My daughter is nine years old and tells everyone that her mother is a scientist.

I work at a research laboratory as a histotechnician. Our lab is currently pursuing cures for glaucoma, cancer, radiation, and diabetes. Each day I take specimen samples and create slides to be examined, looking for changes in the specimens from the sample pharmaceuticals.

Our research facility is looking for treatments, cures, and ways to stop and prevent disease. We help others in the world as a “thread in the huge tapestry” we weave. Our work must be perfect. It is an art form where fatigue impacts my performance. There is no room for error; one error could destroy an entire project and cost millions of dollars.

My journey in life did not start with a dream to become a histotechnician. Becoming a neurologist was my original goal.  Along this journey, my goals changed as I Iived in multiple states and my parents were involved in a split. After high school, I struggled to find direction. I became homeless and lived out of my car. Friends would sometimes let me shower or crash on their floor. One friend invited me to join the adult entertainment industry. I almost did. Then another adult shared their faith in me and let me know I was better than that. I am so glad this person intervened in my life.

I joined the Army, became a medic, and served 13 months in Iraq. My daughter was three months old at the time I deployed. I met my husband after my deployment. I completed my enlistment and was honorably discharged. My husband received orders that moved us to the Pierce County area. A year later, I had my second child.

I was not sure what to do with my medic training. After several people encouraged me to become a nurse, I attended an information session at CPTC and checked into other programs, including histology. When I walked in and observed all the photographs of various cell formations, I knew this is what I wanted to study. Faculty member, Bekki Haggerty, told us there was a one-year waiting list I called Bekki every week to see where I was on the list. When the final day to add or drop came, there was one slot open and I was accepted.

Life was good. I was married, had two children, and was enrolled in college pursuing an exciting career. Then my world came crashing in on me again. My marriage was not going well. I realized I needed a way to support myself and my two girls. I had to move out of our home and into an apartment. I kept attending classes, knowing how important my training was now. I had full responsibility to provide all the income necessary for us to live, but I could not pay my rent and utilities. Through an emergency grant provided by the CPTC Foundation, I was able to keep my electricity turned on during this hard time.   Ms. Haggerty kept pushing and encouraging me. She saw something in me.

In 2012, I completed my coursework, passed all my exams, and graduated with my degree– an AS in Histology. My husband was arrested and eventually sent to prison. I had been hired where I had completed my internship. However, I could no longer work the second shift since I did not have childcare in the evenings. Knowing I had to find a new job, I went where I knew I would find help–back to the college and my instructor, Bekki Haggerty. Ms. Haggerty helped me find other labs that had openings with higher pay and a work schedule that allowed me to properly care for my girls.

I have learned that success is dependent upon me. In my lab, we work as a team. My individual work will stand out as my team stands out. I like my coworkers. It is just me, my two girls, and my career. This program provided me a fresh start.

Now it is my turn to give back. I want to help others find what I found. I stop by the class and provide encouragement to new students. My company has equipment they no longer use, and they allow me to bring this equipment to the College through the Foundation. I am now beginning a monthly giving program to help fund a scholarship for other students. I am totally self-sufficient and no longer require assistance from the various programs for low-income individuals.

Note: Faculty member Bekki Haggerty indicates Lauren is one of 90 graduates from the Histology program since the program began nine years ago. The CPTC Histology program is one of only two such programs west of the Mississippi. There is a significant list of employment opportunities for our students to choose from, Ms. Haggerty indicates. These students are in high demand; employers know the quality of histotechnicians this program produces at CPTC.

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