The talented Miss Strohbehn

Academics, art, athletics all part of SCPA senior Lauren Strohbehn’s life

St. Croix Preparatory Academy senior Lauren Strohbehn poses in front of one of her works which is proudly displayed in the school office.
St. Croix Preparatory Academy senior Lauren Strohbehn poses in front of one of her works which is proudly displayed in the SCPA school office. (Gazette photo by Avery Cropp)

Lauren Strohbehn is the artist of her life. An athlete with great academics and an award-winning artist, the St. Croix Preparatory Academy senior is about to head off on her next adventure at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., where she plans to study biology.

“I’ve known Lauren since she came to school in fourth grade and ever since she was nine or 10, she’s had this determination and diligence and has been interested in knowledge for knowledge’s sake. She’s tireless in many ways and has an insatiable thirst for learning,” said art teacher Anna Maakestad, who Strohbehn says she’s quite close with.

It helps that Maakestad and Strohbehn both are passionate about art.

“One of my passions is art. I even thought about going into it for a job but I’ve done pieces of art for other people and they’ve felt more like work than fun, so I think I’m going to do biology and just keep art as a hobby,” Strohbehn said.

Strohbehn has been first in the Doodle 4 Google competition in the last two years, but hasn’t made it to the final 10 selected from across the country.  Her art has won awards at the Washington County and the Minnesota State fairs and one of her works is displayed proudly in the SCPA office.

“It’s really fun to go and see your work and wonder what you’re going to get,” Strohbehn said. “The county fair isn’t quite as big a scale, but you get to see all the art. Some of it is done by art majors and it’s just amazing to see all the different stuff. It’s really inspiring and helps me get ideas. I’ll look at something and think ‘I hadn’t thought of that.’ ”

Strohbehn said she loves art because she likes working with her hands. She prefers to use colored pencil and pen and paint because she likes working with bright colors.

“I haven’t gotten into painting as much because the equipment is so expensive, but with drawing all you need is paper and pencils,” Strohbehn said.

Maakestad said Strohbehn’s art skills are well beyond many other students in Maakestad’s class.

“As I’ve watched Lauren come in, she has just expanded and developed wonderful skills, and creativity is the thing that really defines her. I look at her work and with each lesson she pushes it to the farthest possible challenge that she can.” Maakestad said.

When Strohbehn was asked why she chose biology over art, her answer came quickly.

“Both of my parents majored in biology and I’ve always been interested in how things work. In biology, creation is so amazing to me and I like to figure out how things function,” she said. “My favorite part of biology is looking in the microscopes. I love animals too, so it fits with biology as well.”

Although Strohbehn isn’t planning on being a veterinarian, she would like to do research, one of the main draws of her major.

Strohbehn hopes to be one of 20 first-year students who are taking a class called Phage Research Hunters, which is part of the national genomic research initiative. It lets first-year students make real scientific discoveries with biology sequencing and includes techniques from across biology, including microbiology, molecular biology, genomics, ecology, biomedicine, global health/sustainability and bioinformatics. In addition, Calvin College offers its students faith-based learning.

If it sounds challenging, Strohbehn is certainly up to it. She’s taken numerous Advanced Placement classes and had considered going to PSEO, but opted to stay at SCPA to be with her friends. She knows her freshman year at Calvin will take some adjusting.

“I’m going to miss all my friends. Since I’m going so far away, it will be like starting from scratch but I’ll really miss the friends and teachers that I’m close with,” she said. “The atmosphere, too, All the kids are really great here, but I’ll be able to do more than I have been which will be great.”

When it comes to what made the most impact on Strohbehn during her time at SCPA, she said it’s the sports she participated in. Strohbehn started on the volleyball team then switched to cross country and archery shortly after ninth grade. She’s gone to archery nationals three times and said the sport has given her character and allowed her to manage her time well. Her advice for other students: work hard, study hard and play hard, too.

Multiple SCPA teachers said Strohbehn was the best of the best when it came to their students. Her kindness, tenacity and compassion have inspired many of them.

“She’s just got a kindness and tenacity and compassion and as a teacher, I’ve learned so much from her. Teaching her has made me better at my job, a better human being and I always make sure when she’s in my class that it challenges her and the other students enough.” Maakestad said.

When Maakestad was asked what advice she had for Strohbehn as she started her new chapter she said:

“Follow your dreams, keep sight of your true passion, be true to who you are, because you have such strength wisdom and compassion, which is what this world needs,” Maakestad said. “You will go on to do amazing work in whatever field you pursue, and of course, I hope you will always, always, always, keep creating beautiful works of art for your own joy and for the joy of others.”

Strobehn's Google 4 Doodle has won first place for the past few years in Minnesota but has not been named one of the top 10 entries nationally. (photo submitted by Lauren Strohbehn)
Strohbehn’s Google 4 Doodle has won first place for the past few years in Minnesota but has not been named one of the top 10 entries nationally. (photo submitted by Lauren Strohbehn)

St. Croix Preparatory Academy’s 2013 commencement is 3 p.m. June 9 in the SCPA gymnasium.