Lauren Baker ‘19

–By Christy Wolff ’10 

Choosing a college came easy for Lauren Baker ‘19 after an impactful experience during a visit weekend. “I remember hanging out with my host student and her friends, eating cookies and drinking smoothies at the BBC, and being struck by how normal it was for them to talk about God. I wanted to be a part of that type of community that welcomed that,” Baker said. 

Fast forward to today. Working as a travel nurse, Baker intentionally strives to bring that community with her wherever she goes. 

As a nursing student, Baker desired to balance her coursework with life outside the classroom. “I wanted to see all of Trinity’s little corners, especially being part of a department that can take up a lot of your time if you let it. I chose to experience a lot–singing in choir and ensembles, working with the athletic department, to name a few–and that’s what I got out of it.” 

Originally from Whitinsville, Mass., Baker grew up hearing about Trinity from her parents, Darrell and Laurie, who graduated from the College in 1993. She valued the proximity to extended family and the accessibility to Midway Airport so she could easily fly home for the holidays. “I used to host prospective students when I was at Trinity and I would tell them that they have four years to live anywhere they want and highlighted how close everything was to campus,” Baker shared. 

During Baker’s junior year, she became a Resident Assistant (RA). “I’ve always been wired for leadership–not the loud, stand-on-a-stage kind, but more through mentorship, running small groups, and creating relationships through activities and conversation with women younger than me.” After having a positive experience with her own RA as a freshman, Baker was inspired to fill this role. 

One of the benefits of holding the RA position is forming a relationship with the dorm’s Resident Director (RD). Weekly meetings to discuss ways for Baker to mentor younger women grew into a season of being mentored herself. “I went into this role expecting to mentor others, but both years I was blown away by the way I was mentored, which allowed me to lead better. This was all very unexpected for me, and I still hang onto their advice to this day,” Baker shared. “Having adults who could see all the good in me when I felt insecure and unsure of the future created a balance of gaining self-confidence and self-discipline at the same time. I try to carry that balance of confidence and humility with a growth mindset into each new season of my life.” 

Baker invested much of her time and energy into her nursing classes, so forming these relationships helped pull her out of the “nursing bubble,” as she puts it. “When I was near tears thinking I was going to fail nursing school, I received a lot of encouragement from the adult mentors I had on campus.” She points out that Trinity staff and faculty are in their positions because they are passionate about reaching college-aged students. “You may not realize how much these staff members care until you’re part of a relationship with one of them; they dedicate their lives to this.” 

Not only did Baker complete the nursing program, but she was able to land a job shortly after graduating. During her interviews, Baker often talked about her Trinity experience as much as she talked about her nursing knowledge. “Hiring managers can see I’m a good nurse on paper, but they want to hear something that makes me stand out.” 

After spending 18 months at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Mich., Baker wanted something new so she became a travel nurse. “This was a difficult transition because I was stepping into situations where the hospital might be short-staffed. That’s why they were hiring temporary nurses like myself.” 

Changing positions every three months can also be a challenge. “I’m constantly the new guy, figuring out what’s next, applying for a new position every few months, and changing my license over to a new state,” Baker described. “It’s both a great adventure to learn and grow and also sometimes lonely and hard moving every three months. It’s all very humbling, and I felt prepared for all of these different experiences through my education in the nursing program at Trinity.” 

She goes on to say, “As a travel nurse, I feel like a tiny bandage on a giant gash that is the world of nursing shortages right now, yet I can only control what is mine to control, which starts by walking in with a positive attitude. Coworkers at these placements pick up on the positivity, and therefore often summon more energy to give to their own patients. They ask for my perspective based on my varied experiences. Meanwhile, I am learning from them too, and my gratitude for the opportunity to make a living by traveling around the country and growing as a nurse overflows in my work.” 

Currently working at a Mayo Clinic-owned hospital in Minnesota, Baker craves community and often finds that in church settings wherever she’s currently working. “At my first placement in Washington, I ran into a Trinity alum at church and she invited me to sit with her, which went a long way.” 

One way Baker is showing her appreciation for Trinity is through her membership in the Trinity Alumni Nursing Association (TANA). This cohort of alumni nurses regularly network with one another, which helped Baker find her first job after college. She is also a member of the alumni board representing the nursing alumni base as a whole, including her role with TANA. 

Baker also reflects on how she grew spiritually during her four years at Trinity. “I feel like I was able to make my faith my own in communal and relational settings at Trinity. I learned to set my eyes where it mattered even when the demands of academics and leadership were louder.” 

Her investment into the Trinity community didn’t stop when she graduated. “I went from being a consumer by just attending classes or events to becoming an investor by being a part of campus life. I walked away wanting to continue supporting Trinity and I am genuinely invested in where Trinity’s going.”