Student, Athlete, Rescuer: Bringing it All Together at UMD

Helping underserved communities is extremely motivating for biology major, athlete, and search-and-rescue volunteer.

Lauryn Renier’s journey to UMD was anything but typical. At 16 years old, she was flying home from a college visit in California when foul weather diverted her plane to Duluth. She took the opportunity to spend a day with extended family who lived in town. They went to the shores of Lake Superior and saw ships in the canal, explored Hartley Park, and she saw the UMD campus nearby. Despite growing up in Rochester, Minnesota, having family in Duluth, and an interest in rural medicine, UMD hadn’t even been on her radar.

“From that moment on, I was pretty hooked on this area,” Renier said. “I just loved the sense of community. To be able to go out my back door and take a hike, or see other people out enjoying nature was really important to me in picking where I went to college.” Renier is now in her third year at UMD, pursuing a bachelors of science in biology, and minoring in chemistry and psychology, while also racing on the cross country and track teams. She’s also found her ultimate goal, “to eventually serve as a physician in emergency rural medicine, or rural family practice.”

Health Care Starts at Home

Renier’s mother grew up in rural Montana, a place the family visits often. “Seeing what has happened to some of those communities with the lack of health care is really what has driven me towards the rural health care route,” Renier said.

Helping those underserved communities is extremely motivating for Renier and she’s seen the impact it can have firsthand. “There have been some new doctors out in the area my mom grew up in,” said Renier, “and they have made a phenomenal difference in the health of the area.”

Volunteering in EMS

It's a pretty phenomenal feeling to know that you've helped somebody or you will be able to bring closure to someone or their family.
Lauryn Renier

Aside from laying the groundwork toward the goal of caring for her community, Renier has also found the opportunity to get direct experience. “I volunteer with the St. Louis County Rescue Squad,” said Renier. A part of the Sheriff’s department, the rescue squad provides 24 hour on-call search and rescue and other emergency services throughout northern Minnesota.

Made up of all volunteers, the rescue squad provides a place for Lauryn to grow her skills in a variety of areas, including medicine. She holds both an EMT and wilderness-EMT certification. “We are the first line of response for small townships that don't have any emergency medical services,” said Renier. She recognizes the challenges that come with these life and death situations, and remaining ready and engaged in the many activities on her schedule.



Putting Passion into Practice

Her work with the rescue squad is another one of her commitments alongside the challenges of school and sports, but she finds the experiences, and the rewards worthwhile. “If you're pursuing things that you're really passionate about and that have a lot of value to you, the stress of it all becomes a lot more manageable,” said Renier. “I think it would be very different if I was pursuing things that didn't hold as much value in my heart and in my future goals.”

Now Renier has her sights set on the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Duluth campus, and that focus on rural medicine. “They place a lot of emphasis on rural communities, especially in northern Minnesota. And I really think that that could be a good path for me.”

It’s a realization that’s grown organically, through the connections she’s forged here in the Twin Ports region, and the support she’s received from those around her.

“I think that the combination of people I've met in the athletic department and the Biology Department and in the community surrounding UMD have brought everything together for me on this path,” said Renier. “I feel like this is my authentic calling and not anything that has been forced. That's a big reflection of the community here.”