“Hakuna Matata” is the quote that guides Lauren through life. In spite of all the ups and downs we all experience, this quote always lifts her up. She has it tattooed on her foot as a reminder; it helps Lauren center herself and strategize solutions rather than waste time worrying.
Lauren’s involvement at UNH began before she even stepped foot on campus as a first-year student. She grew up locally, attending Oyster River High School, and chose to attend UNH because she knew the school had a lot to offer her during her four years. Lauren got her first taste of UNH during her senior year of high school, and once she arrived on campus for her freshmen year she dove head first into all that UNH has to offer.
While in high school, Lauren took an Anthropology class and loved it. She declared Anthropology as her major and once on campus she added Women’s Studies as a second major. She felt that her love for Women’s Studies was always in her heart, but had never really surfaced itself. Lauren was heavily influenced by her friends and faculty from the Women’s Studies department. After declaring her second major, UNH became a really necessary outlet for Lauren to be herself and express her beliefs.
When asked what courses she has learned the most from while at UNH, Lauren said, “every Women’s Studies course I’ve taken.” Each course offered her a different perspective, she took classes on film and literary analysis, and she was able to connect her Women’s Studies courses with what she was learning in her Anthropology courses. She had the unique opportunity of looking at women’s issues in the US and other cultures, which translated into a wonderful learning experience while she was abroad in Chile in the spring of 2012. While abroad, Lauren’s education focused on public health, traditional medicine, and community empowerment. Her senior thesis is a culmination of the research she did in Chile and the research she completed here in the U.S.
Lauren has had internships at many local nonprofits, such as NARAL Pro-Choice NH and the Joan G. Lovering Health Center. Lauren was awarded the John G. Winant Fellowship, which allowed her to spend the summer interning at NARAL Pro-Choice NH. Even before her internship with NARAL Pro-Choice NH she was campaigning for the organization. She brought the BC4ME (Birth Control 4 Me) campaign, a public education and mobilization effort that sought to secure no-cost birth control in the new health-care system, to UNH. She spent hours tabling around campus and educating students about the issue.
In May of Lauren’s first year, she joined the President’s Commission on the Status of Women as a student representative. She was nominated for the commission by Dawn Zitney, who Lauren says has been very influential during her time at UNH. Lauren views Dawn as a role model because she is independent, passionate, spicy, fierce, and confident. Dawn helped Lauren raise $10,000 to bring anti-violence lecturer Jackson Katz to speak at UNH and she connected Lauren with her internship at the Joan G. Lovering health center. Lauren views Dawn as a “feminist ally” and according to Lauren, “Dawn helped me discover my passion for reproductive freedom and justice for all women.”
On top of all of Lauren’s experiential learning, she has also been extremely involved in the campus community. She has been an active member in the UNH Peace and Justice League and UNH SEAC (Student Environmental Action Coalition), serving as the Business Manager of SEAC in her sophomore year and more recently as the Organizational Resource Director on SAFC (Student Activity Fee Committee). Lauren’s passion for activism allowed her to plan several events including bringing several social justice speakers to campus, protesting trips across the country, and co-founding the Trash 2 Treasure initiative. Lauren helped create a new student organization called UNH VOX during her senior year, which seeks to educate, empower, activate, and unite the voices within the UNH community regarding contemporary feminist issues, including but not limited to reproductive justice, sexual freedom, gender equality, and body image.
When asked what advice she would offer other UNH students, Lauren says, “get involved, find your niche, and discover your passion.” Lauren wants other students to take advantage of UNH and make it the best four years they can. She recommends branching out of your comfort zone and finding what inspires you the most. Lauren feels fortunate to have found that inspiration for herself at UNH and credits her compassionate nature for other people and her sociable personality with her success here.
Looking back on her four years at UNH, Lauren will always remember the feeling she gets from organizing and activating the people around her. She loves that rush of adrenaline and the butterflies she gets in her stomach every time she leads a march or speaks at a rally. Lauren wants to remember that sensation because it will be a constant reminder that you have the power to bring together a passionate group of people to accomplish a goal.
After graduation, Lauren wants to work in a local health clinic, and eventually apply for graduate school so she can earn her Master’s in Public Health at some point. She wants to work in health education, advocacy, and administration. In ten years, Lauren knows she will have her Master’s finished, be working towards her doctorate, and hopes to have a job with the Guttmacher Institute, whose focus is on advancing sexual and reproductive health through research, policy analysis and public education.
2012 - 2013 CYOS Honorees: (left to right) Brittany Zorn, Laura Gardocki, Peter Callahan, Merhawi Wells-Bogue, Molly Hunt, Larry Rackliff, Lauren Banker, Ben Claxton, Alex Freid, Jihyon Im