Lauren Quiniff, ’08, works as a behavioral health specialist for Spectrum Health; she provides therapy for patients and also links them to community resources to help them feel their best.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am originally from the western suburbs of Chicago. While I was at Grand Valley, I went home for the first two summers, but after that I wanted to stay in Grand Rapids year-round. My parents have now moved to West Michigan as well. I have an older sister who still lives in the Chicago area with her family. I am very close to them and make frequent trips to visit. My nieces are 7 years old and 5 months old.
What do you like to do for fun?
I love spending time with my nieces. I also make it a priority to exercise a few times a week, but I hope to work out more since I just signed up for my first 5K. As much as it feels like a social work cliché, I like to do yoga. I’m also very interested in art and usually have some kind of creative project going.
What motivates or inspires you?
My passion for working with mental health diagnoses is what motivates me the most. There are mental health resources available, but they aren’t always easy to access, especially for people who aren’t feeling their best. I know that for many patients, having someone check in with them or send them in the right direction means a lot.
My hope for the future is that as we bring mental health into our accepted forms of treatment, like primary care, we continue to work to destigmatize it.
Why did you choose Grand Valley to earn your bachelor’s degree?
I was looking at schools that offered a synchronized skating team. At the time, I was very active in figure skating. However, that wasn’t what my ultimate decision was based on. I still remember driving on campus for my first visit and having an immediate “wow” reaction. When I got my acceptance letter I nearly cried. I knew it was the right place for me.
Why did you decide to go into the health care field?
I’ve always been very interested in health care. Even when I was younger, I enjoyed TV shows that were centered around hospitals or medical issues. My first job after graduation was in health care and it was such a good fit I never left the field. I love that I can influence not only peoples’ mental health, but their physical health as well.
What do you do at Spectrum Health?
I am a behavioral health specialist in an internal medicine and pediatrics office. I provide therapy services for the patients within the practice. I also provide other social work services for patients, such as linking them to community resources and following up with them to make sure they are remaining physically and mentally healthy. I really like that my job is a hybrid between therapist and care manager, because my daily work is always changing and it keeps me updated on what resources are available to people in the community.
What made you decide to give your first gift to Grand Valley the year you graduated?
My time at Grand Valley meant a lot to me and still does. I have no idea what my life would be like if I wasn’t a Laker, but I know it wouldn’t be the same. Giving to Grand Valley allows students to have the best education possible. It’s still a privilege, not a right, to attend college and I want students to get all they can from the experience.
I see the Alumni Leadership Circle as a continuation of my desire to give back to the place that helped shape who I am today.
Why is it important to designate your gifts to both new buildings on the Health Campus?
I know that by giving to Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall and to the Daniel and Pamella DeVos Center for Interprofessional Health that I’m helping to train and support my patients’ future caregivers, and perhaps, a future co-worker. I’ve had the opportunity to see many students experience the health care field during clinical education, and it’s great to see how Grand Valley is helping these students meet their goals.
What about the Health Campus expansion excites you?
I am most excited to see the health care programs, and their students, grow and thrive. I’m also excited to see all the additional resources that can be offered to students in this new space. Health care is always changing and adapting to new technology, so education must adapt as well.
How would you encourage other alumni to give?
There are so many reasons to put off giving, or to not give at all. However, I challenge others to think about what Grand Valley has meant to them and how it has shaped their lives. How does Grand Valley touch your life? Maybe it’s in a way you might not even realize. Giving is a small gesture of thanks for all you have received from your experience at Grand Valley.