About Lauren

Major: Multidisciplinary Studies

Hometown: Algonquin, Ill.

Why I chose RIT: After attending Explore Your Future (EYF), I fell in love with the campus, the accommodations for deaf and hard-of-hearing students are great, and I love the Rochester-based Wegmans supermarket!

Clubs/Activities: I am the vice president of the Masquers Drama Club, active in theater productions and bowl. I also am the author of Austin’s Gift, and sometimes make appearances related to organ donation.

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy public speaking, being creative, performing on stage, promoting organ/tissue donation and studying about policies that improve the lives of others.

What I like best about RIT: I love attending RIT hockey games!

Favorite T.V. Show: “Chopped,” and “Masterchef.”

Fun fact about me: I have donated 10 inches of hair to “Locks of Love” twice, most recently to prepare for my role as Charlie in RIT/NTID’s production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Posts by Lauren

Lauren and the Technicolor Dreamcoat

I must encourage you, if you’re a junior in high school, to look into the EYF (Explore your Future) Program here at RIT/NTID. Attending that camp gave me the confidence to pursue a degree at RIT/NTID. The idea of attending college intimidated me at that point in my life and I am astonished at the number of wonderful experiences I almost missed due too my lack of conviction. If you’re an incoming freshmen with a hearing loss, and don’t know sign language, I highly recommend you participate in the New Signers Program before your first year of college begins. I know I wish they had that program when I entered RIT/NTID. I envy those who will still be at RIT next year, because the new  hockey rink will be open! I guess I’ll have to come back to RIT for a homecoming game, and check out the new arena! In case you haven’t seen the outside of the arena. IT IS MASSIVE!
On a fun note, this past weekend, I went camping with some of my sorority sisters. It was the first time I had ever camped in my life! It was a blast! Below is a picture of me with my “little” who I will keep mentoring, throughout her college career.
I can’t believe it’s almost the end of my last semester! Where has the time gone? It’s unbelievable how much I have grown since I first came to RIT. I am truly grateful to everyone who has helped me get to where I am today. When I was born, my parents were told by the doctors that I had three days to live, unless I received a life-saving heart transplant. Here I am today, 24 years later, soon to graduate from RIT.

I am grateful to the numerous professors and advisers who supported me throughout my college career. I can never forget the fact that they helped one of my most ambitious dreams come true: publishing my autobiography. One professor who has been very special to me, Mrs. Toscano, just this week was awarded the Four Presidents Award. I felt honored to witness her accept the well deserved recognition. The professors and staff here are amazing, and they will help you find advantages to prepare you into the future.
I look forward to signing the National Anthem at convocation. It’s going to be bittersweet! I truly feel like I will be similar to “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” with the various color stoles that I will be wearing on graduation day, each representing a special set of memories. I’m looking forward to it!
If I could leave you with one piece of advice, I would tell you to try everything available during your time in college. Take advantage of the resources and activities special to your school. College is about discovering yourself. For me, the quote from Ezekiel has been meaningful from my first days of life right through to today: “I will give you a New Heart and a New Spirit.” It was only through the amazing and divergent opportunities here at RIT/NTID that I truly discovered the energy within myself. When I entered the EYF Program, I was recognized at the Spirit Writing Contest. Just recently, I  was awarded the Spirit Award at a banquet. These reveal the hidden meaning in the passage: that while my physical spirit is powerful, the activities here have empowered a bigger spirit within me. Thank you RIT/NTID!

Heart Disease Walk & Relay for Life

I apologize I haven’t posted earlier this past week. I’ve been so busy that finally I have time to drink my chai, and type a blog on my laptop that’s not homework related.

 As I mentioned before, I have been looking for a summer internship. I received two offers since I last typed a blog. I think I am going to take the internship in Washington D.C., working in a congressional office.
Two weekends ago, I attended the Roseball. It was a fraternity dance and one of my friends asked me to be his date. I had a lovely time.
This past weekend, I attended the downtown Rochester Heart Disease Walk. It was so much fun walking 3.5 miles on a beautiful sunny day with friends, supporting a great cause. The same day, I attended Relay for Life on campus. It was quite a productive day. Below are pictures from the Heart Walk and Relay for Life.
My sorority is in the midst of pairing big and little sisters, whose relationship may go on their whole lives. It’s a secretive but wonderful time!
That’s all for now folks! It’s great to see the sun out in Rochester, finally!

Spring Break

Believe it or not Spring Break is taking place this week!

Ask me what I am doing, and it is pretty much applying for a summer co-op. For positions I am interested in, the deadline is in April. I’m really hoping to work for Senator Schumer or Senator Durbin. Whatever I do in the future, I still want to be actively involved in promoting organ donation and volunteering for the Make A Wish Foundation.

In the meantime, it’s been great visiting with my relatives. I’ve been very crafty, making things for family members who are ill in the hospital. It’s been a little rough for my family lately. I do my very best to cheer them up! I made a blanket for my uncle who recently had surgery, made a pie from scratch for my aunt who is in a nursing home, and a cook book for my godmother. Hopefully watching for changes signaling spring is here. Tomorrow I am going to downtown Chicago, and I can’t wait!



