Auburn Women

Debbie Burnett Nowlin ’83

Debbie Nowlin '83

“I am Auburn!”

I will never forget that very first day of class at Auburn University. I was 18 years old, right out of high school and ready for that next new adventure. I chose Auburn even though my mom was a UGA bulldog. Somehow, we children have to just find our own way sometimes, and mine was going to be AU. Little did my mom and dad know that my decision to go to Auburn included being only just 35 miles away from home, from family, which was very important to me. Besides, after visiting AU many times who wouldn’t want to go there? Nevertheless, my first day walking to class was a new beginning that changed my life forever.

It was 7:30 a.m. and I was walking to the Haley Center for my first class. As I was walking, I was carefully studying my printed schedule (there were no cell phones then, of course) and planning my course to each class for that first time. Why I felt the need to study it, there is no wonder, as I had memorized everything about it and even went days earlier to locate and take a look at each classroom. I just had to be sure. As I was walking and looking down at my schedule, others on that same pathway were walking and speaking to each other as they passed on that sidewalk on the left side of Samford Hall (you know the place). It was early and I thought “wow, how do all these people know each other” as there were constant “HI’s”, “Hellos”, and “Good Mornings” expressed not by some of the people passing but by all. By the time I reached the back corner of Samford (less than 20 feet) I came to realize that all those greetings I heard were actually for me and the next person that they met as well as the next.

My very first lesson at AU within a very few minutes of walking to class for the first day was that the people here are not just people per se, but instant new acquaintances all around me that angels had to be dropping from heaven. “Is this real?” I quickly made the decision that my quiet, timid self had to be left behind and immediately. I then shoved my schedule into my English book so that I could fully engage in what I now call the beginning of the ‘Auburn experience’ …a mere simple experience but holding more meaningful than you can ever imagine. What a first day…what a time that touched my heart in a way that has remained since that very first day. This is Auburn!

My five years at Auburn as I obtained my Pharmacy degree was an everlasting experience. It was hard to say the least, the curriculum that is, but my goal since I was 16 was to do this…become a pharmacist. School and studying had to be the priority but nevertheless, the Auburn experience was warming as well as rewarding. Now as a pharmacy director for a health system 35 miles away, I recognize that the Auburn experience built my foundation and was the springboard for me to make a touchdown (football had to be mentioned) for whatever came my way. Staying connected through my career and practice sites as an adjunct faculty member for the university, I value the opportunity to help other students find their way as I did. Thank you Harrison School of Pharmacy! Thank you Auburn!

Auburn is very dear to my heart; dear to the extent that my husband, Tom, also an AU alumni and pharmacist, and I have decided to follow the wave and make Auburn our home. We love the togetherness of this community and want to be smack, dab in the middle of it to experience the Auburn way each and every day. We are actively in the process of developing plans to build in the heart of Auburn. All I can say is “War Eagle!” to that.

As we all have our own personal experiences to share, I appreciate the opportunity to share mine with this special 125th anniversary event. I wish the best for all that come to Auburn and hope that their experiences will be as good as or better than mine. I can promise that the feelings and culture are like no other; you will also leave saying…”I am Auburn!” and yes… for all those alumni women and all others who love AU…“We are Auburn”.