July 28, 2014
Like many college students, Lauren Burton is spending her warm summer days in the great outdoors. But perhaps unlike many college students, she is sharing that warmth with dozens upon dozens of 7-12 year olds at Camp Chief Ourray in Granby, Colorado.
Burton, an honors student who hails from Hauppauge, N.Y., said she has wanted to make a difference as a camp counselor since she was young.
"I always saw how (counselors) could change kids' lives in such a short amount of time. I think that some of the most influential people are those who work with kids," said Burton, who will begin her sophomore year at B&E this fall. "I get to meet a different group of kids each week, all with different backgrounds. Every night we talk about life. We share ideas. It's been awesome to help some of the kids. At the end of the day, some have told me that a conversation (we had) might have changed something for them, and that's really special."
Serving in this role has helped Burton enhance her problem solving and leadership skills. It takes a great deal of patience and dedication to be a camp counselor, but Burton welcomes challenges and said she was brought up to have a strong work ethic.
For two years she worked at Deantonio's Pizza and Pasta, a family run pizza parlor, where she was promoted three times. Starting as a cashier, then a busboy, then a hostess and finally a waitress, Burton said she gained valuable experiences through each step of the process.
"When I got the job at Deantonio's, I was just so excited to have a job," she said. "I never liked to do anything halfway. So when I have a job, I do everything in my power to do the best job possible."
Working for the family-run shop gave Burton valuable insight into the inner workings of a small business and helped inspire her to pursue finance as her major.
"Working at the pizza place, I saw much of the 'behind the scenes.' I saw the good and the not-so good. I liked watching how the finances worked. And I've always been really good with organizing money and planning," she said.
Burton said that once she's finished teaching archery, riflery, drama, sports and arts to youngsters this summer, she is eager to delve deeper into her B&E coursework.
"Last year, my favorite class was Accounting 201 with Presha Neidermeyer," she said. "It was so insightful, and she is an amazing teacher. I enjoyed our conversations after class, and her door was always open for us. Even though her tests were really hard, I learned so much about the business world. We really went above and beyond the syllabus."
'Above and beyond' is a good way to describe Burton's commitment to excellence.
"I never, ever let being average be okay. That's with anything in my life – school, sports or work. It serves me well because if I don't achieve what I hope to, I always know there is more work that can be done to improve," she said.
In addition to keeping a near perfect GPA in her first year of college, Burton has found ways to become involved and get connected on campus. The first-generation Mountaineer has participated in community service activities and joined both the Entrepreneurship Club and business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi last year.
"I just love meeting other students with similar goals," she said. "In my pledge class (in DSP), I got to be the Vice President of Professionalism. That's the person in charge of bringing professional speakers to speak to the pledges. It was awesome to write professional emails and start to build connections with professors. It was very cool seeing someone I had contacted come speak about their successful life to our group of 30 pledges."
Burton is very pleased with her choice to move to Morgantown for school, and said that WVU and B&E appealed to her for several reasons.
"When I was little, I spent my summers in Colorado. The WVU campus just reminded me of home, which was a really big plus," she said. "When I first met my advisor Joe Seiaman, I got a very good vibe from him and I felt like he was going to be personally accountable for helping me and seeing me through my goals through the Honors College. That was very different from the other schools I applied to. I also received a scholarship, so the finances worked out, too."
So far, Burton's favorite part of being a Mountaineer is the school spirit.
"I love being able to go to a football game and feeling like all those strangers are my best friends and being able to just lock arms with whoever is next to me and sing 'Country Roads.' It feels like a huge family."