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Jan 10

Student Spotlight photo - Lauryn Cooper.jpgIf second-year Honors student Lauryn Cooper could sum herself up in four words, they would (verbatim) be, "My life is animals." This is only fitting for the animal science/biosciences/pre-vet major, especially one who took on three internships this past summer back home in West Chester, PA.

Lauryn's busy break included working at an emergency vet clinic as a vet assistant (which she will continue working for come May); handling hedgehogs, reptiles, rabbits, birds, and other exotics at Norristown Elmwood Zoo; and doing both research and educational work at the Philadelphia Zoo, recalling an awestruck father watching his child and a baby gorilla perform nearly identical mannerisms and movements. Lauryn finds gorillas' mothering skills fascinating for their resemblance to humans, but focused her research project on giant river otters for the summer. By observing a mother, son, and daughter otter for at least an hour every day, Lauryn collected data analyzing the impact of weather on an otter's activity either in water or on land, and presented the findings to her supervisors. Other interesting anecdotes of hers were performing chest compressions on a dog and caring for a talkative macaw.

When she's not handling animals, Lauryn is a part of the Delta Zeta sorority, College Mentors for Kids, Pre-Vet Club, and volunteers twice a week at the Oncology and ICU unit of a vet hospital. While she certainly loves animals, she also has a passion for working with children. On a study abroad trip to Nicaragua, aside from learning about animal welfare differences in production, Lauryn says that her favorite part was home-stay: "I can't speak Spanish, but kids are the same in every culture, so I was able to communicate with them and play games."

As an Honors student, Lauryn also notes the influence of her Intro to Animal Science class on her educational experience thus far. She not only was able to decide on a body part to study with her group, she was able to dissect, prepare slides, and collect data on the quail musculoskeletal system, essentially participating in hands-on research her very first semester of college. "It was our project," she says, emphasizing the incredible independence and freedom her group had. "I learned a lot."

Some of Lauryn's favorite non-academic memories of OSU are decorating the common room with her suitemates in Lincoln Tower (#LincolnLife), singing Carmen with friends, and, like many Buckeyes, going to the Xichigan and Penn State football games. The collective, undying school spirit of Ohio State is part of what brought her to Columbus, including the renowned Veterinary School and excitement of a new city. In line with a desire for the unknown, one of Lauryn's biggest bucket list items is to attend the OSU-Xichigan game—in Ann Arbor. She plans to "go all out" for it and see for herself if the rivalry hatred is equal.

Lauryn grew up in a family of musicians, and plays four instruments herself: piano, clarinet, violin, and bassoon, although hesitates on her clarinet abilities nowadays. She loves Lost and Grey's Anatomy, and wants to travel the world someday, aspiring to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef. Like her career goals of attending vet school and working with wildlife, Lauryn's already taken steps toward this dream, aiming to get her scuba diving license within the next year through a class offered by OSU.

Her answer to the most important question to ask any animal sciences major? It's a toss-up: snow leopards are Lauryn's favorite animal for the moment, ever since she bonded with one at the zoo over the summer, but she is potentially adopting a pet hedgehog—or, in layman's terms, a "nocturnal spiky hamster." It's certainly not an easy choice.

By Bri Long, Honors & Scholars Media Team Member