College of Humanities & the Arts
Art/Art History and Visual Culture
Why did you choose your major?
I switched majors about four times before I discovered Art History and immediately fell in love with the challenges that it poses. Art History is the perfect fusion of art and academics, and is writing- and research-intensive, which I enjoy. I was really drawn to this field which embodies not only “art” and “history”, but so many areas of interest to me: psychology, anthropology, English, literature, performance, and more. My minor, Theatre Arts, has been a passion of mine since I was in elementary school.
What does receiving this particular award mean to you?
I’ll be the first person in my family to obtain a four-year degree and I’ve really pushed and disciplined myself in order to compete academically and maintain my grades, so being recognized for all that hard work and sacrifice feels amazing. I’m honored.
Who was instrumental in your life and/or who has contributed to your academic success?
I’ve had the good fortune to have had many inspiring teachers and professors. Many of the wonderful Art History faculty at SJSU, including Anne Simonson and Christy Junkerman, have guided me through my studies. In my minor department, several Theatre professors, including David Kahn and Kathleen Normington, have helped strengthened me as an artist and a performer. My friends Gloria, Gaby, and Ana Marie have been amazing. My mother Kathy, sister Kerry, and the rest of my amazing family have given me all the emotional support I could ever ask for.
Did you overcome any hardships or adversities during your life, that has helped shape who you are today? And if so, could you please briefly elaborate?
I’m originally from the State of New York. My family has struggled financially for as long as I can remember, and though they have always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and express myself, as a child in a low-income home, we could never really afford the basic American luxuries (like a family car or a computer) and typically struggled for the necessities. The poor are villainized in our society, particularly poor parents, so my whole family spent much of my childhood battling social workers who were determined to rip my oldest niece and me away from our home. After September 11th, the economy in New York made it impossible for a low-income family to survive, so when I was fifteen years old, we moved to Los Angeles. My older sister had been offered a job out there, but it fell through immediately and the five of us (my mother, sister, aunt, niece, and I) were homeless for four months. Eventually we got back on our feet, but moved again, to the Central Valley. I ended up attending a total of three different high schools, and readjusting – reinventing myself to fit in – was always difficult. I was persistently teased by classmates for any number of things: for being poor, being plus-sized, being “a nerd.” When I entered college (which has presented a whole new set of challenges) I had already experienced hardships which many people don’t face until adulthood, or never face at all. During the course of my college studies, I’ve juggled 15-unit semesters and graveyard-shift jobs, had a cancer-scare, and had two loved ones come close dying of medical conditions. It’s been a bumpy ride, but I feel emotionally and intellectually stronger, and ready to face whatever the post-college world brings.
What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?
First, I would say: no matter who you are or what your background is, no matter what anyone tells you, you can do it. You can do anything. The boundaries only exist if you acknowledge them. Next: be prepared to manage your time and priorities. Give yourself little rewards (like going to the movies or something) for not procrastinating and for staying on task. Make a weekly schedule or goals – it works. Last: when you have the choice between “passing” and “getting an A”, go for that “A.” It’s within your reach. No matter what your major is, always pursue the greatest challenge. It’s fun. It’s exhilarating. You’ll be surprised by what you can achieve.
Where would you like to be in 5-10 years?
I know this sounds vague, but I’d like to have a career in the arts. Considering the state of our economy, I think that in itself is a healthy challenge. I will most certainly pursue my love of theatre, probably as a writer or director. I would also like to continue pursuing higher education – I love college, and if I could continue to study forever, I probably would…..
A few words from her nominating professor:
Lauren is a particularly intelligent student - I remember once she summarized a reading with such clarity that she made a fellow student gasp with admiration.