2019 in review: What I have been up to

A great word to explain my 2019 is unexpected. Recently, I have seen a lot of my friends do “life updates” on Facebook, and while I could easily just say I got 20 new sisters, got lost in Minneapolis, cooked 12 pounds of taco meat in my room, ate baby food, and achieved my biggest goal of 2019; that would make no sense or begin to explain the year I have had. At the beginning of this year, I set expectations for myself to make this year memorable, and while it has been memorable, it didn’t happen from the reasons I thought it would. Read on to hear about my crazy 2019!


January: Temporary “college drop out”

I can’t say a lot happened this month, which is a good thing when it comes to J-term. Since I finished both of my J-term credits, I took a whole month to myself at home. Because of this, everyone at the gym was starting to wonder if I dropped out of college, and sometimes, it felt like it! When I wasn’t at the gym, I was at Starbucks with my regular nitro cold brew. I used this time to write, read my daily devotional, and do everything not related to school which was a nice change of pace. January was the month that I became a “regular” to the point where they had my order ready before I even got to the counter, even though they spelled my name wrong 75% of the time. As much as it was nice to have a break, I was ready to get back into the swing of things again by the time February rolled around.

February: Tried to be a triangle

During my gymnastics years, I was anti yoga because I thought it was “too boring” since I am used to everything being fast paced. It wasn’t until spring of my junior year that I needed a reason to use my new yoga mat, so I decided to take a class for credit. I was excited because it was a chance to humbly show off my flexibility, and every class was a competition between the instructor and I to see who could bend in half the easiest. I was soon knocked off my pedestal because while gymnastics helped me become Gumby, it prohibited me from doing some poses due to my lingering back pain while everyone else was fully capable of turning into a triangle or warrior 3. I am glad I tried it because there is so much more to yoga than the physical aspect of it. I greatly benefited from the mindfulness aspect, and taking time to slow down, which I never do! My favorite pose I found to be Shavasana, aka, lie on the ground for ten minutes.

March: The suit up search

If the stress of classes weren’t enough, my March also included the stress of finding a summer internship. You know you are getting older when you replace scrolling through Instagram and Twitter stalking former classmates and attractive fellas, for stalking companies and recruiters on LinkedIn and Indeed. The pattern of applying, waiting, suiting up for interviews, and then doing it all over again consumed a ton of my time until I finally landed one at Lifetouch-Shutterfly as a HR Coordinator. I can still remember the day I accepted the position, and yes, I did shed tears of joy as I walked back to my car while it was pouring rain. Internship searching is not fun!

April: Baby food and empowering women

Ate baby food in class! I took a psychology class called Sensation and Perception which is all about learning the senses, and how they are connected to the brain/other senses. This led me to doing some tasks you wouldn’t expect in a college class including spinning in an office chair then standing on one leg to test my vestibular system, putting on fancy goggles to flip my vision upside down then try to catch a tennis ball, eating a piece of Miracle Fruit and being able to drink lemon juice like water (look this up it is wild), and my personal favorite: eating baby food dyed army green and trying to guess what flavor it was while wearing a nose plug. This class taught me so many valuable tidbits about the senses, but one of the biggest takeaways was that I really like pureed pears and carrots.

GWIL Conference! April was the 9th annual Gustavus Women in Leadership Conference titled “Empowerment.” This is a conference where distinguished alumni, successful business women, and Gustavus alumni come back for a day of networking and listening to awesome speakers/ breakout sessions to develop ourselves as business professionals. I had the opportunity to be a liaison for Dr. Rebecca Hawthorne, which led me to being a part of the behind the scenes part of the conference. It was so awesome to meet former Gusties that have built successful lives for themselves, and make connections that ended up helping me this fall. There is no feeling to describe the vibe that day, but being surrounded by so much wisdom and professionalism was exciting and made me grateful to be a part of such a great organization. It was a huge confidence boost seeing women in roles such as supreme court judge, MN Twins executive, and CEOs of well-known companies. Maybe, just maybe, I will come back to speak at the conference someday as a big time executive!

May: Death by chocolate, picnic potlucking, and Psi Chi

Sorority sweet tooth! My sorority has a running joke that we can’t have an event without snacks, so we like to say our second philanthropy behind Sigmas Serve Children, is Sigmas Serve Snacks. During this month, we hosted our annual campus favorite “Death By Chocolate” event which has anything and everything chocolate you can think of. My no-bake cookies made an appearance which was a huge deal (hence why they are in the picture) because my sisters know how terrible I am at making and baking. While the looks of them may have scared people off, they did not taste like the mini cow patties they resembled. My dairy free diet and white sweatshirt didn’t stand a chance at this event. Later in May, we “savored” our last moments with our graduating seniors by having a sorority picnic potluck right in the middle of campus. Sigmas are great at potlucks, and this one didn’t disappoint! Who knew one could have an entire pasta dinner in the middle of the mall?

Psi Chi! As an executive board member of the Psychology Honor Society, I had the pleasure on inducting new members into the society, including some sisters! I also invited my doctor to come speak to campus about the gut-brain connection. It was a weird sense of pride knowing that my doctor was speaking on the topic of all my terrible gut issues which leads to my FND. It is moments like these where my FND can benefit me in the academic world, but that is about it. I have loved being on the executive board and getting to plan events that prove even more my love for psychology.

