Students Making A Difference

For students at Texas Tech University, success is more than just a goal—it’s a way of life. With a wide range of resources at their disposal, students are prepared to tackle whatever challenges come their way. From top-notch professors to state-of-the-art facilities, Texas Tech provides everything its students need to excel.

Students such as Austyn Peacock, Blaine Allen, and Shelby Hernandez are shining examples of our university’s commitment to setting its students up for success.

For these students, support from the college has translated into real-world achievements. Whether they are launching their careers or making groundbreaking discoveries in their fields, they are proof that Texas Tech is truly a launchpad for success.

One student at Texas Tech continues to inspire and overcome great obstacles. What most people see as a setback, this student sees it as an opportunity.

Austyn Peacock was sitting in her living room face to face with her favorite pair of sneakers. Tears streamed down her face as she tried to lace her shoes to catch up with her family as they left the house. Peacock’s aunt walked over to her with compassion on her sleeve but is quickly stopped in her tracks by a booming voice.

“Do not help her, she needs to figure out how to do these things on her own,” Peacock’s dad said.

The majority of Peacock’s life growing up was filled with competition in numerous sports such as volleyball, soccer, and breakaway roping. There was just one catch that would change the trajectory of Peacock’s life.

Peacock was born with a rare condition called Amniotic Band Syndrome, which caused her left arm to remain underdeveloped, not extending past her elbow. Peacock only has one arm, but this did not scare her away from her competitive lifestyle.

As Peacock grew older, her love for horses and roping grew too. It quickly became her first love as an outlet for competition.

“My parents would pick me up from soccer around 6:30 p.m. and then we would go ride horses every single night,” Peacock said. “There would be nights my parents would pick me up from soccer practice with a horse trailer because we had a rodeo to compete in.”           

Because Peacock was dedicated to the sport of roping, Peacock’s dad worked to find ways to allow her to compete in a safe way.

“On my saddles and reins I have loops,” she said. “I have one that connects to my saddle horn so I can turn my horse and hold on. It took my dad years to find something that worked for me, it started out with a tie down that we just zip tied and duct taped together just so I could hold on.”

Finding a way to safely rope from horseback was not the only obstacle that Peacock had to overcome. Peacock had to persevere through criticism and judgements as she walked in to compete at her roping events.

“I remember going to a rodeo and being made fun of the whole weekend,” she said. “I threw my rope into the dirt and people laughed at me, ‘I am never going to rope again,’ I said. Fast forward three years later and I picked it back up again. People still laughed at me so I quit again.”

Peacock began her freshman year at Texas Tech University in 2021 to major in agricultural education and realized she needed to find a hobby.

“I didn’t bring a horse with me to college but as time went on, I realized that I needed a horse with me,” she said. “I didn’t know what else to do. So, my parents brought my horse, and I entered in a rodeo that same weekend and roped for the first time in years. I ended up doing really good which was a huge confidence boost for me.”

Despite the obstacles Peacock faced during her years of roping, she remained dedicated to the sport of roping and overcoming stereotypes.

“The cool thing about roping is that when people first look at me, they don’t think I can do it,” she said. “I like to prove them wrong.”

Roping not only taught Peacock how to work hard, but also how to not let the odds overcome your dreams. She hopes to become an agricultural science teacher to help other kids achieve even their craziest dreams.

“There’s nothing I can’t do. I just may have to do it differently than others,” Peacock said.

“There’s nothing I can’t do. I just may have to do it differently than others.”

Austyn Peacock

While Peacock overcame all odds to reach the top, other students at Texas Tech like Shelby Hernandez are making strides in research and discovery that fuel a unique way to foster achievement.

When you think of South Plains agriculture, you usually think of the endless expanse of cotton, as far as the eye can see. Or the tall stalks of sorghum that blow in the wild, west Texas wind. But have you ever thought of the unsung heroes of the entomological world that keep this natural phenomenon in balance?

 One student at Texas Tech University developed a passion for conservation after the Davis College opened her eyes to entomology’s impact on the region. Shelby Hernandez has a passion for entomology and wants to use her passion to build and maintain the critical ecosystem of insects.

Shelby Hernandez, the face behind incredible research.

“At first, I was terrified, especially of spiders, but as I took more classes my whole perspective changed,” Hernandez said.

Born and raised in Lubbock, Texas, Hernandez originally wanted to be a vet somewhere far away from the South Plains. However, when Hernandez came to Texas Tech and double majored in plant and animal science, she enrolled in Dr. Scott Longings’ Introduction to Entomology class and was amazed by Longings’ passion for the field.

