When she's not out paving the way for female engineers, you can find Lauren at a Jewish event, watching a broadway show or mothering her incredible collection of house plants! Read on to learn all about why Lauren is our Mensch of the month.
Alyssa: What brought you to Houston last year?
Lauren: I moved to Houston from Beumont, Texas where I was living for a year and half working for ExxonMobil at our lubricants plant as a production scheduler. I basically worked myself out of that role through process improvement and new system implementations. At the end of my time there, I successfully eliminated my role and am now onto a new position on the team that helped support the new systems here in Houston! And the tacos...I also moved here for the tacos.
Alyssa: Were you happy to move to Houston from Beumont?
Lauren: Ya, I’m definitely a big city person, I like to be in places where I can walk everywhere, go to parks, find things to do...etc. There wasn’t a very large Jewish community in Beumont, so that was something to look forward to in Houston.
Alyssa: Has Jewish community played a big role in your life?
Lauren: Growing up I was involved with my local synagogue, had a Bat Mitzvah, stayed for confirmation, and then in college was very involved with Hillel at Virginia Tech, my second home on campus. I would go to Shabbat almost every week and bring my friends both Jewish and non Jewish to enjoy a nice meal before the weekend. Hillel allowed me to meet great people, mentors and friends, and through that I knew I wanted to continue to be involved in Jewish life as a young adult. Moving to Houston and being involved with so many Jewish organizations like Jewston is something that I really enjoy!
Alyssa: When you were in college how did you choose engineering?
Lauren: I actually figured that out in High School! My dad and my brother are also engineers, but my Sophomore year of high school I went to a really fun and nerdy Women’s in Engineering camp at Virginia Tech. I kind of knew I wanted to do engineering, but at this camp I got to meet really cool college kids, live in the dorms, meet professors and do different things on campus where I learned about industrial engineering which I found to be basically my personality with some equations attached. I am always looking for ways to do things better. I was hooked, Virginia Tech had great food and a beautiful campus in the summer, so I was set on studying industrial engineering and going to Virginia Tech!
Alyssa: That's amazing that you knew in High School and that Virginia Tech had the program you wanted! Have you been able to pay it forward and talk to young girls about engineering?
Lauren: Totally, in college I did a couple different panels, and in Beaumont worked with schools to do STEM activities and get young people and young girls into engineering by showing them different projects and the diversity of the engineering field.
Alyssa: Do you find that Engineering is becoming less of a Male dominated space these days?
Lauren: It’s definitely still male dominated. I have had experiences in professional situations where I’m the only woman and I get called “sir” out of reflex, I’ve been told to stay in my lane...etc. Those things you see in TV shows and movies that you are like, “that doesn’t happen in the real world”, have happened to me. There are a lot of spaces where I am the only woman engineer, so there is a lot of room for improvement.
Alyssa: Yasher Koach to you for leading the way as a strong female engineer!!! I am so inspired by your strength and tenacity, and I'm sure our community/readers will be too.
Alyssa: Now we get to some fun questions! Purim is coming up, so I have to know...what’s your go to Purim costume?
Lauren: I’m pretty bad at costumes, I'm normally a last minute costume person, so usually wear whatever I can find in my closet, like a normal outfit with a prop and make something fun out of it. I’m not a crafty person, so it has to come in a box or just something I can put together.
Alyssa: During the pandemic have you tried to become crafty?
Lauren: I did the baking thing, made a number of banana breads, and trying to improve my challah, it’s getting there. I started a puzzle at the beginning, but never finished it and ended up putting it away. I would say I got more into plants and gardening things and have acquired a lot more plants over quarantine.
Alyssa: What kind of plants do you have in your home?
Lauren: My favorite plants are my snake plant and some that I got at Trader Joes that grew into monsters! I’m most proud of my basil plant though. It was one of those that you get at the grocery store and it grew to be 4 ft tall! Everyone who sees it doesn’t believe it’s real! Most of it has turned into a fresh pesto, it’s amazing.
Alyssa: If you could see any show on Broadway complete with backstage pass, meet the cast...etc, what would it be?
Lauren: oooo, that’s tough. That’s like choosing your favorite child. The show I could see over and over again would probably be Wicked, but Waitress surprised me the most, I guess I didn’t have many expectations going into it, and I loved it. School of Rock would be an awesome one too, those kids are like 9 and 10 years old and way more talented than me, it was amazing to see! The original cast of Hamilton would be incredible. My dream job if I could get paid to do it would be watching Broadway all day.
Alyssa: When the pandemic over what’s the first thing you will do? Lauren: Well I haven’t gone inside a restaurant since the Pandemic, so I’m excited to go to a Mexican restaurant and eat baskets of chips! The arts is obviously a big one, getting back into theatre, being able to see more people, and have events come back. Travel a little bit, but exploring Houston more! I moved here right before the Pandemic, so I’ve seen a lot of outside things in Houston, but I'm excited to explore more and see more than three people at a time.
Alyssa: Finally, where did you grow up? Siblings? Pets? Lauren: I grew up in Northern Virginia, or NoVa as we like to call it. Lived there in the same house, same room until I went to college. I have an older brother who I am really close with. We overlapped for a year in college and would always meet up at Hillel for Shabbat and other events. We have two cats back at home, Grayson and Luna, replacements for Jason and Lauren (me and my brother haha)!
Alyssa: When Jewston comes together we... Lauren: Celebrate