Meet fourth-year BSPH student Lauren Hackenberg
Each month, the College of Public Health is shining a spotlight on one of its students. For February, meet Lauren Hackenberg, a fourth-year undergraduate student specializing in public health sociology. After graduating this spring, Hackenberg plans to pursue a career in health care administration before attending graduate school. She hopes to one day contribute to health policy that increases access to affordable, quality health care.
Why did you decide to pursue public health?
I became interested in studying public health when I was 16. After volunteering in hospitals and with underserved women and children and observing my pediatrician dad, I was drawn to the compassionate nature and importance of health care and policy.
Are you involved in any research, academic or student activities?
Yes! I’m a four-year member of Women’s Glee Club, Mount Leadership Society Scholars and Sigma Epsilon Phi. I volunteered for Boys & Girls Clubs, the Wexner Medical Center and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis Center in New York City through Buck-I-SERV.
In my free time, I played club field hockey and attended football games. I also co-founded and was president of Platform Women, a feminist organization aimed at building a community that works for all women and that connects college students to professionals in their desired fields.
Can you tell us about your contact tracing role at Columbus Public Health?
I became a case investigator at Columbus Public Health in July. It’s my job to reach out to community members who have tested positive for COVID-19. We discuss their symptoms, quarantine and isolation protocols, people they have had contact with, and I answer any questions they may have.
Through this experience, I’ve realized that spread of misinformation can only be met with patience and better education. Everyone has their own story that shapes their beliefs. I also witnessed firsthand the rapid evolution of policy and protocol and the importance of adapting in a crisis.
I’m outgoing, so I enjoy talking to people all day, and I’m thankful I’ve had the chance to help Columbus through this time. While I’ve never met most of my coworkers because we’re all working virtually, their dedication to each other and to each individual case is inspiring and makes me even more excited for a career in public health.
What advice would you give incoming students?
My younger brother and my cousin are currently first years at Ohio State, so I’ve given this quite a bit of thought. From the point of view of a senior, I would advise them to enjoy every moment at Ohio State. The good times — and especially the hard times — are opportunities for growth.
For me, the best part of Ohio State is the chance to completely be your true self. At such a big school, there’s no right or wrong way to exist, so enjoy the freedom to be yourself. Seek out people who make you want to be a better friend and harder worker, because those will be the friends you will have for the rest of your life.
Challenge yourself and continue to do things that bring you joy just for fun. Go to football games, concerts and office hours. Get to know your professors! Utilize your advisors. Memorize APA format. Learn to write an effective cover letter.
How do you see your education shaping your future?
I was one of those lucky students who was sure of what I wanted when I entered college. While the degree I’m graduating with remains the same, I realize there are many interesting directions in which my public health degree can take me. I know more about the real world I am entering and how I am personally equipped to improve it.
The classes I’ve taken have transformed how I think about my community and health in general. From social stratification to epidemiology, I have become so passionate about each facet of public health. I am excited and ready to enter the workforce to improve my community.