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By Erica Rath
When Division II conferences were asked to nominate honorees for the division’s 40th Anniversary Tribute Team, it’s no wonder the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletic Conference came up with Lauren Brown.
She exemplified the “Life in the Balance” that is so essential to the DII experience, making the most of her opportunities at Winona State by excelling both in the classroom and on the playing field.
The 2010 graduate was a two-sport standout and recorded a 4.0 GPA while majoring in cell and molecular biology and pre-med. She is currently a medical student at Wisconsin, working in obstetrics and gynecology.
Brown was a four-time all-NSIC academic selection and was honored nationally for her academic success as a track athlete in 2009 and a volleyball player in 2008 and 2009. She also was named the 2010 NSIC Willis R. Kelly Scholar-Athlete award winner. Her athletics accomplishments were equally impressive, winning the NSIC title in the javelin in 2009 and placing 13th nationally in the event that year.
Active in the community as well, Brown was the president of the Winona State Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In 2009, she was named the Winona State Student-Athlete of the Year while volunteering in many area youth and community outreach programs.
When Brown was preparing for her college experience, she assumed she’d have to pick between volleyball and track in order to make things work. After her freshman year at Winona State, though, she realized that with the help of her school and the support of her coaches, she could participate in both.
“I thought I could contribute to both teams,” she said. “And each team had their own experience that I enjoyed.”
The “Life in the Balance” included a heavy course load. Brown recalls sitting in ice baths after practice reading her biochemistry book and having her teammates quiz her on the subject matter.
“I came into college with high goals of contributing to the team,” Brown said. “But I also knew I wanted to get an education with the medical profession. I knew coming into it I had to work hard to stay on top of things.”
From a young age, Brown remembers being intrigued by science and questioning everything. That sense of wonder was something she wanted in a career as well.
“I always had a lot of questions and I always like doing school projects and science fairs,” Brown said. “I have a mind that likes to explore, I’m very curious. As I developed that through high school and doing different community-service projects, I realized that the medical profession allows you to interact with people and give something back. Medicine is a nice fusion of outreach and science.”
Brown is currently in her third year of medical school at Wisconsin. When she graduates in spring 2015, she will pursue a career in obstetrics and gynecology or in a family practice. Surviving and succeeding in the medical field is a direct result of being a student-athlete, Brown said.
“You have a goal in mind; you are working together with your teammates, doing the best with the task at hand with the different members of a medical team,” Brown said. “The communication, the drive, the determination, the teamwork involved, the leadership – all of that overlaps with my experiences as a student-athlete.”
Brown credits Winona State with the success she’s already achieved on her path to becoming a doctor. As she moves on with her career, she looks back fondly on the time she had as a student-athlete.
“I’m lucky that I still have time to be active. I play volleyball once and a while and going for a run, but I miss getting out there with my teammates,” Brown said. “That sense of team, the high energy and the level of play during a pick-up game isn’t the same as it was in college. Being a student-athlete definitely shaped who I am.”