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How extracurricular learning helped shape the future

DANBURY, CONN. — Senior Lauren Kerton wasn’t sure what she would study when she enrolled at Western Connecticut State University.

She wasn’t even sure she would attend at all.

But she did, and she succeeded. Not only will she graduate with a bachelor’s in History in May, she has been recognized with two awards as a future college administrator, which she earned for her work with the WCSU Office of AccessAbility Services.

Kerton now holds a confident view of her future.

That’s what a college career should do for students, Kerton says, although it took her awhile to understand that fact.

“You have to live it to learn it,” she says.

Kerton, of Brookfield, first came to the university’s campus as a student in Western Connection, an extended high school program that helps students transition either to jobs or higher education. She was dealing with social anxiety. After weighing her options, she decided to enroll.

“I started as a writing major and I still practice writing, Kerton says. “But I was struggling. I also thought about teaching. My brother is a teacher and I greatly admire him, but I realized it wasn’t for me.”

Kerton had also signed up as a student worker with Elisabeth Morel, the director of AccessAbility Services, which provides support to students with learning or physical disabilities.

“Elisabeth is my mentor,” Kerton says. She works to co-administer alternative formats, which provides students access to course material in a variety of accessible formats. She also equips students on various technology to enhance their educational experiences through the use of smartpen and reading software.

Kerton switched her major to History, which helped her learn research and honed her writing skills, but she wasn’t sure about a career path.

“Elisabeth suggested college administration,” Kerton recalls. “I said, ‘I can’t do that. It’s too hard.’ Elisabeth said, ‘But wait, you are doing it.’ Kerton smiles at the memory. “I said, ‘You’re right. I am!’”

Kerton’s work qualified her for consideration for an award from the National Association of School Personnel Administrators, the professional organization for student affairs administrators. Nominated students were required to make a significant contribution to their institution through service to others, demonstrate outstanding leadership skills and also help to make the campus culture a positive experience.

Kerton won the award for Connecticut and also for NASPA’s Region 1. She will be up for the national award in March.

She is in the process of applying for graduate school in higher education, with plans to continue her work in programs like AccessAbility Services.

Kerton traces her transformation to her university experience.

“When started here I went to class and went straight home. But then I got involved in some clubs. I went from being shy to going to events, running events and public speaking. It helped me gain confidence.”

In addition to working with students, she also gently guides their parents.

“They have been advocating so much for their children all their lives. They have to learn to step back once their child is in college. I help them handle that.”

Kerton adds, “I love helping people and I’ve been very successful here. I want to help other students be successful and help them gain confidence. Helping someone else to find their own way. It’s really great!”



Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.