An IWU Legacy: 2018 School Counselor of the Year – Lauren Alspaugh
By: Kendra Housel
Lauren Alspaugh and her husband Shawn have already begun talking with their three children, all below the age of seven, about college; specifically, they both have begun attempting to recruit the children to attend their alma mater.
For Lauren, that means talking with them about, Indiana Wesleyan University, where she earned both her bachelor’s and her master’s degrees. There are high stakes in this early recruitment operation, since Shawn attended Taylor University. Not only that, but his entire family—brother, parents, grandparents—all went to Taylor as well. Lauren likes to remind them, however, that Shawn’s other grandmother married Arthur Hodson, the namesake of IWU’s Hodson hall—so while Taylor attendance may run in the family, they also have a child whose middle name— “Hodson”—is on one of IWU’s residential halls. She’s confident that she’ll get her children to take her side—but at the very least, she hopes they choose a Christian university and is thankful for the legacy of Christian education in her family.
After completing her bachelors in three years and graduating with her degree in psychology in 2007, she continued on and got her master’s in counseling in 2009. Though she is originally from southern Indiana, she had not heard of IWU until a couple girls from her youth group, whose faith and academic merit she admired, chose to attend. After their attendance peaked an interest, Alspaugh decided to come on a campus visit for herself. She says that she now often tells young people trying to discern where they’ll go to college that “a visit makes all the difference;” she stepped on IWU’s campus and know that it was exactly where she belonged.
Her time at IWU was spent encouraging others, which she said is one of her spiritual gifts; she was the official encourager for her resident’s hall. She spent much of her time studying, since she did have a twenty-one-credit-hour semester at one point in order to finish her undergraduate degree in three years, but she found time for lots of other things as well. She loved making lasting friendships, with most peers and professors. She was also involved in the psychology honors society and worked in the student support center (which is now called the Center for Student Success). Through both the class curriculum, which allowed her to grow in her personal study of the bible, and through chapel services, she said her faith grew significantly during her time at IWU. Specifically, her prayer life changed quite a lot, because she grew to value it more and understand the importance of it. One of her years, the chapel also gave every student a one-year-bible which she still uses every couple of years to help her keep up a daily habit of being in the Word. Alspaugh says that her time at IWU was so wonderful that she has a dream of returning to work at the school someday.
Currently, Alspaugh works for North Putman High School in Roachdale, Indiana as the Director of Guidance. She primarily serves the 11th and 12th grade students, in academic, social, and emotional situations. Much of her job, since she works most closely with upper classmen, centers on helping students with their post-secondary plans. She came into college predeclared in her major, which she encourages her students to do as well, especially those who are unsure about what they want in the future. She was awarded the school counselor of the year award in November of 2018 which Alspaugh said was both and honor and a surprise. She loves the supportive community of peers and administrators who always encourage her to try out new solutions and programs, to meet the needs of each unique situation her students face. Alspaugh said that graduation is always an incredibly emotional and impactful time, seeing her students finally reach a goal, especially those who “fought tooth and nail to get to that day.” Though NPHS is a public school, she spends much of her time praying silently for her students, who she loves deeply. She always takes comfort in the fact that, though some days can be incredibly difficult as a counselor, that she has a Wonderful Counselor in Jesus Christ who she can run to.
Alspaugh would like to pass on these words of wisdom to current students: “For perfectionistic students, get involved and have fun because the friendships with your professors and your fellow students are something that can last so long— don’t just hide away in your rooms—get involved and put yourself out there—savor every moment—have fun with your dorm and build relationships.”
Written by Kendra Housel, writer for the IWU Alumni Center. Kendra is a junior English and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. She is also a member of the University Chorale. Kendra is passionate about serving Christ through writing, singing and caring for others.