We love to catch up with students who have gone through the program and see what they are up to after spending a semester with Chicago Center. We highlight Summer 2014's Lauren Strain from Southwestern College to hear about her experience in Chicago.
"It’s amazing how much your identity can change as you transition from college to adulthood. When I think back to my summer in Chicago, all that comes to mind is how different of a person I am now even though it was only a short four years ago. The experience with the Chicago Center stimulated so much thinking about who I was as a person and who I wanted to be. I’d like to think my experience is one to learn from and I think that ultimately was the purpose.
If you were to ask me about my experience in Chicago four years ago I would tell you I was homesick, frustrated because I didn’t have my car and that I wished I would’ve spent my summer differently. I truly hope you keep reading though because what I actually got out of the experience was priceless and irreplaceable.
Culturally, I learned a tremendous amount about diversity and the importance of embracing a world that can see the value in being different. I learned that if you don’t choose to look past the surface of a face, story or situation than you are missing out on such a beautiful opportunity to grow. Personally, I learned more about myself than I ever even thought possible. I learned stepping out of your comfort zone might be uncomfortable and awkward, but the reward is far greater than you think and lasts a lifetime. I learned that being lazy gets you nowhere. Being lazy keeps you still and stagnant. Being lazy robs you of progress. I learned opportunities should be seized and not selfishly brushed away. I learned all experiences aren’t about laying out on the beach with a drink in your hand and not a care in the world. If you want to be more in this world then you must assertively and intently run after what you want; not walk, not jog, but run!
The Chicago Center taught me so many lessons and for that I have no regrets and no complaints. Today I am a hard worker, I want the most out of life and I am passionate about people. I may want to enjoy a good Netflix series every now and then but letting my life waste away by being lazy is not an option. I am about to be a mother and my goal is to pass on everything I have learned to my daughter. My road map of life will become her guide, so I thank The Chicago Center for helping to mold me into the woman I am today!"