Lauren Briggs, Nursing


Name: Lauren Briggs

College: College of Nursing

Major: Nursing

Age: 22

Classification/Year: Senior

Hometown: Wake Forest

Hobbies/interests: Nursing, travel, reading, cooking and baking, spending quality time with family and friends



How will you take ECU with you after graduation? The past four years at ECU are filled with so many memories. My favorite memory is doing the annual Polar Plunge during my senior year with my roommates and friends. ECU has also connected me with many networking opportunities that have helped me find my dream job. I feel prepared to take the next step in my career due to the communication and relationship-building skills that ECU has fostered.

Lauren Briggs’ family moved to Wake Forest from California when she was 5, but she is a North Carolinian at heart. Her parents are both accountants. Her older brother is a data scientist, and her younger brother is studying engineering.

“They always put stress on academics and achieving so that’s why I’m a little type A. They wanted me to also become an accountant; I rebelled and went into health care instead,” Briggs said.

Her family also stressed compassion. Briggs doesn’t remember a time that her house wasn’t full of foster animals.

“We have two dogs and a cat of our own, and then we have about 10 puppies running around the house at any given time,” Briggs said. “It’s a bit of a zoo.”

When she was 10, Briggs took a trip with her family to Ecuador, which she remembers as dramatically shifting her perception of the world, and how other people live in it. Somehow before her junior year of high school, she’s still not quite sure how, she talked her parents into letting her spend three weeks on the coast of southern Spain in a study abroad program with a family that didn’t speak a word of English.

“I did language classes in the mornings and in the afternoons, I volunteered at a local Alzheimer’s clinic, so I ended up getting pretty conversational in Spanish,” Briggs remembered.

At the same time, her grandmother was in the thick of her own struggle with Alzheimer’s. Briggs’ mother was her grandmother’s primary caregiver.

“I saw the effects the disease can have, not just on the individual, but the family and the community as well. I realized then I wanted to go into health care,” Briggs said. “I wanted to make a difference.”

While she was in high school she started scouting colleges, and after learning about East Carolina University’s Honors College, she was leaning toward becoming a Pirate. When she encountered the College of Nursing’s Early Assurance program – where qualified incoming freshmen who are selected are given a guaranteed place in a nursing cohort – and was offered a place in the program, her decision was settled.

“I always had a love for teaching. I would go to the local coffee shop and tutor for community service hours,” Briggs said. “The Early Assurance program is all about creating more nurse educators and nurse researchers because there is a lack and a real need for them right now.”

During the Early Assurance interview process, Briggs met Dr. Kim Larson, the program’s then-director and a nursing research fixture at ECU. Briggs values Larson as a mentor key to her successes in nursing school.

“She had a personal interest in me since the beginning. Once I started my research, which is a requirement with the Honors College, she really took me under her wing,” Briggs said.

Larson has decades of experience partnering with health care peers in Central America and recently received a Fulbright Scholarship to study how nurses are supporting the Ukrainian diaspora across Europe that resulted from Russia’s invasion in 2022. Larson recruited Briggs to join her in Poland as a member of her Fulbright study team, collecting primary data that will support the development of training programs for European nurses caring for Ukrainian refugees.

“Lauren is a dynamic student with a passion for addressing the social and cultural factors that impact child health. She recently received an Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement award for her Signature Honors Project which shows that she is a high achieving student,” Larson said. “As importantly, though, she is a joy to be around. I know she will do great things in her future.”

ECU College of Nursing student spent a week in Poland assisting with research into how European nurses can provide culturally appropriate care for members of the Ukrainian diaspora .

ECU College of Nursing student Lauren Briggs spent a week in Poland assisting with research into how European nurses can provide culturally appropriate care for members of the Ukrainian diaspora .

Prior to travelling to Poland, Briggs and seven of her ECU nursing peers shared a virtual exchange with 11 Polish nursing students from Krakow, each side sharing their learning processes in large group discussion and then meeting with partners one-on-one in virtual spaces. Actually meeting her Polish compatriots in person was a pleasure, Briggs said.

“They were so welcoming. We walked around the city; I think we got 20,000 steps, and they showed me all their favorite places and we got to try their food. They’re very proud of their culture,” Briggs remembered. “It was just a week, but what I saw there and learned about Polish and Ukrainian culture will be with me for the rest of my career.”

After graduation, Briggs is heading back to Wake County. She already has a job waiting at WakeMed in Cary, working in the mother/baby unit and training to work in the Neonatal ICU.

“During our OB semester, I had Dr. Andrea Sessoms. She is fabulous and the passion she has for women’s health is infectious,” Briggs said. “I went into my OB clinical not really knowing and left like, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”

While Briggs is graduating as a Pirate nurse, she’s not really leaving Greenville and ECU. After graduation she’s continuing her schooling through the College of Nursing’s unique BSN to Ph.D. program, to become a researcher and nurse educator herself and teach succeeding generations of nurses.

“Nurses are the ones at the bedside, we’re the ones seeing the problems firsthand, so why are we not as involved in education and research?’ Briggs asked.

Lauren Briggs presents her research involving Ukrainian refugees at a Health Sciences research conference.

Lauren Briggs presents her research involving Ukrainian refugees at a Health Sciences research conference.

Her life is about to get very hectic – as a full-time nurse, full-time doctoral student and a full-time graduate research assistant – but she relishes the opportunity to continue to learn and grow. She credits her time at ECU with broadening her life experiences, which lead her to pursue women’s health – especially for those who are pushed to the margins of health care.

“Through ECU I realized exactly what I want to do. There is such a lack of culturally competent care,” Briggs said. “As a nurse, you’re dealing not just with the mom — it’s the baby and family, as well. What I’ve learned from ECU is going to be vital to patient satisfaction, patient success and patient safety.”

Briggs said she values the culture of excellence and concern for students built over six decades of nurse education at the College of Nursing.

“What makes ECU nursing so unique is that it truly is a community. We all want to pass together, and no one is getting left behind. The professors want to help and they care about you; you’re not just another nursing student, you’re Lauren, a nursing student,” Briggs said.