Major: Geography-Urban Planning and Sustainability
Graduation date: 2021
Involvement on campus: Ciao Club Treasurer, Geography Club
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

This week we selected Lauren Conner as our Bobcat Spotlight because of her leadership and involvement in the World Food Day Food Drive. Lauren is a freshman but is already getting involved on campus and participated in this food drive through one of her classes. Involvement in events like this is very important for growth as a student and can help you gain valuable leadership skills. Lauren was able to do both of those things while helping to support families in Athens County.

How did you get involved with the World Food Day Food Drive?

For the fall semester, I was enrolled in CAS 2300 Themes in Action: Wealth and Poverty course, instructed by Dr. Yeong Kim. This online course was an introduction to issues related to wealth, poverty and inequality. One of the main goals of this course was to get students involved in the Athens community. One of our assignments was to host a “mini” food drive. In early October, I hung informational posters and placed a donation box on the second floor of my residence hall. From there I texted the girls on my floor to donate non-perishable items before the end of the month. All donations would then be delivered to Athens County Food Pantry.

What was your favorite part of working on this project?

My favorite part of hosting the “mini” food drive was the success it had! I did not expect to have an overflowing box of donations. I figured since we were first-year students, no one would have extra rice or soups laying around since we use the dining halls to get our meals. It was nice to see that some people even used their meal swipes at the campus market to purchase canned vegetables to be donated.

Did you run into any difficulties while working on this project? How did you overcome them?

My residence hall is one of the larger ones on campus so there is a lot of foot-traffic throughout the halls. Sometimes people would place an opened bag of chips or a half-eaten container of Oreos in the box. Other times I noticed some items would disappear. I expected there to be difficulties, but I just had to hope the good would outshine the bad and hope that there would be more donated items than stolen items.

How has this leadership experience helped or affected you?

This experience has helped me realize that every act of kindness counts. My little donation box was able to help feed a family or maybe even multiple families in Athens County. It’s nice to help those in need and it makes me want to host another one and receive even greater results.

And lastly, what is your favorite part about being a Bobcat?

When they say we’re one big Bobcat family, they really mean it! I’d actually never heard of OU until last year when I started searching for schools to apply to. When I announced that I would be furthering my education here, all these family friends were so excited for me because it turned out they are OU alumni and I had no idea. It’s just exciting to know that Bobcats are all around me. It also seems that if you go to OU and you’re not from Ohio, you’re from Pittsburgh. So, it’s fun when I’m walking around Pittsburgh wearing my OU gear to hear that “OU!” shout and I can respond with an “Oh yeah!”

Want to learn more about Lauren’s experience with the World Food Day Food Drive? Check out her reflection that was published in the College of Arts & Sciences Forum newsletter.

Interview conducted by CLDC Social Media Intern Kate Ansel

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