July 17th, 2013
Since becoming a faculty advisor in the Human Development Department in 2008, the number of students Lauren Rauscher advises has grown considerably, from 376 students to 632.
Despite the significant increase in the number of majors, she makes it a priority to get to know students both academically and personally so she can best help them achieve success and be a mentor they can trust. She works diligently to accommodate students’ schedules, ensuring there is plenty of time for them to discuss concerns and create plans for success. She meets with students individually, in weekly new majors sessions and during walk-in advising hours.
Social, economic, and cultural factors shape student experiences, and being attentive to the barriers and opportunities they present for students is key for successful advising. More than 50 percent of students at CSULB require remediation in math, English or both; an overwhelming number (more than 90 percent) combine paid work with school; a significant number are first-generation college students; and many struggle with depression and anxiety.
“Conversations with many students in our department reveal that our students face public transportation issues to get to campus, some taking three buses each way from home to school,” said Rauscher. “Others are responsible for juggling significant family responsibilities while they move toward degree completion—caring for their own children, their siblings, their parents, and/or holding multiple jobs so that they can contribute financially at home.”
Rauscher has learned that other students are homeless and live out of their cars. And, given that the human development major is 95 percent young women, she frequently talks with students about their experiences with sexual assault and stress between gendered and cultural expectations of them and their own aspirations. These structural and cultural constraints have a significant impact on the path to degree completion and post-graduate plans. Rauscher strives to create open spaces for students to talk about these issues, create student-specific plans for success, and connect them with additional resources on campus for support, if needed.
She serves on students’ theses committees and often meets with students informally to discuss graduate school and their professional goals. Since becoming an advisor, she has written more than 200 letters of recommendation for graduate school, academic awards, scholarships and study abroad opportunities.
When not on campus, Rauscher serves as chair of the board of directors for Girls on the Run of Los Angeles County, a sports-based positive youth development program designed to educate and prepare preteen girls for self-respect and healthy living. To date, more than 30 CSULB students have participated in Girls on the Run as mentors, research assistants and interns.
Adapted from Inside CSULB’s larger piece “Rauscher, Speirs Ali, Shon Earn Distinguished Faculty Awards.”
Photo: Lauren Rauscher (c) with College of Liberal Arts’ Dean David Wallace and CSULB Interim President Donald Para