining applicable skills while still enjoying the freedom to explore new opportunities.”

On the fence about college? Rethink the future at Mizzou Engineering!