Lauren Schleger grew up in Kingaroy, a small town three hours north of Brisbane, where she heard stories about her mother, Janet, changing lives through her role in child protection.
Those stories inspired Lauren to follow in Janet’s footsteps by studying a Bachelor of Counselling at Griffith University.
Lauren says she is driven by a desire to help people live happy and fulfilling lives. It’s why she took on the degree. Her values were fostered by her parents, particularly, Janet, who Lauren says has been her rock.
“I’m grateful for everything she has done for me. In my eyes, she has a strong vision, she is fair, and has always inspired me to be as fair minded as she is,” Lauren said. “I grew up hearing her experiences; she has such a positive influence on the community through her work, and I knew I wanted to do the same.”
“She has such a positive influence on the community through her work, and I knew I wanted to do the same.”
Lauren, a member of Griffith Honours College, a school within Griffith for outstanding students, wasn’t sure she would be able to attend university. At the end of Year 12, she was too ill to contemplate the rigours of study.
She had endured health problems for so long that it just felt ‘normal’. Her illness, though, had always remained a mystery, and it became progressively worse. When a doctor finally diagnosed the problem as celiac disease, it was life changing. Lauren was able to make almost immediate improvements to her health.
“I was sick all the time,” Lauren explained. “At that stage, I couldn’t envision myself as a student, because everything was too much. Now I am well again, and I can see myself completing my degree.”
It’s common for sufferers of celiac disease to go undiagnosed. The condition affects 1 in 80 Australians, but 80 per cent of sufferers don’t know they have it. With her own health improved, Lauren is working to help improve the health of communities.
Her first placement will be with the Benevolent Society, where she hopes to build on the practical skills she has learned in the classroom at Griffith.
“It’s more than just reading out of a textbook; we have fantastic opportunities to practice the skills we need to be successful as counsellors by working with our tutors and our peers,” she said. “They have created in us the foundational skills that we can grow when we enter the workforce.”
“They have created in us the foundational skills that we can grow when we enter the workforce.”
In regard to her career, Lauren is keeping her options open. She is interested in developmental and grief counselling, but for the moment she is looking forward to being an accredited counsellor and going from there.
The town, city or community Lauren chooses to pursue her career will certainly benefit from her presence. “I’ve already been offered several amazing opportunities to broaden my horizons and learn new skills. I’m interested in where that will lead me in the future, and I can’t wait to get into a counselling organisation.”