Lola Heads to Niagara Falls

I HAD AN AMAZING TIME THIS PAST WEEKEND! I don’t know which was my favorite: going to Niagara Falls with many of my family members who visited from out of state, visiting Corning’s glass blowing exhibit, taking my brother to Java Wally’s on campus, or treating the family to outstanding carrot cake, made in Rochester!

We were all excited about the day trip to Niagara Falls, because for the second time this winter, the polar vortex created amazing cave like formations, where the steam arose from the plunging waterfalls. Walkways I trod last April were closed due to deep snow. Below is a picture with some of my family members spelling “Frozen” to remember this family adventure.


This past weekend I performed my final college theater performance as “Lola” in Damn Yankees. My favorite part was my entrance on stage, because I got to ride on top of a red car, along with my amazing voice actress. What I really like about NTID Panara Theater, and what I will TRULY miss, is that I enjoy the opportunity to interact with students and community members. In this positive atmosphere, deaf, hard-of hearing and hearing work together on a project that may not be related to their primary studies. I signed my lines, while my hearing partner (who happens to be majoring in electrical engineering) voices or sings what I am signing. What’s even more fun is that my voice actress and I synchronized our dance, making me feel that we were mirrored twins.


Another Use For Duct Tape

BRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!! It is cold outside! I hope you are staying warm and enjoying ice skating, skiing or hockey during your spare time!

Our fundraising event, “Sweets for Sigma,”  went well and I was happy that NTID’s President Dr. Gerry Buckley was one of my customers. He was accompanied by his adorable granddaughters, one of them was wearing a tutu made by moi’. Dr. Buckley is so good at showing his support of student endeavors;  it makes sense he has a degree in social work, but his support goes above and beyond!
 photo (2)
This past weekend I played in a Broomball tournament and it was so much fun! If you don’t know what Broomball is, it’s basically ice hockey, but you wear gym shoes instead of skates. It was so much fun that I played until 4:00 AM! I was excited because I was playing in the arena where the RIT men’s/women’s hockey teams compete: Ritter Arena! Did you know RIT is currently building a bigger and better hockey rink? Hockey is a huge deal around here.
I am still rehearsing for “Damn Yankees” and below is a picture of creative use of duct tape. There is a tradition here at RIT that duct tape is used in advertisements to promote campus happenings. The preponderance of brick walls probably has a lot to do with the selection of duct tape in creating notices!
photo (95)

Sweet Stories for RIT/NTID

What are you doing to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2014?  Whether it’s treating yourself to some chocolate or taking someone out for a nice dinner, I hope you have a safe weekend. I have been thinking of Valentine’s Day in 1990, which was the first time I was able to go home after I was born in December; because it was after my heart transplant. How ironic, I got to go home on America’s “heart day.”
This Valentine’s Day will be a little different for me. A man in my life asked me out on a date in front of all my beautiful sorority sisters a few days ago. It was quite dramatic, since he appeared by  jumping out of a huge red box that I had to open, and handed me a single red rose. Needless to say, I was speechless! I was surprised, and appreciated his creativity and thoughtfulness.
I am looking forward to February 20, when my sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma, is hosting a fundraising event on campus AND YOU ARE ALL INVITED! For $3.00 you get to eat all the dessert you want! You can’t go wrong with sweets!
In the meantime, between classes I constantly study my lines for “Damn Yankees,” an upcoming play that I will perform in this March. I love the cast and I am having so much fun making new friends!
I better go back to reading “Much Ado” for my Drama & Theater class!
Have a Sweet Day!

A Special Visit

Did you know that there is a push to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour? The current administration feels this move is needed to get full-time workers out of poverty.

Would you be willing to stand outside, braving the freezing temperatures, for the opportunity to hear Vice President Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden speak? Trust me, it was worth it! MCC (Monroe Community College) Applied Technologies Center hosted the event, at which Vice President Biden discussed a topic near and dear to students hearts: education directed at jobs that are currently unfilled. After Vice President Biden’s presentation, exposing the job openings due to the lack of workers that have specific training, Dr. Jill Biden, who is herself a professor at a community college, discussed the important role community college programs fulfill as they adapt programs to supply the training currently in demand by businesses.

Claudia Gordon (First African American deaf woman political appointee with the Obama Administration, serving as Special Assistant to the Director of the US Department of Labor) was able to secure a few tickets for NTID President Dr. Buckley. Twelve students, along with some professors, were fortunate to attend this unique experience. I was happy to see some familiar RIT/NTID faculty members attending when I arrived, including our wonderful Dr. Buckley, Dr. Todd Pagano (Professor of the Year), Dr. Jessica Cuculick (NTID alumna, who recently earned her Ph.D.), Professor/Lawyer/Rabbi Dr. Jennifer Gravitz, Dean/Professor Dr. Schmitz, Marianne Gustafson (Associate Dean for Curriculum & Special Projects), and last but not least, one of the most humble people I have ever met in my life, Dr. Bernie Hurwitz (Executive Assistant to the President).

