Student Spotlight: Lauren Schmidt
When Lauren Schmidt was 6 years old, she discovered that she loved drawing and watching movies.
“Art has always been a part of my life in one way or another,” she said. “In the summer of 1999, I signed up for a claymation course through the youth arts program at College of DuPage. The class was life-changing as I found my true passion in my own art practice. In 2001, one of my short animated films was featured on the HBO Family Channel series ‘30 x 30 KidFlicks.’ ”
Schmidt returned to COD in 2005, this time as a college student, and earned her Associate in Arts degree.
“Growing up in Glen Ellyn and attending Glenbard West High School, it was a way to transition to the rigors of college while saving a great deal of money, fulfilling the general education requirements that comprise the first two years of bachelor’s degree programs, and still living at home so that I could focus on my studies. Plus, I always knew COD had a great reputation as one of the best community colleges in the nation.
“COD also helped me gain independence and intrinsic motivation in my college career. Since I was completely responsible for taking initiative in my own education, going to COD helped me mature into a more well-rounded and self-motivated individual.”
After graduating in 2007, Schmidt transferred to Dominican University to study fashion design. However, after one semester, she realized she didn't want a career in the fashion world. So she transferred again to Northern Illinois University, where she earned her bachelor's in Art Education.
Schmidt initially worked as a high school substitute teacher and long-term substitute art teacher as well as a summer camp counselor and arts leader for the two years after graduation. In 2012, she was accepted into the MFA program at NIU, where she practiced sculpture and animation and taught 2D Design in the NIU Foundations program, where ironically she was a student five years earlier.
Having earned her MFA, she has taught art at Roselle Middle School and York High School. During the summer of 2016, she was the lead art instructor at Magical Minds Studio in Oak Park and she currently is an adjunct professor at Joliet Junior College.
“My bachelor’s degree prepared me for teaching K-12 but since I entered the collegiate Foundations program, I know that I am meant to teach college-level art courses,” she said. “I also am interested in my studio practice of stop-motion animation, so I aspire to show my work to the public, whether in art galleries or film festivals. I am now including animation in my master’s thesis, so you just never know how something you learn at a young age might influence the course of your life!”
Her advice to students at College of DuPage is to remember that you get what you put into your own education.
“You alone are responsible for yourself; no one else is,” she said. “Professors expect a much greater level of responsibility than in high school, so be prepared and take your education seriously. Take advantages of as many opportunities as you can, as COD has a great array of things to offer. Also, be sure to keep an open mind about things, as I have changed courses a few times but now feel I am in a good place.”
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