“After hearing about his research and how excited he was every day, that made me decide to get involved in his research,” Hernandez said.

Currently finishing her last year at Texas Tech, Hernandez is spending her time working on a catalog that will be extremely beneficial to the conservation of insects in the region.

“We are digitizing information on these insects and putting them into a catalog that can be used by scientists in the field to monitor population in certain areas,” Hernandez said.

While Hernandez and her team is passionate about all kinds of insects, there is one specific insect that captures their attention. Apis Melifera, or more commonly known as the Western Honeybee, is nature’s hardest worker, and is at risk of being eradicated from the region.

 Many may question why the Davis College is funding research focused on honeybees, but understanding how much impact they have on us will help us understand the critical importance of the work of Hernandez and Dr. Longing.

Honeybees play a key role in the pollination process that keeps native plant life abundant. Over the past decade, pollinators like the Monarch Butterfly have been put on the endangered species list, decreasing the spread of plant life. Furthermore, due to an increase in the African Honeybee population in Texas, it has had a detrimental effect on the native honeybee species.

To save the population, Hernandez and her fellow researchers studied the plant species that the native bees were favoring and documented the area surrounding the plants so that field researchers can allow the hives to expand.

Hernandez daydreams of being out in the field as well. All because of an opportunity the Davis College gave her to study these insects up close and personal.

Hernandez was also surprised to see how many students share the same passion as her. This shared passion with other students gives her the push to continue her hard work and dedication.

“I really thought this was a niche thing I was doing,” she said. “I never imagined how many people share my ideas. Getting to meet all these students and their interests gets me excited about what we are building.”

After four years at Texas Tech, Shelby is excited to pursue her passions as a graduate student and hopes that future students chase their dreams as she did.

“I am forever grateful for Texas Tech for giving me the opportunity to try new things and surround myself with some really great people,” she said. “My advice is that it’s never too late to do something great. If you feel strongly about something don’t be afraid to do whatever it takes to accomplish your goal.”

Davis College has displayed the determined grit from Peacock and passionate research from Hernandez, but there is one aspect of the college that displays the pride of Texas Tech. Service leadership is vital in Davis College and Blaine Allen, an agricultural and applied economics major at Texas Tech is pivotal in fostering this lasting reputation.

Growing up, Allen established home base in a small town on a corn and cotton farm in Lolita, Texas, while also having an active cow-calf operation. Little did Allen know that the skills and work ethic that he had learned in his years of growing up in agriculture, would be his fuel for success at Davis College.

Blaine Allen strives for honor outside of the classroom at the TTU Horticultural Gardens.

Flash forward three years later, Allen is now a senior agricultural and applied economics major at Texas Tech. Being a fourth generation Texas Tech student, Allen knows what it means to bleed red and black. He is involved in working at the Horticulture Center on campus, a member of AgriTechsans, and a leader in his college ministry at Victory Life Church.

“When I came to tour Texas Tech, I met with an AgriTechsan who made me feel right at home,” Allen said. “I instantly knew that Lubbock was the best ‘little big town’ for me to be in. I also decided in that moment that I wanted to be an AgriTechsan because I just want to help people get to where they want to be.”

Allen now spends the majority of his time traveling to different high schools as well as stock shows around Texas to promote and inform others of all that the Davis College has done for him and his peers.

“One thing that really sticks out to me about the Davis College is how many inspiring adults we have running the department. It is the best feeling having professors who eventually turn into mentors,” Allen said.

While Allen is very proud of his work and time at Texas Tech, he said none of this would have been possible without his faith and church community.

“While the amazing professors and opportunities carried me throughout my time here at Tech, it was the Lord who sustained me,” he said. “I owe all my success and hard work to God.”

Allen is one of many Davis College students who strive for honor. He hopes his time at Texas Tech will inspire and encourage others to passionately and authentically pursue dreams no matter how big or small.

“My biggest piece of advice to incoming students would be to find good community,” Allen said. “Through Davis College and my church, I found just what I needed to push me in my walk toward the next season. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my support. Both academically and socially.”

As we celebrate Texas Tech’s centennial year, it’s clear the university has come a long way since its founding, but one thing that hasn’t changed –the dedication to providing a top-notch education to its students.

The stories of Austyn Peacock, Blaine Allen, and Shelby Hernandez are just a few examples of the many outstanding students who are excelling at the Davis College.

These students are not only making a name for themselves but also helping to advance the field of agriculture through their groundbreaking work and research. They are who make it possible and show Lubbock is truly the epicenter for innovation.

 They say, “From Here it’s Possible,” but the Davis College continues to show it has been possible.