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Lauren Stefanko

1555

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Finalist

Bio

I am a current student at James Madison University and majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management with a General Business minor. I am very interested in the Hotel and Food/Beverage industry and would love to gain more experience and knowledge in those fields. I loving working in customer service and providing a great experience for all guests. I have made so many great friends here at James Madison and I am excited to be continuing my education in the hospitality industry!

Education

James Madison University

Bachelor's degree program
2022 - 2026
  • Majors:
    • Hospitality Administration/Management
  • Minors:
    • Business/Commerce, General
    • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services, Other
  • GPA:
    3.7

Mills E Godwin High School

High School
2018 - 2022
  • GPA:
    3.7

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Bachelor's degree program

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Hospitality Administration/Management
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Test scores:

    • 1070
      SAT

    Career

    • Dream career field:

      Leisure, Travel, & Tourism

    • Dream career goals:

      Company Founder/Owner

    • Server/Cashier (Seasonal)

      Country Club of Virginia
      2023 – Present1 year
    • Cashier

      Panera
      2023 – Present1 year
    • Server (Seasonal)

      Country Club of Virginia
      2022 – 2022
    • Referee

      Richmond Volleyball Club
      2018 – 20202 years
    • Front Desk

      Crunch Fitness
      2020 – 20211 year
    • Sale Associate

      American Eagle
      2021 – 20232 years

    Sports

    Volleyball

    Varsity
    2017 – 20214 years

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Pay It Forward — Helper
      2019 – 2019
    • Volunteering

