The counselor from abroad


By using her past experience from college and jobs, Lauren Watkins, Etowah’s newest counselor, has made it her goal to better connect to her students. Attending the University of West Georgia, studying abroad in Belize, and working at Disney before settling down as a counselor in Woodstock, Georgia, Watkins feels that her experiences have helped her understand Etowah’s diverse student body.  

Watkins first learned the importance of acceptance in Belize when she saw how the children interacted with one another in school. While there, she had the opportunity to go home with a student and eat dinner with their family. Watkins felt grateful for what she had, as Belize had fewer advancements in education and smaller homes compared to the United States. 

“When I was in Belize, I saw how different their learning standards were and how they had fewer resources to utilize in the classroom. [Belize] gave me a new appreciation for the American education system,” Watkins said. 

While working at Disney, Watkins was surrounded by people from all walks of life. She discussed with the guests and coworkers about the similarities and differences of what was available to their unique communities, submerging herself in diverse cultures from around the world.  

“Working at Disney provided me the opportunity to meet individuals from all over the world and listen to them speak in their native language while also asking questions about their culture,” Watkins said. 

Through her experiences and extensive traveling, Watkins has become more open-minded and aware of the unseen struggles in her students’ lives. She considers herself to be a trusted person that students can talk to. Although counselors mainly focus on helping kids identify their goals for the future, she also strives to be a friend to all. 

“I just want to be one more person who can help through the process,” Watkins said. 

Watkins now encourages her students to study abroad so that they can experience various cultures just as she did. Those who are interested in learning more about how to apply for a study abroad position can schedule an appointment with Watkins here