What Makes Me Texan by Nature – Lauren Hart

I was born in Scottsdale, Arizona, surrounded by sand, cacti, and some creepy critters. Soon after I was born, my family relocated to Mckinney, Dallas where I fell in love with the concept of our backyard swimming pool. Later, we moved to Overland Park, Kansas. Kansas took my 5-year-old body into shock, I had never seen pastures so green and cows so massive. Kansas was also where I played my first soccer game, instigating a life filled with orange slices, Gatorade, and stinky shin guards.

About 4 years later, my family moved to Prague, Czech Republic. The terrain of the Czech Republic was a little less colorful than it was in Kansas, but the city was absolutely stunning. While we lived in Europe, we visited multitudes of other cities and countries, spurring my love for exploration and learning. After exploring Europe for about 2 years, we moved back to the states to Katy, Texas. Annual trips to Brennham to see the bluebonnets, hikes through Brazos bend with alligators, and popsicles dripping down my hand while sitting in the middle of our neighborhood cul-de-sac on an August day are just a few of the memories that made me Texan.

Later, we moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma for about 2.5 years, where I graduated from high school. I found myself back in Texas when I decided to attend the University of Texas at Austin in pursuit of a biology degree. I entered college with the intention of attending medical school, but that all changed when I took an economic botany course in my third year at UT. The professor for the course researched the complex chemical ecology found in Panamanian forests for several years before his interest into the vast Texas ecology brought him to UT Austin.  As chemical compounds produced within and around plants whizzed by on the lecture screen during the first day of class, I realized there was an entangled world of communication occurring around me that I wasn’t even aware of. This course shifted my career trajectory to the pursuit of a life dedicated to research focused on chemical ecology and biodiversity preservation. Additionally, this course brought my attention to the ecology of Texas, all that it offers to us, as well as all that those offer to it. I spend my time enjoying the beautiful city of Austin, as well its surrounding amenities in the hill country with a heightened awareness of the complex environmental relationships occurring around me. My awareness and appreciation for the beauty of my surroundings has grown through every move my family made, but Texas is where it flourished.

Often times, people create a box for themselves when asked, “Where are you from?”. We are all from everywhere and nowhere at the same time, and for that I am grateful. I am from the hill country bluebonnets, the farmers who feed our people, the water that flows through the Medina river, and just about everywhere else in between. These are the things that make me proud to be Texan by Nature.