June: Touching lives at Lifetouch and the Gustavus conversion

I started my internship at Lifetouch in June, and had no clue what I was in for at all. We had the task of recruiting 3000 photographers by the fall, as well as completing a project to present to the Senior VPs at the end of the summer. I met some pretty great people that I enjoyed being with this summer, but I also learned what I like and don’t like about a company. Not to mention, it gave me a great excuse to go shopping for a whole new business casual wardrobe! My co-workers started to see how many days in a row I could go wearing a new outfit before re-wearing something (3 weeks). It is amazing how much you can learn within a short time; including how to make job requisitions, Boolean search, how effective puns are during recruiting emails, people in Hawaii are really pleasant to talk to on conference calls, what not to do in HR, work life balance, the importance of coffee, and 494 traffic is terrible at any time of the day.

Gustavus conversion: This had to be the only time I have ever really wanted to go to a Twins game, and took initiative to get the family to go. It was Gustavus night at Target Field, and I had the honor of turning a Minnesota Gopher, Kentucky Wildcat, and most importantly, a St. Olaf Ole into a Gustie for the night. In all honesty, I just went for the hat.

July: 21 and old guys in skinny jeans

I celebrated turning 21 with my family at Maynard’s on lake Minnetonka. The waiter looked genuinely confused as my Dad and brother ordered a beer to celebrate, while I ordered a water wearing a giant 21 badge on my shirt. I am ok with being possibly the most lame 21 year old because now I can at least sit in the bar, even though I still get asked if I want a kids menu. 21 wasn’t a milestone for me because it’s the age I can legally drink a delicacy that tastes like cough medicine, but more because 21 is a threshold to bigger life changes such as graduating, getting a job, etc. My big celebration was going to the Backstreet Boys concert, because nothing says 21 like being surrounded by middle aged women while singing along to songs by old guys wearing skinny jeans accompanied by too many hip thrusts. My guilt pleasure is “I Want it That Way,” and for my 21st, that’s the way I wanted it.

August: Freshmen Orientation

My internship ended in late July, which gave me a whole month to spend time with my family until I had to move back in early for freshman orientation…again. I was selected to be a part of the Peer Mentor Academic Leader Teacher (MALT) pilot program which consisted of teaching 17 freshmen students once a week about tips to navigate college, resources to use, goal setting, how to register, and just be a student mentor to them. I moved back early to meet my 17 pupils, and be trained in on how to teach my own class. Despite all the training I had on how to teach advising curriculum, I soon learned that they liked my embarrassing college moment stories more than learning about SMART goals. I am so happy I got this opportunity because I have become friends with my students and have been so happy to see how much they’ve grown since I first met them. It feels great to use my knowledge and leadership skills to help them out, and see that it has actually impacted them. I never thought I would be moving back for freshmen orientation as a senior, but I am so glad I did, because I got to experience all the great memories I loved as a freshmen all over again- but this time my dorm had AC!

September: 20 new sisters, GAC PAC, and public Proclaiming

Recruitment and Bid Day! Recruitment season is my favorite season, and I am so happy to have recruited 20 new sisters that I have grown to love so well! As someone interested in HR, I like to see what recruitment strategies work the best, and I learned that the snacks in the room were a big hit. #SigmasServeSnacks became a trending theme for the week for the potential new members. It’s also a great time for us because we goof around and be ourselves, but at the same time naturally attract those who have the same energy as us. I loved meeting all potential new members and helping them find their sorority home. A highlight was dancing the Git Up with all my sisters as all the potential new members either joined in, or looked at us like we were insane. Recruitment season ended with a sweaty Bid Day as we marched around all of campus to deliver 20 bids which entailed 20+ girls crowding around the door and chanting loudly in pledge’s faces while handing them a giant daisy and bid! Nothing says sisterhood like too many stairs and Sigma chants.

Homecoming! The year of the lasts started with my last homecoming. My freshmen year section (The GAC PAC) had a reunion and took the same picture we took freshmen and sophomore year to make things come full circle. It was fun spending time with my sisters, friends, and seeing all my friends that graduated the year before! Crazy to think that’s going to be me next year.

Shared my faith journey: I finally had the courage from to share my faith story at our student led worship called Proclaim. I spoke on “Blessings in Disguise” which touched on how my FND, and all the obstacles I encountered my first three years were actually blessings by making me into the resilient leader I am now. I had wanted to speak since freshman year, and finally felt called to share my story with others that ended up touching people in ways I never thought it would. While I am perfectly fine flipping on a four inch beam in front of hundreds of people, public speaking is one of my biggest fears that I conquered this month!

