Lauren Stutler dreams of traveling the world as a business management consultant. And although her plans have changed during her time at Valpo, she knows the people she’s met and the opportunities she’s had here have prepared her to make her dream a reality.
Stutler originally planned to become a high school Spanish teacher, but she quickly realized that the classroom was not the place for her.
She loves Spanish, but when required to do an observation of a high school classroom for one of her education courses, Stutler felt disconnected.
So she did some soul-searching, spoke with friends and family about her strengths and passions, and thought about her plans for the future.
Stutler knew she enjoyed traveling and working with people. So when she met an international business major on campus who told her about classes like international finance and international marketing, her interest was piqued.
Stutler decided to enroll in Valparaiso University’s College of Business and instantly felt comfortable. She knew she was on the right track toward a meaningful career.
In particular, she said, her professors were engaged mentors to her, and the guidance she was given was honest, clear, and life-changing. She credits John Ward, lecturer in management, with helping her see how finding a rewarding career is a part of developing as a person.
“Lauren is an outstanding student who has always excelled in the classroom here at Valpo,” Ward said. “Lauren has developed many skills that will be key as she leaves the University to pursue a career.”
In Ward’s classes, he said, he makes a special effort to help students like Stutler find a major that will suit their individual goals and passions.
“Students need to fully understand their strengths and weaknesses in addition to really understanding who they are,” Ward said. “Today there are many tools and tests that are available that greatly assist with identifying strengths, weaknesses, and personality traits.”
In Stutler’s case, since she’d already taken some Spanish classes, she realized that it wouldn’t take much more coursework to double major in Spanish. And because of Valpo’s stellar inter-disciplinary curriculum, Stutler learned a third major in marketing would only require six additional classes.
“I was already on track to graduate early,” Stutler said. “I thought, ‘Why don’t I just stay and get this third major. I’ll get to hang out with my friends and grow and learn even more.’”
Then Stutler had an opportunity to gain experience with all three majors while fulfilling the Study Abroad requirement for her international business major in Mexico.
“I received a completely different perspective from the professors in Mexico,” Stutler said. “We learned how to export a product. We had to design a product and develop a marketing plan and a distribution chain.
“I didn’t really know myself until I studied abroad and had that experience. I just learned so much.”
Finally, last summer Stutler’s experiences at Valpo led to an opportunity to take part in two marketing internships — one at Vanderbilt University and one at a Nashville startup.
“Working for those companies, I learned as much I would learn in a year of school,” Stutler said. “It really helped grow me as a professional and helped me make connections.”
Now as Stutler plans to graduate, she believes she’s truly found her vocation. She couldn’t have done so, she said, if not for the caring mentors, innovative curriculum, and endless opportunities at Valpo.
“I’ve found something that I really like to do and something that is good for me,” Stutler said. “It sounds like a lot, but I’ve just really pushed myself to succeed.”