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Lauren Little

Master of Business Administration student
Raymond J. Harbert College of Business

Lauren Little of Decatur, Ala., graduated in May with a degree in human development and family studies from the College of Human Sciences. She was one of the first students at Auburn to complete the requirements necessary for a new minor in philanthropy and nonprofit studies. Little also earned an international minor in human sciences by participating in the Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy program, a 12-week study abroad program based in Ariccia, Italy. During her senior year, Little served as president of the Committee of 19 at Auburn and interned with the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project, teaching a hunger studies course to inmates. She is currently an MBA student in the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business.

1. Why did you choose Human Development and Family Studies at Auburn?

Coming into Auburn as a freshman, I, like many other freshmen, didn't know exactly what I wanted my career to be. I did know that I wanted to work with people and that I had a passion for helping those in need. Human development and family studies seemed like a perfect fit because it's a major where you get to learn all about people. I never once took a class for my major that I thought was irrelevant, and I was constantly learning information that could be applied not only in a professional setting but also right now in my everyday life and in my relationships. Once I was in the College of Human Sciences, I quickly realized that every single faculty and staff member shared my heart for people and wanted to get to know me, to help me and to invest in my future. Having people like that around me all the time was a huge help during my undergrad years.

2. Why did you want to have an international minor and a minor in philanthropy and nonprofit studies?

I wanted the international minor because I love to travel and I think it's important to have an understanding of different cultures, and more importantly of how to interact with and relate to people from different cultures. It was a huge plus that I got the minor by living in Italy for a summer through the Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy program. It was easily the best and most exciting summer of my life. We lived in a palace, took classes in Italian cooking, art and culture, went on weekly field trips all around Italy, and on the weekends we traveled to Paris, Switzerland, Barcelona, Venice and tons of other places. It was an incredible experience.

I wanted a minor in philanthropy and nonprofit studies because I am really interested in nonprofit organizations and the role of philanthropy in the lives of individuals and the corporate world. I think we all have a responsibility to give back, but that giving doesn't have to be a burden. I learned how to develop a purpose for my giving, how philanthropy could be beneficial to the recipient as well as the donor and how nonprofits can build a strong foundation from which they can accomplish their goals and really make a difference in the lives of others.

3. What got you involved in the Committee of 19 at Auburn?

When I heard about the committee my sophomore year, I became really interested in their work and quickly got involved. I loved my time with the committee. It taught me one of the most valuable lessons that I learned at Auburn: that every single one of us has something that we can do, some talent, skill, experience, connection, ability-something that is unique to us that we can use to make a difference in someone else's life, and it is only when we all come together bringing our individual skills that the world's biggest problems, like hunger, can begin to be solved. Hunger is a huge, complex problem and the solutions will likewise be multifaceted and come from all different kinds of people and fields. In the Committee of 19, I watched students come together and use the things that they knew how to do to literally change lives. It was a powerful experience.

4. Hunger Studies is gaining popularity at Auburn and you taught the basic course this year in the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project. What was it like interning for the program and sharing what you know about hunger?

My experience with APAEP was incredible and impactful, and definitely like nothing else I have ever done before at Auburn. As part of my internship with APAEP, I taught the Intro to Hunger Studies class at Elmore Correctional Facility. It's a slightly modified version of the same hunger studies class taught at Auburn, covering the causes, consequences and solutions to hunger locally and globally. Being able to teach the class and watch my students learn about hunger and begin to really care about the issue was incredible. I watched the same lights come on in their heads that I remember coming on in mine a few years earlier. They taught me about food insecurity because many of them had experienced it and have families who are experiencing it now. It was inspiring to watch them become passionate, challenging to watch them struggle with their response to what they had learned, and so rewarding to see them realize that each of them, no matter the situation, has the ability to do something to make a difference and help others. My students realized this and took action, despite the fact that they are all incarcerated. They are a huge inspiration to me to take advantage of every opportunity I have to be impactful and help others. I would encourage every Auburn student to do the same.

5. What's next for you?

Since I wasn't quite ready to leave Auburn, I enrolled in the Master of Business Administration program. It's definitely quite a shift to go from human development to business, but I learned during my philanthropy and nonprofit studies minor how much the nonprofit sector and humanitarian movements could benefit from some basic business skills and knowledge. So I'm hoping that I will be able to bring those business skills and knowledge to the table and use them to increase the impact of nonprofits and humanitarian organizations. I'm also getting married in December.

I'm still not exactly sure what I want to be or where I will be after I graduate, but I would really love to be a consultant for nonprofits to help them have the basic business principles and foundations needed to go out into the world and have the biggest impact possible. While I'm not sure exactly how I will do this, I do know that my life will always be about loving others as Jesus loves them and choosing to always do whatever I can to make a difference in the lives of people.

Aug. 19, 2013