XASS: Lauryn, welcome! Where are you from and what are you majoring in?
Lauryn: I’m from Fort Lauderdale in South Florida, and I just declared as an English major and a minor in human biology.
XASS: That’s an interesting combination. What led you down that road?
Lauryn: Oh, I would say growing up I loved to write but I also love the sciences. And we had a family friend who was very organized and just an amazing person and she was an ophthalmologist, and so I kind of asked her one day – I’m like a middle schooler – about her profession and it sounded like something that would be a cool career path for me to follow. So I knew I wanted to be a surgeon or work in the medical field, and then I realized doing eyes is a lot better than dealing with hearts or brains.
XASS: So you already have a specialty picked out? Is ophthalmology a residency you complete after med school?
Lauryn: Yeah, yeah. It requires more training to become an ophthalmologist than an optometrist. As an opthamologist you’re dealing with corneas and cataracts and that type of stuff. I find it super interesting. I’m also doing research on that right now.
XASS: So what brought you to Stanford? Florida is a long way from California.
Lauryn: Well, I guess I like to plan stuff very far in advance so I knew growing up that I wanted to go to Stanford. It has always been my dream school. So I applied to 17 other schools, just to be safe, but when I got into Stanford I was like, “Okay, there’s like no way I can turn this opportunity down now that it’s come about.” Although it was a challenge, because I had the opportunity to play college soccer for Williams College and that was a super-big opportunity for me. I also got an offer from Cornell, so I was torn between soccer and Stanford. But I decided on Stanford because education comes first over athletics. That should be a no brainer, but it did take a while for me to listen to God, listen to my family members who were like, “What are you doing?”
XASS: So how did you get connected to Chi Alpha?
Lauryn: It’s actually a great story. So freshman year Naomi was my RA in an all freshman dorm. And she was talking about, like, I think it was like a meeting of a bunch of Christian groups out on the basketball courts near Twain. Just like a meet and greet. And so I was interested in getting to know the different Christian groups on campus and she had mentioned that she was a part of Chi Alpha. I thought, “Cool, that sounds interesting. I’ll definitely check it out.” And then Hannah, my roommate, was also interested in looking for Christian community.
Growing up, I went to church, but I wasn’t involved in the community. And so I was looking for that involvement and when I saw a Chi Alpha sermon, I could definitely see what it was about. And from the first sermon that I went to, I was like, wow, this is super in line with my beliefs and with my church growing up, and I felt like at home.
XASS: So how has Stanford been for your faith? Positive, negative, somewhere in between?
Lauryn: I’ve definitely grown over the years here. Meeting with people regularly and being a part of a life group – especially the leadership part. That challenged me to study Scripture more closely and reflect a lot more on my faith. I felt like I was going through the motions before coming to Stanford, but now it’s like people ask me questions and if I want to be able to answer them truthfully have to have Scripture to back me up and I feel like that constantly pushes me to read Bible and to ask questions because I also didn’t think I had a space to ask questions that I was curious about in my own church growing up. But that was partially because I wasn’t around a group of students who were all my age or people who had walked in my path more recently,
So yeah, I’ve definitely grown. I actually was talking to my mom about this the other day. So I had never done partner praying before coming to Stanford – before Chi Alpha. And it was such a shock to me. I don’t know why. I think it kind of threw me off a little bit because I was like, “Wow, okay. So I just tell people a prayer request and that’s okay?” But now I’ve realized that that is one way that God helps you to reflect more accurately on what you need and what you can do for other people. There’s power through prayer. It’s just been amazing walking that journey and understanding better how to pray.
XASS: That’s really great. Do you have a favorite Bible verse or passage?
Lauryn: Yeah, I do. Proverbs, chapter two, verse six. “For the Lord giveth wisdom and out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”
It keeps me settled in my mind. I love playing soccer, but sometimes I get stressed out, or I just worry too much about very simple things, but then when I come back to this verse it calms me. It resets my mind.
XASS: Do you play soccer here?
Lauryn: Yeah, I play club soccer. Last year I was captain for club soccer and I will be this year again, but I did try walking on for soccer last year. That was a journey that was very tough emotionally and physically. Um, I didn’t make it. Winter quarter last year was pretty rough because that was hanging over it, but I was able to get through it. I kept to myself more, but I was reading my Bible and trying to really understand. I was like, “I believe God has a plan for me so I shouldn’t worry as much as I am like obviously in this moment.” It’s very hard to just retrain your mind to get on that right path. But I’m consistently working at it. It helped me remember that soccer is not all that and I can still play soccer. It’s not even like I have any debilitating injuries or anything. It might be hard, but there’s another plan that God sees that’s better.
XASS: Do you have any other nonacademic hobbies or passions?
Lauryn: Yeah, I like to write a lot. I’m thinking about writing a screenplay senior spring and I’m so excited because I’ve always wanted to write a screenplay, but I never had classes for that, but now I’m at Stanford and Stanford has everything. And I like to write short stories and poems in my free time.
XASS: We’re gonna run this interview over the summer when a lot of admits are checking out different ministries online. Do you have any advice for the class of 2024?
Lauryn: For Stanford in general, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Navigating Stanford yourself can be scary because you’re obviously a very well achieved student and you have goals, but this is all new. Ask people about the best schedule to keep or the classes to take.
For spiritual life at Stanford, let God put on your mind what the right path is right for you. Definitely ask your friends’ advice to see what groups to check out, but at the end of the day, there’s only one path that’s right for you and only God knows that. So maybe attend a few different Christian communities and see which one truly fits you. I would say that that’s pretty important. And try to do so early on. It’s really easy to make friends and explore groups as a freshman at Stanford.
XASS: Is there anything else I should have asked if I knew you better?
Lauryn: I don’t think so. Wait! I think one thing. I don’t think you would have known, but I’m deaf in my right ear and that was a little bit of a challenge in lectures. I didn’t know how to manage it because I never had the resources in my high school for hearing aids and other things I’ve been able to find at Stanford.
XASS: Is that congenital or did you have an injury at some point?
Lauryn: I think it was a public pool in… I want to say elementary school. I was pretty young. I got an ear infection and then from the ear infection I got hearing loss.
XASS: Thank you for telling me. I’m glad I asked. One last question – the classic Chi Alpha spotlight series question: “Are you in a relationship?”
Lauryn: I am not. I am single but I’m doing good. Yeah I’m pretty much chillin. That’s my motto.