Lauren Mann, from Outside Philadelphia to Inside PNW
For Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management student Lauren Mann, the goal has always been to help other people. This past summer, that meant packing up the car and heading out to the Pacific Northwest to start her Fall 2023 internship with Pierce County Parks and Recreation in the state of Washington. “So far, it has been really fun,” said Lauren. “My first week they threw me into their 20th annual car show to help with the event. I will eventually get the opportunity to work with all the different departments.”
Lauren’s home town is King of Prussia Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. She started her college career as a psychology major at a small school in Southwestern PA but soon realized that the small environment wasn’t what she wanted. With stops through both Abington and Altoona campuses and the disruption of COVID, she came to University Park at the beginning of her junior year. An advisor at the Altoona campus first introduced RPTM as an option for a minor. Lauren decided RPTM was the major for her after taking some introductory courses. Since then, it has been full steam ahead and she hasn’t looked back.
Lauren has taken advantage of the many extra and co-curricular opportunities that Penn State has to offer. In addition to participating in RPTM 345 (Guest Activities Practicum) and the trip to Nevada and California in 2020, Lauren has been involved in Movin’ On, the RPTM Student Society, and THON. Additionally, she has been a student member of the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society (PRPS), attending their annual conference in Hershey, PA last March.
“THON has been my thing,” Lauren said with a smile. She initially got involved through the student organization Boulevard in the planning and fundraising for the remote version of THON during COVID. She served two years on the Executive Board of Boulevard. Her involvement in Boulevard was capped off with being selected as a dancer in 2023. She was recently awarded the RPTM Mills Family Scholarship which recognizes student involvement, particularly with THON.
As Alumni Relations Chair for Movin’ On, Penn State’s annual outdoor music festival, Lauren and her team developed newsletters and reached out to past participants and alumni with news about the latest happenings. Last Spring, Lauren stepped in to fill the vacant role of Secretary of the RPTM Student Society. “I stepped in to be an officer for one semester when the position came open. I thought I could bring my experience from my other organizations to help out the RPTMSS.”
Lauren and fellow RPTM recent graduate Leeann Piekut (2023) packed up the car and headed to Seattle where Lauren had accepted a position in the county parks and recreation department. Leann was in between contracts with Carnival Cruises and joined her colleague and friend on a road trip. “I met many of my friends in RPTM classes” she said. “I am a person who hangs out in the Student Success Center in Ford Building. I would tell other students to get to know the people in the department and in your classes. Working with Brad Keen (RPTM Instructor RPTM 410) and then this year with Dr. Thomas (Associate Teaching Professor RPTM) were some of the best parts of my education.”
How does a person from Philadelphia decide she wants to go across the country and take an internship in the north west where she knows no one? Lauren laughed. “It is kind of spooky at times being on my own, but I’m really proud of myself for doing it. It’s funny. They asked me in the interview that question and my answer was that, ‘Now is the time!’. I have nothing holding me down, so trying new experiences is now. If I hate it, I can always go home but I have the rest of my life to figure this out. I’m learning so much.”
Lauren isn’t sure what will be next after her December graduation, but she knows it will be about helping people. She’s considering graduate school in Therapeutic Recreation. “I’m a people person,” she said. “Look at my path of majors. Psychology. I was even in Education for a little while. My involvement in service orgs. I know wherever I land it will be in a position where I can give back to others.”