The McMillan family has experienced some devastating events in the last 15 years. However, those experiences have not only brought them closer together; there have been some amazing blessings that have risen from those circumstances.
January 7, 2002 was a day that would change the McMillan family forever.
Melissa was driving her two children to school; Lauren 10-years-old and younger brother Garrett who was seven years old at the time. Melissa says a man fell asleep at the wheel and hit the family going 70 miles per hour. As a result of that crash, Lauren sustained a broken neck and ended up on a ventilator.
Unbelievably, the McMillan family endured another vehicle crash in 2015 when they were hit by a driver texting on his phone. Lauren sustained serious injuries; her legs were broken, collapsed lung, lacerated kidney, and a concussion.
That was not enough to keep the resilient Lauren down for long.
Lauren and her mother Melissa had previously attended community college in Port Arthur taking their basic classes together and earning their associate’s degrees. The duo decided to further their education by attending Lamar University.
Melissa was attending classes with Lauren to help take notes and assist in any way that Lauren needed. One of the professors asked Melissa why she was not taking the classes herself and getting credit. After that first semester, she joined her daughter as a college student at Lamar.
The mother and daughter are graduating Lamar in December after attending for around seven years. The second accident delayed them from graduating by about one year.
Attending college together has brought them even closer. Although, as Melissa says, the difficult experiences they have had as a family has certainly made them very close. “I got to see a different side of her that most people don’t get to see in their kids. I got to see the student side of her; how she interacts with others. I think it’s definitely brought us closer. That’s a blessing,” she said.
When asked what special trip she would like to take to celebrate their upcoming graduation, Lauren said she wanted to go to Washington D.C.
In order to tour the White House and the Capitol, visitors are required to make their requests one month in advance. Melissa did that and they embarked on their family trip this summer.
U.S. State Representative Brian Babin’s wife, Roxanne, personally guided the McMillan family on their tour of the White House. “That was amazing,” said Melissa.
The excitement did not stop there. Representative Babin’s staff took the family on a tour of the Capitol and they were able to meet with him. “He wanted to know all about us,” said Melissa. “It was an awesome experience,” she said.
Rep. Babin posted on his Facebook page regarding the McMillan family’s visit. “Very grateful to have had the opportunity to meet the McMillan Family from Lumberton, Texas.” His post continues to state, ”In December, they both will graduate from Lamar University – as Lauren’s mother accompanied her every day to school. A truly wonderful and inspiring family. Thank you Melissa, David, Lauren and Hannah – we hope you enjoyed your visit to our nation’s capital!”
They are home from their vacation now and ready to prepare for graduation in December.
Lauren is earning her degree in Nutrition and Melissa’s degree will be in Family Studies. Lauren’s goal is to have a career where she can plan meals for schools, nursing homes, or anyone she can work with. Melissa says that’s what she always wanted to do and she is great at it. Lauren was also inducted into the National Honor Society.
“She’s amazing,” Melissa said of Lauren. “She’s what keeps me going. I can tell you that I would have quit a long time ago.”
Melissa is interested in working with family violence victims; possibly something at the Garth House or the Hardin County Crime Victim’s Assistance Center.
“So many blessings have come out of this tragedy. All the people we have met and the things we’ve got to do,” said Melissa.
As the family was leaving Rep. Babin’s office, he gave Lauren and her sister Hannah a special coin. As he handed it to the sisters, he said he wanted to give them this gift as a reminder to never give up on your dreams.
“He was just amazing. He and his wife have hearts as big as Texas,” said Melissa.