A ‘Glee’-ful visitor speaks at Eastern

Lauren Potter may seem different, but she is just another 23-year-old with dreams and aspirations, which came true when she received the call of a lifetime four years ago.

Potter, who has Down syndrome, plays sprightly and vivacious Becky Johnson from the TV show “Glee.”

Eagle Entertainment hosted Potter to speak to students about bullying in Showalter Auditorium on Jan. 22. Along with witty one-liners and playful banter, she stole the hearts of the crowd when she shared her amazing journey through life this far.

The crowd exploded when she first walked on stage. When the applause finally dulled down, Potter opened up by shouting a loud and proud  “Thank you, Eastern” and “Go Eagles.” This, of course, created a second round of applause.

Junior Melissa Williams thought the presentation was very funny and cute.

“She is very spunky,” said Williams.

When Potter was a young girl, she said she was dancing before she was walking. She explained that she had always wanted to be an actress and loved to be in front of the camera.

“I have been so blessed to live my dream,” Potter said. “There were those who told me I couldn’t do it, but I listened to the ones who said I could.”

She spoke about her high school years where she made light about dealing with bullies preluding with, “This is a really sad part. I hope you brought your tissues.”

“They made me eat sand and called me the R-word,” said Potter. “Bullies hurt and kill dreams. Now, I have the opportunity to speak out. ‘Glee’ gave me a voice.”

There was a pause in the speech when Potter asked the audience a question.

“How about it, Eastern Washington, will you help me end the R-word?”

For the third time, the audience whooped and hollered.

Potter now uses her voice as an ambassador for Best Buddies, a program devised to create lifetime relationships, employment opportunities and leadership development for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Her favorite part so far is being able to work with President Obama.

Tanner Wirth, who Potter later referred to as “cute boy” during the Q-and-A, said the entire presentation was very inspiring.

“She made me laugh, and I think I turned a little red,” said Wirth.

Kyle and Alaina Stevenson, who have a four-year-old son diagnosed with Down syndrome, thoroughly enjoyed the presentation.

Potter mentioned that she is now living in her own apartment and is even dating. According to Alaina Stevenson, Potter answered a few of her fears in regards to her son.

“She was very funny and impressive,” Alaina Stevenson said. “Lauren [Potter] makes me dream big for [my son] and answered a few of my biggest fears.”

When Potter was asked about her dating life during the Q-and-A session, she smiled at the crowd and said, “He’s a cutie. He’s keeper.”

Just like that, Potter continuously left the crowd laughing and wanting more, even when asked how she stays so positive.

“I am energetic and I like coffee and I like junk food,” Potter said.

All jokes aside, Potter believes that the bottom-line when it comes to bullying is that enough is enough.

“Different is different. Different is not bad,” Potter said. “I will never stop reaching for the stars and neither should you.”

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