One month into college, Lauren Schmidt discovered a close friend unresponsive and unable to breathe due to alcohol consumption. For the 2010 Bascom Hill Society Scholarship recipient, the emergency marked the beginning of what Lauren calls “a completely new perspective” and started her on a path of learning, service and leadership that she never expected, but at which she excelled.
Lauren, known as Nikki, is from Zenda, Wisconsin. A junior majoring in anthropology and legal studies, she maintains a 3.4 grade point average while personally financing her education.
Lauren also is an activist. During her sophomore year, she met with campus leaders to discuss ways they could work together to educate students about the dangers of binge drinking. She joined the campus Student Emergency Medical Service (SEMS) and in the summer of 2009, helped establish the national Red Watch Band program at the UW-Madison. Through this program, students become CPR certified, are trained as first responders in alcohol emergencies and help educate the campus community to prevent toxic drinking deaths. Lauren assumed a leadership role in SEMS, became an instructor and recruited other students to become instructors.
In February 2010, Lauren signed on as a Dane County Emergency Medical volunteer. This demanding work requires a significant time commitment, including weekends. Michael Newton, a captain with the UW-Madison Police Department, noticed Lauren’s determination and potential as a community leader. He asked Lauren to assume additional responsibilities, and today she is assistant service director of UW Police Department First Responders. “Neither the UWPD First Responders nor SEMS group would be the groups that they are today if it were not for all the work that Lauren puts into both of these groups,” he said. “Lauren has made the campus a better place.”