My favorite part of Vice President Joe Biden’s speech was: “Men and women paid equally should happen.” I couldn’t agree more. What a powerful statement!

The Bidens reminded us that education truly leads to economic prosperity. They noted that manufacturing jobs are coming back to the US as the previous trend of outsourcing reverses.

Overall, I am grateful for this opportunity of a lifetime. I also presented a copy of my autobiography, Austin’s Gift, to an assistant of US Senator Schumer. That was pretty exciting for me!

On a personal note, thank you Claudia Gordon and NTID for making this experience possible!

photo (90)

Senator Charles E. Schumer

How wonderful that following the sequestration, funding for NTID has been increased by $4 million dollars! Many more dreams and ambitions can be fulfilled, thanks to the restoration of federal support. It was especially touching to be present to learn of Senator Schumer’s praise of NTID students, who (he reported) have greater success and more productive careers than any other comparable educational institution in the United States. He attributes this to our excellent faculty, the wonderful programming, the excellent educational  opportunities available at NTID, as well as our awesome student body. I was honored to have the opportunity to shake the Senator’s hand, and personally thank him for his support of our programs. Experiencing how beneficial NTID’s support has been during my college career, I was elated to convey my appreciation to Senator Schumer for his support in sustaining NTID’s programming. President Buckley enthusiastically welcomed the Senator, pointing out the contributions NTID has made (and continues to make) to RIT and the Rochester community. I was very proud of our faculty and my peers. Here is a link to the press release.

As promised, here is the upload of my meeting with baby Blake and his parents at the one year anniversary of his heart transplant!

Spring semester begins Monday and I can hardly wait! I am excited about my new classes. However, before classes begin, I will attend the women’s hockey game this Saturday. They will be auctioning off the “autism” themed jerseys: I LOVE THE DESIGN! I am proud to be part of a university with strong athletic programs that show great sportsmanship, student body enthusiasm, and who interact in community programs! Go TIGERS!

Heart to Heart

Do you have exciting plans for the holidays? I hope you’re staying warm, drinking hot chocolate, and having some fun in the snow (if you have any)! This break seems strange and special, being the first year I won’t  have to study or work on a project over holiday break, because of the new semester schedule. I must admit I left feeling relaxed, excited, and VERY happy I didn’t have to load up my suitcase with books for the flight home!

You may already know that I had a heart transplant when I was one week old. Now that I go to adult hospitals, I NEVER meet infants who have had a transplant. Just recently, I had an opportunity to meet a one-year-old named Blake, who had a transplant when he was 3 months old. Our connection began last year when I saw Blake’s story on the news in Rochester and was inspired by it. My parents often said one of their greatest challenges was there was no history of infants who had transplants, because I was born the year the transplant program began in Chicago! I never had a transplant model to look up to when I was born, and I wanted to encourage Blake and his family. I am sure that Blake will have a wonderful life ahead of him. I look forward to hearing all the wonderful things Blake will do, living life to the fullest with a new heart! I brought the family a copy of “Austin’s Gift, the Life of a Grateful Organ Recipient,” my autobiography, hoping some of my recollections would bring some enjoyment.

Below is a picture from my visit with Blake. Isn’t he cute? On Christmas day, our story will be aired on YNN News and I hope to be able to share the video with you next time I write a blog.

In the meantime, have a FANTASTIC holiday with your family.


Take the Time to Donate Blood

I hope you had a FANTASTIC Thanksgiving! I know I am still stuffed from all the food I ate! For the first time ever, I went to an NBA game during Thanksgiving break, and I had a wonderful time with my family! The best part was that the Chicago Bulls, my home team, won!

My most recent accomplishment at RIT/NTID would have to be selling ALL of my homemade cupcakes during Pulse Happy Hour, and having the money go to a benefit for my friend Alex’s medical bills. Pulse Happy Hour occurs bi-weekly on Fridays and takes place in the CSD Student Development Center. All the clubs get a table and have the opportunity to promote their organizations. It’s a great event where you can make new friends and find out about upcoming happenings that are hosted by a variety of clubs. Below is a picture of one of the customers who brought my cupcake. I am grateful for the people who support others in need, like student ambassador Stephanie Kiessling.
photo (82)
Recently, I became a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity and now have the opportunity to continue as hockey chairperson. That means I am in charge of gathering my “brothers” to usher at the hockey games. It’s so much fun, because we get to watch the game for free, and wear really warm bright orange jackets that say “STAFF” on the back. Our job is to inspect the aisles every so often to make sure nothing is getting in the way, in case of a fire hazard.
Next week, I will be volunteering at a blood drive on campus. I am excited because many years ago, my life was saved thanks to blood donors. I am glad to be giving back to the community by supporting such a noble cause. Everyone is busy with finals and the holiday season, making the need for blood more critical. There are many terrific people here who take the time to help others, and I am proud to call them friends.
I better get back to studying.  Finals are getting closer!