Take a moment to get to know Lauren VanNess, one of two 2018-2019 student orientation specialists in the Office of New Student & Family Programs.
Tell us about yourself. My name is Lauren VanNess. I am a senior from Kansas City, Missouri studying Public Relations with a minor in Marketing. After I graduate with my bachelor’s degree, I would like to pursue my masters in Student Affairs in Higher Education. I have three major hobbies: ordering Chinese takeout, watching Netflix/Hulu, and organizing my planner!
Why do you think it’s important for student’s to get involved on campus? I think it’s extremely important for students to get involved on campus! I think the main reason why getting involved is so important is because it allows a student to figure out their passions, inside and outside of an academic setting. I was heavily involved in high school. I mean you name it, I was in it, but when I got to college I knew that I wanted to better understand what I was good at. I joined several organizations that helped me become a more well-rounded individual, and they helped me develop my skills and passions for an exciting career change. If I hadn’t of gotten involved then I think I wouldn’t have been able to find my strengths and further develop them to become a successful student leader.
What organizations are you involved with? How have these organizations helped you at Missouri State? I’m involved with Gamma Phi Beta (social sorority), University Ambassadors, New Student and Family Programs, Public Relations Student Society of America, several Honor Societies, Honors College, and the 2018 Homecoming Committee. These organizations have helped me in ways I didn’t think were possible! All of these organizations somehow tie into one another because any skill or opportunity I’ve been given has helped me succeed in other areas of my undergraduate career. If it weren’t for my involvements, I wouldn’t be the person, leader, and student I am today.
You have been a SOAR leader. Why did you want to be a SOAR leader and what lessons did you learn? My biggest influence for wanting to become a SOAR Leader was my best friend Macy. She raved about her summer and all of the connections she made to other students and to the university as a whole. She encouraged me to apply, and I’m so thankful that I did! Being a SOAR Leader for these past two summers has helped me better understand what I want to do after college, and how to make the rest of my college experience better. I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my two summers of SOAR has come from my students. After seeing their excitement and enthusiasm, I understand now that it’s important to look at every opportunity as a new experience because being a Bear is something you’ll never want to forget.
What advice do you have for family members to help them support their student? Support your student in the way that suits their situation best. I know my parents send me encouraging texts before a big test or project, but if I have a whole week that is busy then my mom will send me a card with a Starbucks gift card to help me through it all. It’s important to ask your student how they want to be supported, whether it’s through texts, care packages, or phone calls. Outside support is crucial to the success of a student both academically and socially.What’s your favorite MSU tradition? Why? My favorite MSU Tradition is attending Bear Bash. Welcome Weekend is by far the most energetic time at Missouri State because students of all kinds come out to interact and be a apart of the BEARUP! culture we have. It’s a perfect time to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and fall more in love with your university. I’ve never missed one, and it’s where I met some of the most important people in my life!
What is your best advice for students as they start a new year at Missouri State? Take a chance. Whether that means sitting with new people in the dining hall, joining an organization that you’re interested in, or putting yourself out there, Missouri State has plenty of opportunities that can help you become more connected and comfortable with college life!
What is the best advice anyone gave you about going to college? The biggest piece of advice I was given before I went to college was cherish the relationships and friendships that you make in college because they will last a lifetime. I wasn’t sure what people meant by this until I met my best friend at Bear Bash 2015, but it’s so true! The people you meet in college are so different than high school, and it’s so exciting to experience college together. Make sure to make friends in your classes and organizations because you never know when you’ll need a friend to help you get through the day!
If you could give your 18 year old self, advice what would it be? Don’t be afraid of change! Reinvent yourself. Find a new passion or try out a new haircut!? The possibilities are endless at Missouri State. Growing up and changing is for the best. Trust me, you may think you’re the bee’s knees right now, but just you wait because you have no idea what’s headed your way, but you’re going to love it!