Lauren Dutton, graduate student at Southeastern Louisiana University and a native of Slidell, completed her graduate program in Kinesiology in August and will be traveling over 500 miles to walk across the graduation stage on Saturday, Dec. 12.
Back in August, Dutton defended her thesis covering the effectiveness in women for using Zumba, the video game, as an exercise tool as opposed to simply walking on a treadmill.
Earlier in the summer, she applied for employment at the Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Lake City, FL. After receiving the offer that all students would love to have after college, it came at a price. She was asked to start her dream job; however, at that time she was still finishing her thesis and had not yet graduated.
“The decision to move to Florida was an easy decision to make because this is a job that I have been working towards for years now. I have always said that when an opportunity presented itself, I would take it. The move itself was kind of hard because of the distance between my family and I, but my family has always had my back and continues to support me even now in Florida,” Dutton said.
“I am elated that Lauren has decided to come back for graduation. It is evident from both working with her and witnessing her academic success that she deserves to formally celebrate her incredible achievements. It is no surprise to me that Lauren has already obtained both her masters degree and her dream job so early in life. She is an exceptional co-worker, student and friend. I am truly privileged to have had the opportunity to get to know her,” Amanda Ballouk, Office for Student Engagement graduate assistant, said.
Dutton started her master’s program in spring of 2014. Her thesis committee made an exception for her specific circumstance with her employment opportunity. Being that she was able to defend her thesis early allowed her to shift her concentration focus from Exercise Science and Health Promotion to Kinesiology to take her final graduate level course online from Florida.
Currently working at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dutton works with veterans with functional limitations, providing bracing for lower extremities, working with amputees and improving their gait with their prosthesis. In addition to that, she assists in weight loss, to improve overall physical weakness, to distribute wheelchairs and to provide help to veterans recovering from alcohol and substance abuse.
Dutton started her college career at the University of Southern Mississippi receiving a Bachelor of Kinesiotherapy. During her undergraduate time she served as a resident assistant and interned at the Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
“If the opportunity comes up to move back to Louisiana I will definitely look into it. Until then, I am enjoying my time in Lake City,” Dutton said.