Lauren Budzich, Senior, Lancaster High School Academy of Finance 2015
My name is Lauren Budzich, and I am a graduating senior at Lancaster High School’s Academy of Finance in Lancaster, NY. Because of NAF, I have been exposed to a world outside the walls of my high school – this is a priceless competitive edge. The NAF Academy of Finance prepared me for both college and my future career, but more importantly, it helped me build confidence. Although I consider myself an extrovert, when I was younger, an articulation delay challenged my ability to speak aloud. This forced me to work on this skill even harder. By the time I reached NAF courses, I was required to present in front of my class on a regular basis, and now, here I am in front of all of you!
This growing confidence is what allowed me to take full advantage of my NAF academy. Even though I attend the Academy of Finance, my teachers and advisory board exposed me to a variety of different industries. I had the unique experience of seeing the intersection of business and healthcare, showing me the real need for STEM skills for all students, regardless of their chosen field.
After having job shadows at a hospital and a pharmaceutical company, I secured a paid internship at Catholic Health System, which runs several hospitals in the Buffalo area. At my internship, I sat in on executive team meetings, allowing me to see first-hand what it takes to run one of the largest healthcare systems in the country. I also served as a member of the enterprise resource planning team, focusing on implementing new software, shadowing labor union negotiations, and developing multiple strategic initiatives that were presented to the CEO committee for consideration.
This experience, combined with my academy coursework, motivated me to an ambitious goal: becoming the CEO of a fortune 500 healthcare company.
I haven’t wasted any time in pursuing my dream.
Over the past few months, I have pitched an original idea to investors and VC funds called MedChat, my idea for a HIPPA compliant, “Twitter for Doctors.” I have already won two business plan competitions, and I am ready to take this to the next level and grow my business next year.
NAF led me to these goals in more ways than one. Last year, I had a life-changing experience at this very event, where I learned the power of networking. I met NAF Board member and 2014 honoree, Alex Gorsky, who is the CEO of Johnson & Johnson. Like a true NAF professional, I emailed him to follow up after the event. I was delighted when he responded with support and advice on everything from getting into college to breaking into the C-suite. Today, I still speak to Mr. Gorsky often, and I consider him a mentor.
In the professional experiences afforded to me through NAF, I have grown passionate about inspiring others – particularly young women – to do more and to learn more. I feel strongly about closing the equality and prominence gap for women in the business world, and I know that my NAF education will help me be part of the solution.
As President of my Academy, it is my goal and duty to ensure my 200 classmates have the same academy opportunities I had, which will continue to pay dividends throughout a lifetime. Being a leader is a responsibility, and I am grateful for the leaders and corporate partners in the room that support and serve as role models for NAF students nationwide.