Lauren Pitarresi ‘21, a Staten Island resident, has been running for as long as she can remember. Her father, an avid runner, would bring her to his races when she was a child and enter her in the youth competitions. She cherished that time with her father and also appreciated the opportunities that running gave her over the years. Lauren continued with the sport with much success in high school, which led her to Wagner College’s NCAA Division 1 Women’s Cross Country & Track and Field team.
Lauren is amazed at how quickly her time at Wagner went, but looks back on her four years with great appreciation. “When I think about my team I cannot help but think about the self confidence I’ve gained from being surrounded by supportive and encouraging individuals, the amazing friendships I have developed and being able to have a second family. Not only was I able to have a great group of teammates beside me the past four years, but great coaches as well.”
Not only a star on the track, Lauren is also a hard working student who is wrapping up her studies as a senior in the Evelyn L. Spiro School of Nursing. “I chose to pursue a degree in nursing because I want to be able to spread my positivity to my patients and care for them. There is a part of nursing that cannot be expressed in words. It’s empathy that comes from your heart. Every patient I’ve met through nursing school has left an impact on my life, which allowed me to grow as an individual. The feeling of changing an individual's life is something I could not see my life without.”
Lauren’s hard work was recognized when she was awarded The Louise W. Murphy (Gold Star Mother) Track and Field Scholarship for the 2020-2021 academic year. The scholarship is named in memory of Louise Wickert Murphy, a daughter of German immigrants, who did not have the opportunity to attend college herself, but never let her lack of opportunity hinder her love of learning. Louise ensured that her three sons, Walter ‘58, Bob ‘60, and Hank ‘63 M’69, had the opportunity to go to Wagner and earn their degrees. Louise was very proud that her sons attended Wagner, often attending campus events and hosting her sons’ Delta Nu fraternity brothers at her home for home baked treats. Tragically, Walter, a teacher and a U.S. Marine officer, was killed in Vietnam in 1968 while rescuing wounded Marines from his command. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his brave and selfless service. To honor Louise’s love of learning, love of Wagner, and love for her son who gave his life for his country, Bob and Hank created the scholarship, which is awarded to an undergraduate student each year.
Lauren recently had the opportunity to meet Bob and Hank via Zoom. “It was such a pleasure to meet with Bob and Hank and gain insight into what contributed in making their mother and brother very special people. Running has opened a lot of doors for me, including getting into Wagner College. Being the recipient of The Louise W. Murphy (Gold Star Mother) Track and Field Scholarship has not only helped to support my education, it allowed me the time to help others by volunteering through my sport, to help others find their passion and help them learn the discipline and dedication to succeed in achieving their goals.” Hank remarked, “Lauren realizes, through running, the mental strength it takes to achieve her goals. My mother instilled in her sons, ‘To keep it smart, keep it simple, keep it you! Perseverance wins out!’” Bob also enjoyed getting to know Lauren, “I was delighted to meet Lauren. She is an energetic, bright, dedicated young woman who reflects all the attributes my mother prized. I know she would be most pleased with her selection. Lauren is planning to specialize in pediatric oncology which I found most impressive!”
While Lauren acknowledges that pediatric oncology is a difficult nursing field, she is looking forward to it. She recalled an experience that she had in her pediatric clinical rotation. “My professors have always stressed the importance of developing genuine connections with patients. I was never able to fully grasp in class what this truly meant until I started my clinicals. One morning, I was assigned a young boy. Before I began assessing him, I sat with him to show him that he could trust me. The hospital setting can be scary for a child, but they are still children - joyful, silly and loving. After I finished my assessment, I took some more time to sit with him and talk to him so he could tell me his favorite characters from the television show that was playing in the background. His mother spoke very little English, but kept repeating ‘thank you.’ The look of gratitude on her face is something I will never forget.”