MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN/PRESS RELEASE) – An endowed scholarship has been established at Northern Michigan University in memory of Ben Lauren, an NMU alumnus who was killed in the line of duty as a volunteer firefighter at the age of 23.
Lauren’s family created the scholarship to support NMU’s mechanical engineering technology students, a program that Lauren graduated from in 2018.
“Ben loved the education he received at Northern,” said his dad, Ron, who earned a financial management degree from NMU in 1997. “All of the professors were helpful and loved having him in class. Ben loved the department, too. Before he even graduated, he had a job at Verso paper in Escanaba. He started there on the Monday after commencement. We figured this scholarship was a good way to give back and keep his legacy going.”
On March 13, 2020, Lauren and others were dispatched to a structure fire at a duplex. A floor collapsed while he was inside and he died at the scene. Lauren was a third-generation volunteer firefighter for Forsyth Township. He joined the department as a cadet at age 14, was certified as a firefighter at 18, and became a captain at 22.
“Ben was dedicated to helping others and determined to pay for his education,” said his mom, Carla. “During his years at NMU, he was either working, studying, or at the Forsyth Fire Hall. He had positive interactions with his engineering instructors and often commented that he viewed them as friends and could contact them even after graduation. The only times he ever skipped class were due to work or for a fire call. He would text his instructors and let them know of his absence. It is the assistance of others that alleviates our pain over losing Ben.”
The Ben Lauren Memorial Foundation also provides monetary support and grants to local youth livestock and 4-H programs, as well as first responders. It recently donated a thermal imaging camera to the Marquette County Rescue 131 team. The camera is capable of detecting fallen firefighters and victims in house fires. It will also be able to detect hot spots or sources of a fire, which Ron said is crucial to saving more lives.
For information on NMU scholarships and giving opportunities, visit foundation.nmu.edu.