Get to Know Lauren Hoppa - Distinguished Young Woman of Colorado for 2012

Name: Lauren Hoppa
Age: 19
Hometown: Grew up in Franklin, Wisconsin but now living in Parker, Colorado
College: Oklahoma State University
Major: Athletic Training

Favorite TV show: Friday Night Lights
Favorite Olympic Sport: Summer – Gymnastics; Winter – Figure Skating
Favorite Time of Year: Fall
Favorite Quote: “I don’t know where it is you find courage. There isn’t a map. It sort of follows the road of emotion. Sometimes stopping your conviction in anger, other times parking beside fear. Courage plays no favorites, takes no sides. It can be as impressive as a walk on Venus or as simple as a kiss. And sometimes, in our darkest hours, courage is all we have.” – Unknown
Current #1 Song Played on Your iPod: Wanted – Hunter Hayes 

Plan ahead OR procrastinate: Plan ahead
Paper OR plastic: Plastic
Glass half-full OR glass half-empty: Glass half-full
Introvert OR Extrovert: Extrovert
Cats OR Dogs: Dogs
Morning person OR night person: Night person

Sum up yourself in three words.
Outgoing, persistent, athletic

What do you want to be when you grow up and why?
When I grow up, I want to be a physical therapist and preferably working in the sports medicine field. Being a dancer my whole life, I had several major injuries that required me to stop dancing for months at a time and to have a great deal of physical therapy. I often times felt that I was never going to recover and would never be able to dance again. However, my physical therapist worked with me not only on gaining strength back in my feet, but also keeping me motivated to recover. I understood how important the relationship was between a physical therapist and their patient. I saw first hand how moving the profession of physical therapy could be and was inspired to help others who were in the same position that I once was.

What is one goal that you have set for yourself and achieved? What is one goal that still remains to be achieved?
One of my greatest goals that I had set for myself was to qualify for the World Championships for Irish dance. Growing up, I had always looked up to the older dancers who had been perfecting their skills for so many years and what grace and poise that they had. Although I had to endure several injuries and surgeries to my feet, I never gave up on trying to obtain this goal. After countless hours of perfecting my skills, stretching, strengthening my muscles, and endless stamina workouts, I was grateful enough to have achieved this goal and represented the United States at the World Championships in 2009 and followed that up with the years after. One goal that I currently have is to make it into the Athletic Training program here at Oklahoma State University. It is a very competitive program and would be an honor to be accepted into during my sophomore year.

If you could be any color crayon, what would you be and why?
I would be the color pink. Pink has a variety of shades. It can be bright, vibrant and strong. I believe that this resembles one side of me as I am very outgoing and love sharing my positivity with others. However, pink can also be a more subtle and delicate shade as well.  Although I am very outgoing, another side of me shows compassion and how much I value my personal relationships and connections with each and every person that I meet. It is my softer side and that reveals my delicateness as well.

What is one thing you wish someone had told you about college life that you had to find out on your own?
People had always told me how important time management was. They always said to make sure that you plan out how you are going to spend your day. However, I still felt like I was rushed to get things done—particularly my homework. One thing that I have learned is just how valuable breaks in between classes are. Even if it is only a 15 minute break, they add up. By making use of each of these breaks to get a few problems done for math or a paragraph written for English, I found out that homework and studying becomes much less stressful and rushed.

Describe your single-most favorite moment from your Distinguished Young Women experience.
I never would have expected how great of an impact Distinguished Young Women has had on me. I know, that probably sounds cheesy. But this experience has changed my character and motives me for the better. My favorite moment occurred while we were in Mobile, Alabama for the National Finals. On Be Your Best Self Day, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Woody's Song, a school for children all of whom have autism. Until that day, I had never personally worked with those who have autism. To be honest, I was a little worried about what to expect. However, from the moment I walked into that first classroom, I was overwhelmed by the love, compassion, humor and joy that each of these children had. I remember sitting down with a young boy who could not speak because he had missed this learning section in his life due to autism. However, he could still communicate through the use of a program on an iPad. I was astounded by how this simple technology changed this young boy’s life. I also fell in love with their love. All of the students just wanted to be loved – whether that’s through hugs, tickles or just by playing games with them. In return, they gave you that same love back through a smile or giggling laugh. For me, this was as an eye opening experience. The fact the Distinguished Young Women could just spend one day with them shows how much greater this program is. It’s not just about the 2 weeks we spent in Mobile or who one the title of Distinguished Young Woman of America. I believe that it is about what we can take away and give back. It is about every community we can help, every service project we can do and every life we affect. We are 50 young women from the class of 2012 who are just beginning to share all that we have learned.