Barry McNamara  |  Published February 27, 2024

Blazing Her Own Trail

Legacy student Lauren Anderson excelling as a student, track athlete and leader as she pursues career in physical therapy.

SHE SOARS, SHE SCORES: Junior Lauren Anderson is a regular point scorer for the Fighting Scots at the Midwest Conference Ch... SHE SOARS, SHE SCORES: Junior Lauren Anderson is a regular point scorer for the Fighting Scots at the Midwest Conference Championships, including a strong contribution to the Fighting Scots' team title in 2022.MONMOUTH, Ill.Lauren Anderson’s experience at Monmouth College is a lesson in the value of testing preconceived notions.

LAUREN ANDERSON: Our professors are really understanding when we have a conflict. LAUREN ANDERSON: “Our professors are really understanding when we have a conflict.”The daughter of 1993 Monmouth graduate Terry Anderson and the niece of 1991 grad Craig Anderson – who’s now the executive director of the Illinois High School Association – Lauren’s thoughts as an upperclassman at Cambridge High School were that her family had already sent enough students to Monmouth. That list also included her cousin, Tucker Anderson ’21. Another cousin, Kendall Lewis ’25, is a current student.

“When I was looking at colleges, I was thinking I was going to go outside of Illinois and explore,” said the junior one winter morning while seated in the College’s Center for Science and Business. “A lot of my relatives went here, so I thought, ‘I’m not going here.’”

So what changed?

“I came on a visit, and I knew this is where I wanted to be,” said Anderson. “I had that walking-on-campus moment.”

“I came on a visit, and I knew this is where I wanted to be. I had that walking-on-campus moment.” – Lauren Anderson

She also had meetings with Roger Haynes, who at the time was the College’s track and field coach before assuming the role of full-time athletics director, and with faculty member Jen Braun, who teaches in Anderson’s health science and human movement major.

If there was any doubt after her favorable first impression of campus, those one-on-one talks sealed the deal.

“I would say, ‘Talk to as many people as you can, even students passing by,’” said Anderson of advice she’d pass on to prospective students. “Getting to know people on campus makes it an easier transition. The professors here really do remember people, so that’s pretty cool.”

Track, dance, and more

Anderson’s next piece of advice is to get involved. She’s a member of the Fighting Scots track and field team and is in her second year as co-captain of the Red Hot Scots, the College’s dance team. She’s also the women’s track representative on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, a group of student-athletes who offer College leaders insight on the student-athlete experience.

“That was definitely one of the sellers for me,” she said of the abundance of activities on campus.

“Our professors are really understanding when we have a conflict,” which, in Anderson’s case, occurs in connection with frequent road trips with the track team. She still completes the work – it just takes some time management.

“I’ll talk to my professors in advance if I’m missing their class, and I’ll get notes from a classmate. Sometimes, I do my homework on the bus, and then I’ll spend most of my Sundays here in the CSB or in the library.” – Lauren Anderson

“I’ll talk to my professors in advance if I’m missing their class, and I’ll get notes from a classmate,” she said. “Sometimes, I do my homework on the (charter) bus, and then I’ll spend most of my Sundays here in the CSB or in the library.”

And Anderson does have homework. In addition to her major, she’s minoring in three areas – chemistry, psychology and global public health – and she’s doing well across the board, making the Dean’s List again last fall.

Anderson is studying to be a physical therapist, and next fall, she’ll apply to physical therapy schools. In the summer, she’ll take the Graduate Record Examination and, hopefully, have another internship similar to the one she did last summer with Rock Valley Physical Therapy in Geneseo, Illinois.

Making Monmouth memories

But first comes a Monmouth May-term trip to Costa Rica, where Anderson hopes to add to her considerable collection of College memories. The best one to date, she said, came during her freshman year.

“We all came together, and we had multiple PRs as a team. … Celebrating with the team was amazing. I’d never experienced something like that before.” – Lauren Anderson

“We won the conference in track,” she said of the last meet that Haynes coached after four decades in charge of the Scots. “In that meet, we all came together, and we had multiple PRs as a team.”

The Scots edged the runner-up school by 31 points, and Anderson did her part by placing sixth in the high jump.

“Celebrating with the team was amazing,” she said. “I’d never experienced something like that before.”

Two years later, Anderson took fifth in the high jump at the recently concluded Midwest Conference indoor meet. She’s also done the long jump and sprinted during her time on the track team.

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