To Lauren Stark '23 a well-designed car is a thing of beauty.
Stark comes from what she calls "a car family." She grew up near Dallas, Texas, where she attended car races and car shows and worked on project cars with her mom, dad, and older brother.
She is fascinated by car design. "They are like works of art to me," she says.
She grew up learning how cars work from the inside out. At home, Stark works on her two Mercedes show cars, a 1956 190SLs and a 2018 C300. Experience with similar cars that are generations apart helped cultivate her interest in design. She likes the idea of building the next generation of cars.
Stark balances that desire with a passionate concern for the environment. She knows that upcoming generations of vehicles need to minimize use of petroleum, a nonrenewable energy source, and lessen emissions of greenhouse gases. She wants to design cars that are both beautiful and sustainable.
Along with her love of cars, Stark's family instilled in her the value of passionately pursuing her goals.
"My parents wanted to raise a strong woman," says Stark.
Her mother especially taught her not to let obstacles stand in her way.
Stark also attended an all-girls high school where she felt empowered. She read voraciously and learned to code through computer science courses and hack-a-thon events.
It turned out that her diverse interests—coding, cars, and environmentalism—meshed nicely. They eventually led Stark to a major in electrical engineering at Notre Dame.
In her college search, Stark looked at schools with strong STEM programs. "I visited one after another that were just homogenous and it seemed like all they cared about was test scores," she says. But when she visited Notre Dame's campus after being admitted, she knew she had found the right fit.
"[Notre Dame] had good STEM programs, plus passionate and compassionate students," she says. She also appreciated the University's open dialogues about diversity and the resources available through Multicultural Student Programs and Services.
"It seemed like there were a lot of ways to get involved and feel supported," says Stark.
She found that to be true as a first-year student.
During her first year, Stark took Introduction to Engineering and Embedded Systems courses. She joined the Formula SAE Hybrid Racing Club, in which students build a car that competes in the National Hybrid Competition. She took a Feminist Philosophy in Science Fiction course and is now considering a gender studies minor. She attended a talk given by Laura Schwab '95, the first female president of Aston Martin the Americas.
All of these experiences, plus the good friends Stark has made, have affirmed that Notre Dame was the right choice for a car-loving coder who wants to make a difference in the world.
“Notre Dame provides a place for all my passions to exist freely and to grow passionately," says Stark. "I feel at home when I’m on campus and ready to be challenged in all the rights ways."
Check out the video above, where Lauren Stark '23 talks about her Notre Dame experiences and the path that led to her home under the Dome.