      Catholic Heart Work Camp — Leader/volunteer
      2018 – 2019

    Future Interests

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Entrepreneurship

    Sylvester Taylor "Invictus" Hospitality Scholarship
    Hi! My name is Lauren Stefanko and I am from Richmond, VA. I am currently a freshman at James Madison University studying Hospitality/Tourism Management with a minor in Business and Honors. I chose James Madison because it was one of the only schools with a hospitality major close to me, and luckily it was in Virginia as well. I had never heard of a hospitality major before and once I heard about it I knew it was what I wanted to do. I have many years of experience in customer service and I enjoy being able to engage with people and help them in any way that I can. Over the summer of 2022, I became a server at the Country Club of Virginia and that sparked my interest in the food and beverage area of hospitality. I just think it is such a complex and interesting area and I would love to learn more about it. I am currently planning on going back for this coming summer to get more experience as well. At James Madison, I am involved with many different clubs and organizations that fit my hobbies. My favorite club has to be CHAARG which is a health/fitness/well organization. I got really into working out in high school and ever since then, it has always been one of my top priorities. I started getting into the bodybuilding aspect of it within the last year or two and I have been contemplating the idea of competing in the future. I think it would be so fun to try something new and different. I am also involved with CMAA, Club Management Associate of America, which has helped me to get more involved with the hospitality major and community. This semester, I also started working with JMU dining services at the on-campus Panera to help get work experience hours that go toward my major. Hospitality is something that I am very passionate about as I like to stay busy. My first year at James Madison has been so amazing and I can’t wait to see what I can make of the next 3 years as well.
    Healthy Eating Scholarship
    As a freshman at James Madison University, I was so excited to become more independent and be able to start a routine that works for me. I have joined many clubs that are related to my major, hobbies, and just for fun with my favorite extracurricular club being Chaarg. Chaarg is a nationally recognized club that encourages women to get in the gym and live an active lifestyle. I found this club on social media and was so excited to join when I got to JMU. I have already been an avid gym goer and love to do strength training. I have met many amazing people through the weekly workouts and our small group activities. The Chaarg group has helped me maintain a healthy lifestyle while adjusting to the new and exciting college routine. They have weekly workouts that all members can sign up for and they range from HIIT training sessions to a local pole dancing studio. All activity experience levels are welcomed with open arms to learn new things and meet people with similar interests and hobbies. One of my favorite weekly workouts has been sunset yoga at our university park. It was such a fun experience where I got to try out yoga (which was a lot harder than I expected), meet new people and watch a beautiful sunset. Being a part of one of the small groups has helped me connect with other new members of Chaarg. I have been able to share some of my experiences of adjusting to college life and relate to some of the other member’s struggles as well. While small groups are not workout styled, they are more of a fun and mindful type of learning. My group has done activities such as painting, self-reflection, and creating a vision/mood board. These types of activities have helped me become more aware of my mental health and not just physical workouts. Even though we only meet as a whole in person once a week, I have found myself texting the group chat for advice about a problem that may have come up or just to ask if anyone wants to get lunch together. Having a group like this has helped to keep me motivated and know that I am not the only one who occasionally struggles. Chaarg has allowed me to meet so many people with the same interest in fitness as me. Everyone brings a different background and expertise that I am able to learn from and incorporate into my workout schedule. I have loved being a part of this community and it has made my transition into college much easier.
    Growing with Gabby Scholarship
    About two years ago, I got a summer job at my local gym. I never really went to the gym because I had a pretty active life playing various sports growing up and school and club volleyball throughout highschool. Going to the gym was never something I was really interested in because it seemed scary for a teenage girl and I just felt like I wouldn’t fit in there. But my mom practically forced me to apply for a job there when she saw that they were hiring. I love my mom for that because that one moment set my life on a whole different course. I was working in the kids zone by myself, but since it was a smaller gym not many kids would come so I would just sit at the front desk and talk with the person working and wait for the kids. I got super close with the trainers, housekeeping and front desk workers because everyone would just hang out at the front desk when it was slow. It was a great working environment and everyone felt like family, (I know all jobs say that but this actually felt like it). After working there for a few months, I started to get to know the regulars that would come in. They all knew one of the front desk workers, Justin, so I eventually got to know a few of them really well. And after a semester in college, I still talk to most of them on a regular schedule. I got comfortable in the gym environment and started to workout after my shifts. Just starting with the basic treadmill and 2 simple exercises, nothing too complicated. To me, working out was fun, but I was just doing random things that I would see on instagram or social media: treadmill warmup, dumbbell squats, and bicep curls. Looking back, noon of those exercises went together, but I was just starting and we all gotta start somewhere right? After a year of working at the gym, this new guy gets hired. If you told me back then that we would have started dating and are about to celebrate our 1.5 year anniversary I would have not believed you. Thanks mom for telling me about a job and basically introducing me to my boyfriend! So far my fitness journey was not a journey as I kept doing the same exercises everyday with the same weight. Not making any actual progress but I did feel more confident in myself at the gym. The new hire, Zack, started to teach me about different exercises and workout programs that would actually help me make some progress. Before that, I didn;t really care about progress, the gym just felt like something to do; like everyone went so why shouldn’t I? We began to workout together and he taught me about the muscle groups and what exercises to do if I wanted to target a specific one. Fast forward to now, and I can talk forever about all different types of workout splits, exercises, and nutrition. Zack has helped me discover a new path that I could have never seen myself going down before. I have found a love for the gym and working out that has helped me stay grounded through tough times. Going from working out every day together to having to navigate it by myself in college has definitely been a challenge, but this is something that I have grown a passion for and I would not trade it for the world. So, thanks mom for everything you have done.
