Aya & Emma Lyddon

Mother-Daughter Duo Achieve Success at Lane Together
Aya & Emma Lyddon smiling together with flowers in background

The lovely thing about Lane is that everybody is willing to connect with you and help you out in any way possible. It really does feel like I have a community of people who care about what I’m doing.

Though they took very different paths to Lane, mother and daughter Aya and Emma Lyddon will be celebrating together as they both graduate this June. As Commencement approaches, they reflect on what brought them to Lane, how they found their paths, and the importance of meeting up for coffee between classes.

Like many people fresh out of high school, Emma wasn’t sure if she wanted to go to college. “You’re always hearing ‘you’re going to go to college then be in debt,’” but she felt she should take advantage of the Oregon Promise grant program, which offers graduating seniors up to two years of nearly free tuition. She spent her first terms at Lane undecided and experimenting, until she took a photography class. “I remember being there in that class and getting to experience what it was like to be with other people who were also interested in what I was interested in. From that point, I realized I wanted to do Multimedia Design.”

Unlike Emma, Aya knew exactly what she wanted to study. She’d had lots of work experience, including owning a toy shop Eugenians might remember fondly: The Dancing Weasel. Her most recent job before Lane was working as a “receptionist/bookkeeper/little-bit-of-everything” at a construction company. Deciding she wanted to round out her skills by bringing in design, Aya enrolled in the Drafting program. “I had always been interested in architecture and interior design, but didn’t know how large the drafting area is—structural, electrical, diesel—the applications are robust.” Even when her employer’s company closed the first year of school, she stuck with the program and loved it. 

As a nontraditional and returning student, Aya balanced working full-time with taking full courseloads and being a mom (Emma’s little sister is also graduating this June, with her high school diploma). The flexibility of online classes helped Aya balance her workload, and working an on-campus job as a CTE (Career and Technical Education) Ambassador, helped her “learn to work in different dynamics and develop diverse skills.”

Meanwhile, Emma’s interest in photography helped her build a community at school. “The lovely thing about the program here at Lane is that everybody is willing to connect with you and help you out in any way possible. It really does feel like I have a community of people who care about what I’m doing.” One of her favorite classes, printmaking with Susan Lowdermilk, taught her the new art form of cyanotype photography, which influenced her final capstone project. Emma’s excited to show off her work along with the rest of the Multimedia students on June 14th at Lane’s Downtown center. 

Throughout their academic journeys, Aya and Emma’s connection as family and fellow students made their time at Lane truly unique.

“Without her, I genuinely don’t think I’d still be in college doing this. She inspired me,” Emma says.

“But, you know, it’s really just the meeting for coffee between classes that keeps her going,” Aya jokes.

Both mother and daughter’s hard work paid off. Through their programs, Emma and Aya took co-op internships which turned into job offers. Emma will be doing design at Trifoia, while Aya will be joining Evergreen Engineering as an electrical drafter. 

Their advice for future students? “Get involved in activities on campus or however you can,” says Aya. “Engage with instructors and peers. Reach out if you need help. There are so many programs here on campus to help you succeed.”

Emma adds, “There’s always something going on here. Talking to professors and fellow classmates helped me immensely. As soon as I started doing that and showing interest and asking for help, everyone was willing to help me out.”

With motherly wisdom, Aya sums it up: “When you’re a student, you’re inherently unsure, because you’re learning. It can be scary and hard to ask for help. But we’re all in it together.”