Lauren Moreno ~ Hands On and Book Smart
Lauren Moreno grew up in a household with nothing but females. There was her mother and two older sisters, Erin and Alex. Lauren discovered early-on that she liked to work with her hands. This was welcomed by Erin and Alex, who were happy to pass off the “hands on” chores to her. Lauren mowed the lawn, pulled the weeds, and unclogged the drains. And when her mom’s 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan would break down (as it often did), Lauren would help her Uncle Mario get it running again. This started when Lauren was only 5 years-old. It’s where the seed was planted for Lauren’s ultimate career choice.
“I like to find out how things work, and I love cars,” said Lauren. She would assist Uncle Mario with oil changes and worn belts, learning all she could about cars, and loving every minute of it.
When Lauren was 7 she attended a summer camp that volunteered for Feed My Starving Children an organization dedicated to eliminating starvation in children throughout the world. Lauren helped the group pack up boxes of food to ship to kids in other countries, and she fell in love with the idea of helping those less fortunate than she.
Lauren excelled at Plainfield South High School in Illinois. Her grades were always stellar. She received the Certificate of Academic Excellence, the Certificate of Academic Achievement, The Prairie State Award, and the Presidential Academic Award. So naturally, everyone tried to push Lauren toward a 4 year degree. When she would tell people of her desire to pursue an automotive career, they would scoff and encourage her to “shoot for something more.” Lauren knew that wasn’t for her but she entertained the idea all the same. It was with the help of guidance counselor, Mrs. Erickson that Lauren was able to fully commit to pursuing a skilled trade, guilt free.
Mrs. Erickson oversaw the College and Career Center at Plainfield South, and she listened when Lauren told her that, “Working on cars held my interest more than anything else I had ever done.” She told Lauren about the amazing automotive program offered at nearby Joliet Junior College. Mrs. Erickson further explained that there were plenty of ways to put her book smarts to work in the automotive industry. With a little business acumen, she could one day own her own shop.
In that moment Lauren made her game plan. After graduating HS in 2014 she spent a year and a half working her butt off to save money for JJC. She started at Panera Bread and then wound up working for the Guaranteed Rate Mortgage Company as an Operations Assistant. Because of the money she saved, and Uncle Mario encouraging her to apply for a mikeroweWORKS Foundation work ethic scholarship, Lauren was able to begin attending the automotive program at JJC in the fall of 2016. She plans to graduate in May of 2018, then with her Associates Degree in hand, she will transfer to Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she plans to double major in Automotive and Business.
Today, Lauren still volunteers with Feed My Children. She also continues to work for Guaranteed Rate while attending classes. JJC has a full functioning shop. “Every Monday it’s like working at an actual auto shop,” and Lauren loves it. She is one of 7 females currently in the program.