University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins will present Lauren Easter
with a Centennial Achievement Award at a luncheon on Thursday, December 12.
Lauren is a senior undergraduate with a double major in law and philosophy. She is also in the University of Arizona Honors College and enrolled in the accelerated Master of Legal Studies program.
Born and raised in the Midwest, Lauren moved to Phoenix in 2009 and then to Tucson in 2016 to attend the UA. She is the single mother of a son who is autistic and she is a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault.
"After escaping my relationship, I ended up broke and homeless, but I was finally free. Since then I have dedicated my time to my son -- my first priority -- and my education, as well as advocacy work for helping individuals affected by domestic violence and sexual assault."
Lauren recently began volunteering with Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse and is looking forward to helping her local community. For the last two years, Lauren worked full-time as a supervising paralegal. She recently reduced her hours to part-time to have more availability for her son, her studies, and her advocacy. She serves on the Tucson Paralegal Association board of directors and the Pima Community College Paralegal advisory board. She also loves cooking, reading -- including LSAT study books! -- and classical music.
Lauren chose to pursue the BA in Law to build her legal knowledge and help her prepare for law school, with her underlying mission being to reduce domestic violence. She says that her favorite course so far has been Introduction to Human Rights, taught by Professor of Practice Luis Bergolla ('15). The course inspired her to learn more about the United Nations (UN), UN Women, and learn about what it takes to be an international human rights lawyer. And she says she appreciates how knowledgeable, motivating, and caring the professors at the College of Law have been, including her Honors thesis advisor Professor Simone Sepe and Professor of Practice John Alexander Erwin ('18).
She is currently working with Professor Sepe on her Honors College thesis exploring Germany's corporate governance structure, known as co-determination, and how their public policy provides women with an equal voice in the corporate world. She says that working with Professor Sepe has been a great experience.
After graduating with her BA in Law in the spring, Lauren is looking ahead toward completing the MLS, pursuing a dual JD/MBA, and possibly an LLM and Ph.D. later in life. She wants to become an advocate attorney, conducting pro-bono work for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Eventually, she envisions working as a barrister for the United Nations, "bringing international awareness to domestic violence while representing individuals from all over the world to help them gain justice and get a second chance, just like I did."
Lauren is thinking big, and long term: she aspires to one day form a national scholarship foundation for survivors and begin a nonprofit to continue her advocacy work for ending violence against women.
"With what I have learned here as a Wildcat, I hope to redefine the expectations that society holds for any woman who has been abused -- in any way -- and to help blaze a trail forward for single moms everywhere; especially women of color. I know that I can make a positive impact."
Lauren is grateful for being chosen for the Centennial Achievement Award and thankful to the BA in Law faculty and staff who supported her candidacy. The award also signals to her that the barriers and adversities she faced in the pursuit of her education have been recognized.
"I spent years of my life being told that I would be nothing and couldn't do anything without my abuser. Being a survivor has given me the power to push my limits. As a woman of color and a single mother, I have been told that the odds are against me. However, those who have said this have underestimated my will to succeed, my drive to make a difference, and the inspiration that I derive every single day from my son."
She also emphasizes her desire to "pay it forward":
"I am full of gratitude knowing that the university accepts both me and my story, and I hope that by receiving this award I will inspire more individuals like myself to chase their dreams. I want to encourage them to use their voices and their strengths ... and to utilize these unique qualities to overcome their own challenges and adversities."