Lauren Hawkinson is not used to being in the spotlight.
Her career as an athletic trainer has literally pushed her to the sidelines — including the sidelines of the now-dominant UNC women's lacrosse team’s first national championship win in 2013, when Hawkinson was working with the team as a master’s student in exercise and sport science.
But her recent election to president of the Graduate and Professional Student Government means that she has some adjusting to do.
“Athletic trainers — we sit at the end of the bench, and we do the rehab off the field, and we're there if they need us, but the athletes are front and center,” Hawkinson said. “So I think it's going to take some getting used to being ‘the face.’”
Hawkinson was initially hesitant about running for the president position during the final year of her Ph.D. program. But as election day was fast approaching and there were no official candidates on the ballot, she decided to throw in her name as a write-in.
“I want to make sure I have enough time for research and things like that, but it's also something that I really care about,” Hawkinson said. “I didn't want to completely be done with GPSG yet.”
Despite her insistence that she's spent much of her educational and professional career in the background, Hawkinson has never strayed far from involvement in government affairs and advocacy work.
She graduated from her UNC master’s program in 2014, and spent six years training athletes at the University of Richmond and the University of Wisconsin-Madison before returning to UNC in 2020 to pursue her Ph.D.
During that time, she served on the boards of various athletic training associations. At UW-Madison, Hawkinson helped with successful lobbying efforts to pass updates to athletic training certification and qualification requirements in the state legislature.