    Mind, Body, & Soul Scholarship
    As a freshman at James Madison University, I was so excited to become more independent and be able to start a routine that works for me. I have joined many clubs that are related to my major, hobbies, and just for fun with my favorite extracurricular club being Chaarg. Chaarg is a nationally recognized club that encourages women to get in the gym and live an active lifestyle. I found this club on social media and was so excited to join whe I got to JMU. I have already been an avid gym goer and love to do strength training. I have met some many amazing people through the weekly workouts and our small group activities. The Chaarg group has helped me maintain a healthy lifestyle while adjusting to the new and exciting college routine. They have weekly workouts that all members can sign up for and they range from HIIT training sessions to a local pole dancing studio. All activity experience levels are welcomed with open arms to learn new things and meet people with similar interests and hobbies. One of my favorite weekly workouts has been sunset yoga at our university park. It was such a fun experience where I got to try out yoga (which was a lot harder than I expected), meet new people and watch a beautiful sunset. Being a part of one of the small groups has helped me connect with other new members of Chaarg. I have been able to share some of my experiences of adjusting to college life and relate to some of the other member’s struggles as well. While small groups are not workout styled, they are more of a fun and mindful type of learning. My group has done activities such as painting, self reflection, and creating a vision/mood board. These types of activities have helped me become more aware of my mental health and not just physical workouts. Even though we only meet as a whole in person once a week, I have found myself texting the group chat for advice about a problem that may have come up or just to ask if anyone wants to get lunch together. Having a group like this has helped to keep me motivated and know that I am not the only one who occasionally struggles. Chaarg has allowed me to meet so many people with the same interest in fitness as me. Everyone brings a different background and expertise that I am able to learn from and incorporate into my workout schedule. I have loved being a part of this community and it has made my transition into college much easier.
    Healthy Eating Scholarship
    Eating a variety of food is beneficial and provides nutrients that your brain and body need to function properly. I find that traditional “healthy” foods like salads are not my idea of a nutrient rich meal. My idea of a healthy meal is one that can make me stay fuller for longer while keeping me energized throughout the day. I have always been good at eating a variety of food, but recently I have been interested in becoming more knowledgeable about the types of nutrients the foods I eat provide. As a college student, I have a meal plan that includes 2 punches/swipes a day along with any extra money that I want to spend. Eating healthy can be challenging because I have to plan out my meals ahead of time so that they are during the breaks between my classes. This has allowed me to have a consistent eating schedule so that I don't miss any meals. Being on a campus meal plan I have many different dining options available to me and while Chick-fil-A everyday does sound tempting, I know that I need to eat a variety of nutritious foods to keep me energized. My go-to meal is a simple chicken veggie stir fry with rice. This is a great and basic meal that includes a good amount of protein, carbs, and fat that can theoretically be consumed for every meal everyday while also being delicious. I have started to become more conscious of what nutrients are in the food that I eat so that I will feel full as I am walking to classes. One of my long time hobbies has been going to the gym. I have learned that while going to the gym is good physical activity, most of your muscle is made in the kitchen. While I do not track any of my calories, I do track the macros which include: protein, carbs, and fats. This is more beneficial in knowing what your body needs without the stress of trying to stay within a certain caloric intake range. While I don’t stress out about the numbers on the scale, I do try to be mindful of how much I eat and how that food affects my body. Healthy eating habits can look different to everyone and there is no right or wrong answer however finding one that works for you might take some research. I have found a good baseline of healthy foods that help to provide my body with the nutrients it needs on an everyday basis.
    Hobbies Matter
    My favorite hobby is going to the gym/fitness. I have been going to the gym for a couple of years, but I started to take lifting seriously within the last year. My boyfriend Zack is very into lifting and we started going together which made me strengthen my connection with health and fitness. I have met many new people that all share the same interests and goals as I do. They help push me into achieving my goals and celebrate with me as I hit them. Although I do not follow a diet of any sort or count calories, I find that my mental and physical health has improved from following an intuitive eating and only counting my protein intake. This helps me to focus on putting on muscle and not trying to lose weight. I have learned that most fitness tips or tricks on the internet are fake and that you should always double-check your facts to improve your knowledge. Thankfully Zack knows a lot more about fitness and has helped me to understand this previous foreign and intimidating world. Going to the gym is now a staple in my daily routine and I really enjoy the energy and feeling of accomplishment that comes from finishing a workout. My proudest achievement at the moment is I recently just reached a new personal record of bench 135lbs or one plate which I have been working towards for a while now. I have heard about lifting clubs or a popular social media club called girl gains that are on multiple college campuses. I hope to join a club or group that has an interest in lifting and fitness when I go to college in the fall. The gym has given me an outlet to release any built-up stress that I have had throughout the day and I am very excited to meet new people who share this hobby with me at college!