‘I’ve Loved Every Second’

Lauren Baker smiles for the camera in front of the Old Well at UNC-Chapel Hill

Lauren Baker ’24 wanted to come to Carolina because of the University’s stature and history. The additional opportunity to graduate debt-free as a Carolina Covenant Scholar “was huge,” she said.

“It is a beautiful campus with a long history. It’s also a school that prioritizes low-income students and has created a community for us on campus through the Carolina Covenant.”

Lauren, who hails from Matthews, North Carolina, watched her sister and brother graduate college with significant debt. “Coming from a family with divorced parents, my older siblings act like a second set of parents,” she said. “They didn’t want me to have to worry about what they’ve had to worry about. Being able to walk through the last four years with this incredible sense of peace, knowing that the Carolina Covenant has my back and that I had time to explore — I’ve loved every second.”

Lauren knew the Carolina Covenant came with a built-in system of support, from work-study to mentorship to career networking, and she took advantage of every opportunity. She didn’t realize, however, that she’d fall in love with the Carolina Covenant program itself. When talking about her internship with the Covenant office, she quickly shifted from saying I to we.

“I got to do two big projects with the Covenant, assisting with new student orientation and contributing to foundational research on scholar wellbeing,” Lauren said. “We came to the conclusion that care is not what we — the Carolina Covenant — do. It’s who we are. We really care for our students. We want to see them succeed and thrive.”

Conducting research with double Tar Heel alumna Jayne Davis, the director of Covenant Scholar wellbeing, was instrumental in Lauren’s self awareness in regards to her own mental health.

“My Carolina experience has been different from a lot of Tar Heel generations of the past,” shared Lauren, who entered her first-year in fall of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. She recalled the suicides in 2021. “And then the events of the past couple of weeks this year,” she added, referring to the violence experienced on campus on August 28, 2023. “Because of all that, I think my generation of Tar Heels is more focused on mental wellbeing and health.”

Lauren shared that she was diagnosed with ADHD her sophomore year, and the pandemic exacerbated her already existing anxiety. She learned to take time to explore what mental wellbeing and health mean to her, in a practical sense.

“Being able to work with the Covenant office — particularly Jayne — has given me the skills to cope when I graduate and begin my career,” said Lauren. “I’ve been able to feel more like a whole person in terms of my wellbeing. That’s incredible.”

Lauren has also been an active member of the Carolina Covenant Student Advisory Council, a group of Covenant Scholars who engage in mentored internship experience, where they help facilitate the program’s goals. This year, Lauren is the council’s chair.

Lauren went from majoring in chemistry to medical anthropology, but now — after her work with the Carolina Covenant, her service as chair of the Carolina Covenant Student Advisory Council, her contributions to scholar wellbeing research — she has a different future in mind.

“The Carolina Covenant gave me the freedom to figure out what I want to do,” Lauren said. “I’m planning to get my master’s in higher education administration so that I can work in an office like the Carolina Covenant and support students and help them know that they are more than just scholars — they’re people first.”

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