Lauren is a law student who is using her skills to help young people by answering legal questions about educational issues.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background

I grew up in Taupo, Blenheim and Wellington.  Initially I was pretty music and arts focused, but decided I wanted to study law in high school  Now I’m in my last year of law school, and also studied a BA in International Relations and French.  At the moment I’m finishing my final semester at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, and have the opportunity to participate in a child abuse legal clinic while I’m here which is amazing!

What volunteer opportunities have you been involved in or are you currently involved in?

I have been involved with the Community Justice Project since my third year at university.  For two of those years I have volunteered for their Student Rights Service project as part of the Advocacy team.  The Student Rights Service is a phone line that parents of school students and students themselves can call with any legal questions about educational issues.  I listen to their messages, research if I need to and then call them back to talk about their options.  It’s a really important service since when kids have problems at school, parents often don’t know where else to turn to get an objective response to the issue.

I’ve also been involved in the development of ‘Wagbot’ this year, a chatbot that parents and students can talk to through Facebook messenger, which has a similar scope to the Student Rights Service but gives the person their answer immediately.  I wrote the content that Wagbot gives in its conversation with users, using a Community Law manual called ‘Problems at School’ as a source for the content.  It launched in May, and now talks to people every day (mostly teenagers) about everything from whether their suspension was legal to the everyday problems they are having at school.

Why do you volunteer?

Volunteering is important because it’s a way to use whatever the skills are that you have and help people who need it.  It’s nice to know that you are making a difference, even if it’s in a small way!  Volunteering is also a great way to meet new people, and develop the skills that you’re using.

Who is your biggest hero or inspiration?

I’m inspired by so many people – anyone doing an amazing job at life, working at things they’re passionate about and helping people along the way!

What is the most important value you live by?

Cheesy but – “Not every day is good, but there’s something good in every day” 🙂

What do you love about Collaborate?

I love that Collaborate lets you find the kind of volunteering opportunities that you not only want to do, but can practically fit into your life and works with your skillsets.  It can be easy to give up on the idea of volunteering just because you can’t seem to find anything that works for you, so Collaborate is the perfect solution.  I love that it’s so easy and accessible as an app for anyone and everyone to use as well.