Giving Back and Staying Connected
A positive experience with the Kalamazoo College Admission Office turned Lauren Torres ’10 from a reluctant applicant and campus visitor to an enthusiastic committed K student, and she has been paying it back ever since.
Torres started volunteering with Admission as a first-year at K—motivated both by perks like gift cards and by a desire to give back—and continued throughout college.
A chemistry major, Torres took full advantage of the K-Plan, studying abroad in Quito, Ecuador, playing lacrosse, cheerleading, participating in theatre and Frelon Dance Company, teaching English in Japan for a summer, and working as a chemistry tutor, a resident assistant and at the Navajo Nation in Arizona.
She continued volunteering after graduation.
“K gave me a lot,” Torres said. “I could donate my time even while I was paying back my student loans. While money is nice, the time keeps you connected.”
Torres has participated in Visit the Zoo programs for admitted students, spoken on panels, lunched with prospective students and families and written many notes to admitted students. She keeps the chemistry department informed of any internship opportunities at Bell’s Brewery, where she is the brewery manager. She also currently serves on the Alumni Association Engagement Board.
“I’m very grateful for my ability to think and question and problem solve and that was very much nurtured at K,” Torres said. “K made me open minded, motivated to fight for what’s right in society, more empathetic to other experiences and an advocate to make the world a better place.”
Torres met her husband her first year at K, when they lived next door in Severn, and they have been together ever since. “K increased our awareness of political and socio-economic issues,” Torres said. “Even today, we’ll say, we’re having a real K conversation right now.”
Volunteering with Admission gives Torres a reason to visit campus and a chance to have conversations with prospective parents and students and share stories. One of her favorite stories to share involves a calculus class.
“I had studied really hard for this take-home exam, and I just knew I’d failed it. I went to my professor’s office and he wasn’t there, so I left him this sobbing voicemail.”
The professor called her in and told her she could retake the test and he would average the two grades.
“It turned out I had legitimately failed it the first time, but I aced it the second time, so I was okay,” Torres said. “It really saved me and that was an opportunity that may not have presented itself at a big university.”
Meeting other alumni is another perk of volunteering, along with many other benefits.
“It’s nice to hear what other people loved about K, which is usually interesting and different from your experiences,” Torres said. “For many of us, our college experience was shaped by volunteers in ways we didn’t even know. Volunteering contributes to our community. It brings back memories and gives you an opportunity to reflect on how far you’ve come in different areas of your life.”
To learn more about alumni events and opportunities to stay connected with other alumni and with the College, visit the Office of Alumni Engagement’s website.