Last spring, Lauren Wanko had to make one of the biggest decisions of her life in front of millions of viewers on the MTV program, “True Life.”
Wanko was chosen to become a part of the documentary series, and in this particular episode, the show followed four high school seniors as they made decisions that would impact the rest of their lives.
On “True Life,” Wanko was the high school senior that was torn between going away to school at Emerson College in Boston or going to a school closer to home. Although Wanko was accepted to all the schools she applied to, she finally chose to stay closer to home. She said she made the best decision.
“The people on my floor are great,” Wanko said. “There are just enough people, the campus is perfect.”
Wanko is now a freshman communication studies major at the College and fondly remembers her experience when MTV cameramen and producers followed her for three to four days a week over a six-month period of her life.
“I didn’t even see the promo’s for the show,” Wanko said. “It wasn’t something I thought about because the cameras became a part of my life after a while.”
Wanko attended Bayonne High School in Bayonne, N.J. She grew up in the same house her whole life – a house her mother had also lived in since she was six years old. Wanko loved to sing and perform in high school. As an active member of the drama club in high school and a performer at the PaperMill Playhouse, she performed in personal favorites such as “South Pacific.”
She also sunk her teeth in the Bayonne television channel, which is known in the community as BenTV.
“It was an amazing opportunity,” Wanko said. “I could leave school and field report. I hosted my own show – I hosted pieces and I edited. It was a great foundation for me to do what I wanted to do.”
So far, Wanko loves life at the College, especially living in the Towers.
“Everyone is experiencing the same thing, everyone is together and there are so many people in the Towers,” Wanko said. “You can go up five floors and someone will still understand exactly what you are going through.”
“I’m experiencing my freshman year with over a thousand other freshmen who totally understand. And because most of us are from New Jersey, we had a common ground and I love it,” she added.
Wanko is already dedicated to her communication studies major and media background. She has joined the College radio station WTSR and the Journal, the College’s television station.
“The oppurtunies are here for me,” she said. “I read the news for WTSR and field report for the Journal already,” Wanko said. “I’m not sure that other schools would have allowed me to do all that so quickly.”
Wanko said she never realized so many people watched MTV, until many students recognized her from the show.
“I don’t have time to watch that much television so it was completely unexpected,” she said. “I got my hair highlighted right before I came to school and some complete stranger recognized me and said, ‘Hey, you colored your hair’ and I was hoping that people would think it was natural,” Wanko said with friendly laughter.
However, Wanko’s mother was a little upset that nobody recognizes her from the show. Wanko said her mom even asked a few people during move-in day whether they remembered her from the show.
Most of Wanko’s closest friends from the College had not seen the program over the summer, so they didn’t understand why so many people recognized Wanko while walking to dining halls and classes.
“They want me to send up the tape from home, but I refuse,” Wanko said.