Lauren Harris exemplifies the student who is highly involved across campus. During her time at Illinois State, she has pushed for progress through her many roles at the University.
The senior political science major and African-American studies minor has taken full advantage of the opportunities to gain political and leadership experience as a Redbird. She has been involved with the Student Government Association (SGA) for three years and was elected as the Student Body president last spring. She is also a member of the Black Student Union (BSU). In each of these roles, Harris has established herself as a campus champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion. On top of those roles, she has worked for Career Services as a career ambassador, where she helps students prepare for their job searches.
This school year has taught Harris the importance of taking care of herself while she balances her many responsibilities. She stresses the importance of self-care for other students, as well.
“Continue to give yourself grace,” said Harris. “These are challenging times for everyone; remember that you’re not alone in that. It’s important to take breaks when you need to.”
Earlier this month, University Marketing and Communications senior photographer Lyndsie Schlink followed Harris through a typical day in her life as a Redbird.
To start her day, Harris works the front desk of the Career Services Resource Hub located in the Bone Student Center. Her friend Lexi Boberg, a student worker for Diversity Advocacy, stopped by to check out the new space.
“The resource hub is a new area for students to come get their resume printed and get business cards,” Harris said.
After working the front desk of the resource hub, Harris transitions to an office to fulfill her other duties as a career ambassador.
“I do drop-ins with students, which is where they can virtually come into our Hire-A-Redbird system and get an appointment set up to meet with one of the career ambassadors,” said Harris. “We will go over their resume with them and make suggestions for different changes that they can make based on Career Services’ recommendations.”
Harris has been a career ambassador since January of last year. She has appreciated the opportunity to set her fellow students up for success.
“It’s been a really great experience,” said Harris. “We all go to college with the intent of getting a job postgraduation, and Career Services really makes sure that happens through ensuring that students are presenting documents that are precise and correct for future employers to look through.”
After her shift, Harris heads to the coronavirus (COVID-19) testing facility on campus. She wanted to ensure that she was healthy before traveling home to visit her family in Bolingbrook.
For lunch, Harris stops at the Bone Student Center’s new food venue, Star Ginger. She orders a rice bowl with teriyaki chicken.
“I think Star Ginger is really good,” said Harris. “I’ve already been there a few times since it opened.”
Harris brings her lunch home to her apartment, where she takes a moment to unwind and enjoy her food before taking on the rest of her day.
After lunch, Harris attends a meeting to discuss the Multicultural Center renovation progress.
“The meeting was with the vice president of Student Affairs, and our guest was Dr. Christa Platt, the director of the Multicultural Center,” said Harris. “I think that meeting was really good. I know a lot of students are looking forward to the Multicultural Center and want to know more about it, and they provided a lot of insight.”
After the Multicultural Center meeting, Harris attends Elements of Mathematical Reasoning class. Harris has three other classes this semester, and they are all being held remotely due to the pandemic.
“I think learning virtually has been an adjustment, and I think it will continue to be an adjustment for people as we all learn more,” said Harris. “Personally, I’ve been able to manage pretty well since I’m mostly online when it comes to work that I do. Sometimes, I just need to give myself a break.”
Later in the afternoon, Harris eats an apple and salad while she prepares for her two SGA meetings that night.
Harris became involved with SGA during her sophomore year. She served as the secretary of diversity affairs for her first two years, and she ran for Student Body president at the end of her junior year. Serving as president has been an honor for Harris.
“My favorite part about the role that I have is that I get to meet a lot of different students and create connections,” said Harris. “Getting to work with the other SGA members has been great. Understanding everyone’s leadership styles and how we all work together to serve the student body is what I really enjoy.”
Harris attends a Zoom meeting for the Academic Affairs Committee, followed by a Zoom meeting for the entire Academic Senate.
“I think those meetings went really well,” said Harris. “We discussed topics such as our engineering program and what the future of that will look like.”
Looking back on her time at Illinois State, Harris emphasizes that the experience she has gained from SGA has set her up for success as she prepares to move on to her next chapter.
“In the fall, I’ll be going to graduate school for higher education administration and student affairs,” said Harris. “I think that SGA has helped me with that a lot, because it gave me a full view of what higher education looks like and where I could potentially see myself in the future.”