Lauren Smith
Class of 2018
"No matter what program you study, Cazenovia College opens so many doors for you to succeed."
Deciding what to study in college can be a difficult decision for many graduating high school students. Lauren Smith found her passion for horses at a very young age and left high school with a desire to study them. Through the recommendation of her high school guidance counselor, Smith looked into Cazenovia College's Equine Business Management program.

The opportunity to study the business side of the equestrian field really interested Smith. She scheduled a trip with her family to take a tour of campus and the Equine Education Center. Smith comments, "It felt like home. Everyone was so welcoming and they strived to make us feel comfortable."

During Smith's orientation visit, she met upperclassman in the equine program and on the equestrian team. They became friends on Facebook and stayed in touch. Later in the summer, Smith suffered a back injury from riding that left her worried that she would not be able to study what she loved. Her friendship with the upperclassmen she met during orientation gave Smith the support she needed during the traumatic time.

"I fell off a horse while riding and fractured three vertebrae and had two herniated disks. Coming into Caz, I could not be around the horses or lift anything for the first few weeks," says Smith. "Professor Barb Lindberg helped me to rearrange my schedule and move my equine classes to the spring semester so I could still graduate on time. It was amazing how flexible and willing to help everyone was!"

Smith healed from her injury while taking core courses in her first semester. In the spring, she was ready to volunteer with the Helping Hands program at the barn and try out for the Western team. When she was ready, Professor Stefani Watson helped her to prepare for tryouts.

During the spring semester of her freshman year, Smith recalls feeling like something was missing in her academic journey. She had excelled in a science class with Dr. Thad Yorksand wanted to take more science-related courses. She discussed the opportunity to pick up a minor in biology and started down that path. Smith's love for science provided her the opportunity to fill that missing piece and work towards a dual major in biology and equine business management.

To stay on track to graduate in four years, Smith took courses during the summer and winter breaks, as well as registering for 22 credits some semesters. She shares, "My professors pushed me to follow my passions. I explored the idea of going to veterinary school and even working in politics. So I now have the opportunity to follow different career paths that really interest me."

Smith graduated on May 19, 2018, employed in a position with J.P. Morgan Chase as a financial analyst. She had interviewed for the position confident that Cazenovia College prepared her for this opportunity. Smith says, "No matter what program you study, Cazenovia College opens so many doors for you to succeed."
Smith continues, "You have that individual attention at Caz. Before classes even start, your professors invite you to their office hours to ask questions, mentor you towards your future career path, and provide any help you seek."

Dr. Yorks comments, "Lauren is an excellent example of what perseverance can do and a student who took advantage of everything a small place like Cazenovia College can offer. I do not believe she could have accomplished what she did at a large institution and she has always been appreciative for what we have been able to provide."

Smith's position with J.P. Morgan Chase is the first stepping-stone to a career that could lead her in many directions. Smith shares that she is still interested in going to veterinary school, as well as working in Washington, D.C., in agricultural politics.

Smith is so appreciative of the guidance and support of the Cazenovia College faculty and staff. She comments that prospective students should take advice from alumni, to include, "You are deciding to invest in your future and your well-being. Whatever institution you decide to attend, make sure that you utilize your money as best as you can. Go to class. Join clubs and organizations. Do not slack. Work hard and you will succeed!"

During her four years at Cazenovia College, Smith was involved in the Student Government Association, Equine Ambassadors Club, the nationally ranked equestrian team, Science is Fun night for the community kids, and phonathon. She became involved in the community by joining St. James Catholic Church and volunteering at the Cazenovia Animal Hospital.

Smith concludes, "If you want to make the best investment in yourself, go to Cazenovia College! To make the best investment in your future, take school seriously. This school made me the professional that I am and I could not be more proud to be an alumna!"