Walk into Lauren Victoria Bennett’s office and one of the first things you see on her wall, alongside her wedding and family photos, is excerpt from a poem by Marianne Williamson. It reads: “We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, talented, gorgeous, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
Bennett’s job, above all else, is to make sure N.C. Central University athletes succeed with their academic courses. She took on the job of Learning Specialist with Student Athlete Academic Support Services in fall 2017 . And each and everyday she is committed to makings sure NCCU athletes succeed in their academic endeavors. Bennett said she strives to improve student athletes’ study habits and independence.
“My goal is to educate young adults in a way that empowers them to seek truth, and knowledge, and to grow, and self-actualize toward a fulfilling life,” Bennet said.
According to Assistant Athletic Director for Academic Support Kwadjo Steele, student athletes in all sports now average a 3.0 or better GPA for the first time since she’s arrived.
“Lauren was a really big pick up for us, I would equate it too finding a star recruit when they were really underrated in high school. Mrs. Bennett came to us only having less than a year of experience working in academic support. We were in need of a learning specialist at the time,” Steele said. “I know that Lauren is a big reason why we were able to achieve that goal. She is able to connect, and help our student athletes grow as students, and as individuals is very essential in the Department of Athletics.”
Bennett, born and raised in Wisconsin, earned a degree in psychology at the University of Colorado. After receiving her degree, she went on to earn her Master’s in Sports and Exercise Psychology from UNC Greensboro. From there Bennett worked as an Assistant Academic Counselor for a year at UNC Chapel Hill, before taking the job of Learning Specialist at NCCU.
“Lauren is a very special person to the student-athletes. She’s like your mom at school and only wants the best for everyone,” said NCCU running back Jordan Freeman. “Lauren makes sure you come to study hall and get your hours so you can have the GPA you desire. She goes out her way to help you with anything. We truly appreciate her.”
One of Bennett’s challenges are getting students to come to study hall, helping student stay on task and also general motivation towards academics. Some of her strategies include holding students accountable, learning with them, teach them organizational skills and having a good relationship with every athletic coaching staff on campus to make sure that they are also helping Bennett with the effort to ensure that athletes are staying on there academics.
“Lauren is an amazing person and I say that because she’s not just someone who sees us as athletes. She wants all of us to ball out in our academics just as hard as we do in our sport. Lauren is there even when you need her outside of sports and school which makes her such a great counselor,” said NCCU wide receiver Nique Martin. “I don’t think she understand how much of an impact she’s had on my academic life — from helping me in PSP to staying on top of me about study hall hours and even just having someone to talk to. I’m very grateful to have Ms. Lauren as a part of the Eagle family.”
Story by Arthur Randall/Echo Contributing Reporter.