October: Getting lost resulted in getting a job

This fall, I was the HR intern to the VP of Mission, Strategy, and Innovation on campus, and it was an experience of a lifetime – literally – as this experience landed me a full time job after graduation. My internship started out in the HR office doing various clerical work tasks, and projects. It ended with me traveling around the cities networking with business professionals ranging from recently graduated, to VPs. It also ranged from people I had never met before, to my dad and brother! I went to 15 different places and interviewed 15 people. It was so cool seeing the way these companies functioned and what perks they had to set them apart from others. Some honorable mentions were being able to bring your dog to work, a cereal + milk bar in the lobby (this was at Post, anywhere else it would be odd), and a full size basketball court at Cantel. Talk about real life internship experience, I would never have learned and seen that much sitting at a desk all day.

I learned a lot through this project, but one of the most important things I learned is that I am terrible at navigating cities and skyways. I managed to park in the wrong ramp, and get lost in the skyways every single time in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Abbott Northwestern Hospital . The first time I went to Boom Lab-Three Bridge in Minneapolis, I ended up at Sculpt Fitness from going to the wrong elevator tower before finding my way to the office. Business professional isn’t quite the right attire to work out in which led to some stares. Troubleshooting while acting like I know what I am doing has become a skill of mine, as well as walking five blocks in heels from thinking I parked in the right $36 ramp. This project took me to places such as Ecolab, Minneapolis Heart Institute, Optum, Lifetime Fitness, UHC, Quality Bicycle Products, Cantel Medical, Post Consumer Brands, and my final destination after graduation: Boom Lab! I am so grateful for the times I got locked out of the parking ramp twice, walked the wrong direction in the skyway for 10 minutes, almost got ran over by a car in St. Paul, and took the wrong elevator; because without them, I would be job searching right now and would not have fulfilled my goal to land a job by the end of 2019!

November: HIIT, taco meat, getting low, and giving thanks

HIIT instructor: This fall I was asked to lead a High Intensity Interval Training exercise class on campus which I never in a million years would have thought I would be an instructor. I have had so much fun making my peers complain, swear, pant, sweat, and drop and give me 20 like they never had before! My current reviews are “sore for a week”, “my face was red for an hour after”, and “I don’t think I can do this again.”

Taco Tuesday Potluck: As Sisterhood chair of my sorority, I thought it would be fun to have a Taco Tuesday night. I volunteered to be in charge of the taco meat, which in reality, left my mom in charge of it as she cooked 12 pounds of it then drove it to campus in a crock pot. It was quite the success, as all 12 pounds were gone. Like I said before, Sigmas can eat!

Formal: November was sorority formal season! It was fun getting dressed up and having a handsome date to dance the night away with along with my sisters all around me. You bet I did the splits in the middle of the dance circle for “Get Low!”

Thanksgiving: This Thanksgiving was quite a milestone for me, as I finally made it to the adult table! My dairy free lifestyle went out the window for the night as there was a pumpkin shaped appetizer cheese ball, and artichoke dip that were bigger than my willpower. And pie without whipped cream? That’s a crime, and I didn’t want to break the laws of Thanksgiving. We shared so many stories, laughs, and weird conversations such as the business model of Cheez-its, what it would be like to hit a cow with your car, double stretch jeans, airplane food, and how to perform a hip replacement. Casey holidays are ones I will never forget!

December: Final fall semester, and Casey Christmas Festivities

Fall semester complete! It is weird to think I finished my last fall semester. The end of the semester called for a snowy photoshoot with my sorority sisters to document that we made it, and to say goodbye to my sisters in my pledge class graduating this December. I finished my minor in strategic communication, and my internship, leaving me with my one 300 level psychology class left to take in the spring. My only final for my communications class was making a board game related to a topic in class, so yes, my last final in college was sitting on the floor playing board games while listening to Christmas music. If anyone is interested in playing the Net Neutrality version of Chutes and Ladders just let me know, it’s quite a thrill.

Casey Clan Christmas: For my family, Christmas really happens all month between the shopping trips, putting up the fake tree, making cookies, Christopher’s Christmas party that I happily crash as the “little sister,” and Casey Christmas with the famous yankee swap where the magic head scratcher has been getting re-gifted for years. But it doesn’t end there, we just pack it up and take it 13 hours in a car to Danville, Kentucky in order to celebrate with the other side of the family that we see once a year, and keep those traditions rolling (read more in my Holiday Traditions post). It is a great way to end the year, minus the 13 hour drive back home as the snow gradually piles back up again, the outside temp declines, and the passive aggressiveness of Minnesota nice increases.


This year truly was unpredictable in the sense that I imagined it going a lot differently than where it took me. While there are a few tidbits I left out, such as accidentally wearing my running shorts inside out around campus with the built in underwear on the outside for hours, adopting two more Littles in sorority, a first date coincidentally on Hymns and Beer night (only in St. Peter lemme tell ya), my best friend Anna getting engaged, mapping my brain with a patriotic looking swim cap device, and passing a kidney stone (like I said, didn’t go how I thought); everything came together to make 2019 memorable that’s for sure. I can only hope that 2020 is full of moments that are nothing but great; where I put my clothes on correctly, finally find an answer to fix FND, live the day Anna and I have talked about since we were kids, dates without hymns, and refrain from passing more stones through my kidneys! 2020 is the year of family, cherishing my time with friends, and finding my new path.

Happy new year! I hope your new years resolutions last longer than one week!

~Lauren

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