Known for her innate drive to succeed, Lauren Jaqua excelled in the classroom, on a cross country course and on the track. For four years at Baker University, she developed a reputation as a hard worker preparing to compete at the highest level for the Wildcats and to become a high school English teacher.
"Distance running is an extremely mentally taxing event, but the rewards are overwhelming," she explained. "I have been blessed with amazing teammates who also share the drive to experience pain and push past that pain to victory. Throughout my four years, I never let myself go to sleep at night regretting not pushing myself harder at practice or not giving it my all at meets. I enjoy putting the dedication, sweat and time into becoming a successful distance runner."
Conference Champ & NAIA All-American
Jaqua emerged as a leader for the Wildcats' resurgent track and cross country programs. The victories at the Heart of America Athletic Conference meets and exultant feeling after a tough workout are memories she will cherish forever. And she created several memorable moments, becoming an All-American in the 3,000-meter run at the indoor track and field nationals in 2013, setting multiple school records and winning three consecutive individual HAAC cross country titles.
From the moment of her initial visit to the Baldwin City campus, Jaqua embraced the Baker experience. She created lasting relationships with her friends and professors, walking through campus on rainy days, attending cross country practice at 3:35 p.m. every day, serving as a parMentor, staying until close in the cafeteria laughing with her teammates. The English department opened her eyes to new topics and challenged her with rigor and high expectations.
The inspiration she found in Baker's classrooms and coming from a family of educators sparked Jaqua's interest in majoring in secondary English.
"I think English is so important because people will always need to know how to write well and communicate effectively," she said. "Also, the stories told through books and older literary classics teach life lessons and convey strong emotion on a deeper level than what a social media site can provide."
Her potential as a teacher was noted by the Kansas State Department of Education in February 2014 when she was honored as a Teacher of Promise. The award salutes aspiring educators to recognize, recruit and retain the best Kansas teachers for Kansas children.
"Being honored as a Teacher of Promise means so much to me, and I owe it all to my incredible education professors at Baker for preparing me so well," Jaqua said. "I was overjoyed at being selected and knew that I had an amazing opportunity to impact future generations of kids."
From Student to Student Teacher
Jaqua spent most of her senior year student teaching English at Gardner Edgerton High School, 15 miles from the Baldwin City campus. At the beginning, she was nervous about co-teaching and trying to fit in the shoes of an experienced, veteran teacher. However, once she took command of the classroom and taught her own lessons, all of the anxiety faded away and she began developing her personal style of teaching.
"Transitioning from a college student on campus every day, to a full-time student teacher allowed me to immerse myself in the profession and truly come into my own," she said. "Through my student teaching experience, I have been reassured that teaching is the profession for me, and I cannot wait to impact and teach my future students."
After securing her diploma in May, Jaqua is ready to embark on a career in education. She wants to be known as a caring, respected and knowledgeable educator — someone who can serve as a mentor to young students.
"I want to be a teacher who challenges her students to be the best they can be and teach them to be problem solvers, critical thinkers and positive contributors to the world around them," she said. "I will challenge myself to meet the needs of all my students and I hope to learn everyday right alongside them. I have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy representing Baker University as an educator, and help prepare my students for their futures; whether that be the work field, college or beyond."