From a very young age, Lauren has been very passionate about helping people be independent and have a voice of their own. At the age of fourteen, she learned this lesson herself after a serious car accident left her paralyzed. Lauren had to discover how to live an entirely different life. She had to learn how to ask people for help in doing things she struggled to do by herself, and had to make an effort not to isolate herself from others and instead make friends and continue living her life.
Living around hospital and rehabilitation staff, she saw a lot of other people with disabilities who were not able to communicate their needs to others. Lauren became great friends with other people with disabilities and health professionals and, when she got to college, she decided to major in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology. Now she is pursuing a master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology, and is even closer to achieving her dreams. She hopes to find a position in a clinical fellowship after she gets her degree, then work in schools with children helping them directly as a Speech-Language therapist.
This isn’t the only way Lauren is helping children though. She was a part of Operation Smile and helped children with cleft palates get the surgeries they needed to be able to speak and live normal lives. She loved seeing the before and after pictures of the children and really felt that it hit home to see how their lives were changed. This feeling further encouraged her that she was on the right path in her major and career choices in life.
One big thing that truly made a difference in Lauren’s life here at Kent State was the kindness and helpfulness of the housekeeping staff, carpenters, professors, and supervisors here on campus. The housekeeping staff showed her the best ways to get around that were accessible with her wheelchair and were always friendly faces to see on campus. The carpenters though really made her visions come true. Lauren wanted to work with children, but was always worried about getting down to their level on the floor to play with them because of her disability. Together with the carpenters and her supervisors, a transfer bench was created to lower her down in order to work with the children.
Lauren’s persistence in life has allowed her to overcome any obstacle put in front of her. If something isn’t right in her eyes or doesn’t work for her, she finds a way to make it work. One obstacle she wants to overcome in the future is having a home built for her that is made to be accessible. She wants to feel comfortable and independent in her home with a family of her own.
What she will remember most about Kent State are the people she created relationships with: the students and staff that helped her grow into a person able to advocate for herself. These people helped her learn that “there’s nothing that [she] can’t do. It’s just the way [she goes] about doing it that may be different from everybody else.”