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Student speaker was always ahead of the rest

Lauren Lewis

If you’re Lauren Lewis, why wait?

That’s her secret to graduating from Tidewater Community College at 18 years old. A month after walking in the college’s 69th Commencement Exercises on Dec. 16, she’ll transfer to Norfolk State University where she’ll be awarded junior status. Lewis, graduating with her Associate of Science in Social Sciences, is the student speaker for the graduates.

“We all have assignments we want to wait until the last minute to complete,” she’ll tell the class of 2019. “The key is don’t procrastinate.”

“With TCC as your foundation,” she says, “you can go anywhere,” — Lauren Lewis

Let’s just say Lewis comes by this wisdom naturally. Her parents had her reading by the time she was 2 years old. She devoured one Junie B. Jones book after another, adding the “Wimpy Kid” collection to her shelf in middle school.

“I’m really goal-oriented,” she admits, offering a snapshot of her thought process from her phone. It’s one of many to-do lists with deadlines. This particular one is academic-related with due dates for applications for NSU’s nursing program and summer classes. The final sentence from the checklist:

GRADUATION in Summer 2022 but can’t walk until December 2022

Lewis’ accelerated academic path started in the most inauspicious of ways. She didn’t want to dress out for gym at Churchland High, so her family agreed to pay for her to take it during her eighth-grade summer. That made Lewis realize how much she could achieve by using her summers wisely. She completed First College on the Portsmouth Campus and entered TCC with 16 credits.

She was 16 years old.

Lewis received the Outstanding High School Graduate Award Scholarship from the Portsmouth Campus. That pays the full cost of tuition and fees; in return, Lewis is a student ambassador. She will graduate from TCC without any student debt.

Lewis considered being a pediatrician but wants to be more hands-on with patients. “Being a pediatric nurse will allow me to do that,” she said.

Not surprisingly, Lewis is already looking ahead to 2020, planning out her class schedule so it balances with a part-time job. Another to-do list holds her accountable for a rare splurge: She’s saving for a Caribbean cruise in May. She makes sure she contributes to that fund on the 5th day of every month.

That might mean forgoing a latte or two, but Lewis is intent on nothing impeding her path once she sets her mind to it.

“It’s good to be different,” her mom always told her. Lewis lives by those words and can’t wait to get started with the next step of her journey.

“With TCC as your foundation,” she says, “you can go anywhere.”