Current Featured Student

Lauren Burke    


     When I started at University at Albany, I already had many college years under my belt, seven to be exact. Unbeknownst to me and my past teenage self, I took the longer, harder road to academic success. I began the “typical” journey an 18 year old embarks on and went to college as I “was supposed to”; the only trouble, my heart was not in it. So, I took an alternative route and jumped full-time into the work force while taking a night class here and there. Through my mid-twenties I started taking course work more seriously, and while working full-time slowly added more and more classes to my night-time schedule. The best part to this, I actually began excelling academically and received invitation to join Phi Theta Kappa—International Honor Society, which I accepted. I was astonished at my accomplishments and finally completed an Associate Degree from Hudson Valley in December 2012.

      After realizing I had more potential than I gave myself credit, I decided to quit my professional job, become a waitress, and enroll in college full-time. Though this transition was overwhelming and stressful, it was manageable and has proved to be rewarding. When I enrolled at University at Albany in August 2013 I knew only two things: 1) I wanted to major in English and 2) I wanted to have my B.A. completed before my 30th birthday.

      After my first two semesters I found out about the B.A./M.A. program, which only made sense to apply for. There are many perks about this program but specifically it allows students to complete their M.A. in just two semesters after completion of B.A., and, during undergrad coursework, students can take up to three graduate courses that count dually. For me, this was a win/win situation for two main reasons: 1) I am undecided exactly what career I will seek after graduation so the extra time has been helpful, and 2) I will have surpassed my personal goal and will not only have a B.A. before my 30th birthday, but a M.A.!

      With the help and encouragement of the English department faculty and staff, the transition into the dual program was seamless. For a few weeks I was in the advisement office numerous times with different questions but always left with answers and feeling more secure about my decision. Adding graduate courses into my undergrad workload did step things up a bit, but was worth the advantages. With my expected graduation May 2016, I am closing in on my time at University at Albany, but am thankful for the decisions I made while here. The opportunities at SUNY Albany are endless, so my words of wisdom would be to take advantage of them. At the end of the day, it is all about personal goals and accomplishments so strive for one step higher—that’s what I did and couldn’t be happier.

      I do have to say I have one regret: I was unable to participate in most extracurricular activities offered within, and outside of, the English department. Because of the path I chose when I was younger, most of my time not in class or focusing on schoolwork is spent working trying to maintain the life I created before I dove into college full-time. But every downside has a plus side because I have learned what hard work is all about and have proved to myself that not only can I juggle work and school, but I can do it well with continued academic success.