NRES Student Ambassador Lauren Brunk
Hometown: Grayslake, IL
Year/Graduation: Sophomore, May 2023
Concentration: Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology
Why Illinois? – What factors helped contribute to your decision to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign?
Back in high school, I was overwhelmed with the idea of college. Although I had huge dreams about
my future and the goals I wanted to accomplish, a lot of colleges seemed so intimidating or
unattainable. However, when I visited Illinois, I was surrounded by incredibly intelligent people who
were equally friendly and educated. They knew how to connect their complex ideas to those around
them, and this both comforted and excited me. It proved to me that Illinois was more of a home than
any other college I visited. Furthermore, Illinois is acclaimed for its state-of-the-art research and
faculty. The idea that I was going to be taught by some of the most brilliant minds from around the
world made learning seem so much more valuable. Now that I’m here, I know I made the right
choice of making Illinois my new home, making people from all over the world my new family, and
using my college education to propel me towards my future aspirations.
Why NRES? – Specifically, why did you choose to study Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences?
Since I was young, I’ve always been passionate about the environment. From my mom teaching me
to pick up trash wherever I go, to visiting my local forest preserves and gazing for hours in awe at
the Western Painted Turtles, I’ve developed a deep responsibility to conserve and protect our natural
world. As I grew up, I became more aware of the heartbreaking reality of our planet, and I became
filled with a fiery passion to make a difference. I always knew I wanted a job in the life sciences.
However, even when I started at Illinois as a Freshman, I was still exploring the possibilities.
Through much research, I discovered NRES provides the foundation to propel me towards my goals.
NRES focuses on hands-on experiences in the field, whether through lab courses, undergraduate
research opportunities, or clubs. It provides students with a well-rounded perspective of the
environment as an interconnection of all things, which is a great stepping stone for any career path in
the environmental sciences field. It is never too late to explore the possibilities and consider NRES!