Lauren Smith is a self-proclaimed non-traditional student. The senior biology major at A&M-Commerce had a prior career as a fire investigator, but she returned to school to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor of osteopathy.
When she opens her future practice, Lauren plans to focus on holistic medicine, treating the human body as a single, interconnected system to achieve whole-body health.
Lauren chose A&M-Commerce for several reasons. “My mom went to school here, and I wanted to go to a good school that wouldn’t take such a harsh toll on my wallet,” she said. “I also wanted to be close to home. “
As a non-traditional student, Lauren’s life is not all “ponies and rainbows,” as she puts it. She works hard to juggle the responsibilities of home, school and her full-time job, and she is determined to succeed, even if it’s not easy.
Perhaps Lauren is best described as a woman with grit. Possessing a “firmness of mind or spirit,” Lauren is dedicated to her goals, and she is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve them.
When asked how she manages everything, she said, “I think if you want something bad enough, you will always find a way to do it. If you didn’t really want it, you wouldn’t do it. I really have to work, and I have to get good grades. I will not allow myself to make below a B because I want to be a doctor. I will be a doctor.”
She also relies on the support and encouragement of her professional network. “I have built up a base of physicians and people who are excited to see me finish,” she said. “My professional connections are all rooting for me, and I couldn’t do this without them.”
Dr. Gonino, an osteopathic doctor, is one of her inspirations. During her employment in Gonino’s office, she enjoyed establishing connections with patients and helping them improve their overall health. She also admired Dr. Gonino’s holistic health philosophy. “He provides his patients with education and healing above anyone that I have seen,” Lauren said. “I aspire to be the practitioner he is one day.”
Dr. Melina Morrison, an A&M-Commerce alum, is another important professional connection and friend to Lauren. Lauren reaffirmed her passion for healthcare when she worked in Morrison’s dental office.
“Dr. Morrison taught me how to become a better team member and professional during my employment with her,” Lauren said. “I look up to her and the benefits she has provided, not only to her community but the staff within her office.”
As president of the Student Healthcare and Outreach Society (SHOS) at A&M-Commerce, Lauren also helps her peers find entry-level jobs, internships or shadowing opportunities so they can gain experience in their chosen fields and establish their own professional networks.
“I want to connect students with other people who know what they are doing,” Lauren said. “I have friends who are veterinarians; I have friends who are dentists; I have friends who are physicians, and I want to connect students to those professionals.”