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Lauren Blank at her deskThe journey towards a college degree is often filled with unexpected twists and turns. Despite facing what she describes as a challenging beginning, Lauren Blank found her way to USI as a health services major. As she approaches graduation on May 4, she is excited to earn her undergraduate degree, which has deepened her commitment to public health.

In 2019, the Olney, Illinois, native enrolled at Vincennes University after high school to study biology and biomedical science. “I was also working as a phlebotomist at Good Samaritan Hospital during the height of the pandemic,” she says. “While this was a stressful job to have while balancing college, I believe it shaped me. I wanted to help my community after meeting hundreds of patients and hearing and learning about their stories.” Blank says during the first two to three years of college, she knew something was “not quite clicking” with her studies. “At Vincennes, public health classes were not really offered, and it was not even on my radar yet to consider. After transferring to USI, I started to take a few public health classes and fell in love instantly. I realized this is where I was meant to be,” she says.

Public Health Internship

student standing in front of health dept. signIn her final semester, Blank is completing an internship with the Vanderburgh County Health Department (VCHD) where she has been helping track rates of sexually transmitted disease in Vanderburgh County through a condom distribution program. “We are partnering with local businesses and organizations to provide free condoms and educational information to clients to lower rates in the county as well as help in prevention as well,” she says. “Following graduation, I would love to find myself working in a health department around the Evansville area whether that's here at VCHD, or a health department in another county nearby. I also plan to start pursuing my master’s degree in the next year or so to open up more job opportunities in the public health field.”

Faculty Influence

Blank credits the faculty in the Health Services Program for her success thus far. “I have been inspired by a wide range of factors but owe the majority to the public health and health services professors at USI,” she says. “Dr. (Erin) Reynolds, and Dr. (Zack) Ward have given me advice on many things and talked with me through issues I was having in college. I took multiple classes taught by both professors. I have always felt their passion in truly wanting to help their students succeed. I have never felt like I would be turned away or a bother if I wanted to ask them a question or confide in them about any type of issue I might be having.”

Parting Advice

Blank offers some advice to others experiencing a bumpy road in college. “Always check in with yourself about what you are pursuing. If you have any doubts about the subject you are studying, please speak to someone and look at other options,” she says. “If there was one thing I could go back and tell myself, it would have been to switch my major sooner! It is not worth your time or money to pursue something you are not happy and feeling unfulfilled in. Your mental health and happiness and passion for what you do will get you so much further in life. I feel students feel so much shame and embarrassment around changing your major, or feeling like you are letting yourself, family or friends down, but I promise you will not regret finding what you were meant to do instead!”