Honors Alumni Spotlight
"The Honors Program prepared me—not just for a career—but for life."
Lauren Butler, M.F.A.
B.A. in Theatre, B.S. in Psychology | Class of 2010
Lauren Butler’s life took a new path recently after completing a two-year international touring contract with Missoula Children’s Theatre in Missoula, Montana.
Since then, Butler has moved to the central California town of Cayucos where she and her partner opened a business called Yes, Lemonade, which is currently operating at four farmers markets in San Luis Obispo County. “We make hand-crafted beverages and craft cocktail starters from all local ingredients,” Butler said. “We’re expanding quickly and are now bottling our beverages for local retail locations.”
Today, Butler is marketing her business while keeping her hand in the performing arts as an actress, vocalist, and private instructor teaching voice and acting.
“Creating, owning, and operating my own business has been incredibly exciting and challenging. The craft beverage industry might seem to have no relation to theatre, but I have used my theatre skills in countless ways. Customer service requires acting skills most of the time, as does networking and with other business owners and marketing my product.
“My years working with Margaret Ledford in the scene shop [at NSU’s theatre program] have been invaluable. I have been able to do all of the jobs requiring power tools and technical savvy all on my own, which means I don’t have to hire someone to help me get my business up and running. Acquiring skills that allow you to do something on your own feels great, but I never forget the people who took the time to teach me those skills, especially those at NSU.
“As a member of the Honors Program, I felt a sense of community and pride. It is a privilege to count yourself amongst the incredible students who make up the Honors Program. These students are already highly motivated, and I found that being a part of the group kept me striving for more because I was surrounded by such an incredible group of people.
“At NSU, I was fortunate to receive individualized attention from my professors and close-knit relationships with my peers, thanks to the small-class sizes and participation in the Honors Program. The program helped me connect with both professors and students and advance my studies outside the classroom—particularly through internships, research opportunities, and clubs. Thanks to the relationships I formed at NSU, I continued to further my pursuits knowing that I had faculty members and peers to help support me."
“Lauren was pivotal in NSU’s first musical production ever: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” said Bill J. Adams, D.M.A., associate professor at the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. "She was Cinderella and she stepped into the role, pun intended, with sheer determination. Her portrayal of this iconic heroine mirrored her approach to everything she did—sensitive, intelligent, and strong."
“Lauren demonstrated a passion for the theatre and a desire to do all she could to be a collaborative member of either the classroom or rehearsal hall," said Mark Duncan, M.F.A., associate professor at the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences who chairs the Department of Performing and Visual Arts. "She was always prepared and an active participant in both the classroom and rehearsals. Lauren’s drive for success is obvious in her work ethic. She is an exceptional leader and artist."
“NSU and the Honors Program fueled my leadership and networking skills and prepared me not just for a career, but for life," Butler said. "The skills I gained are not part of a typical classroom experience but they are essential for any career path. I was lucky to be surrounded by outstanding students and faculty who supported and inspired me to achieve more.
“There are so many opportunities in research, study abroad, and extra-curricular activities that will help shape you and help you connect with the community. The opportunities are there, especially for an Honors student. The Honors Program opened doors for me.
“I never imagined myself as a business owner but now I feel right at home. I believe the faculty, staff, and study body at NSU were essential in leading me to where I am today. My success is a testament to the skills I gained at NSU—they are applicable to so many disciplines and pursuits.
“I hope to continue to expand my business and continue pursuing my passion for theatre and the performing arts in my new community. I am confident that no matter what my future holds I’ll navigate it successfully, and I’ll always have support from my NSU family.”