As a program coordinator for Operation Smile, Lauren Wall ‘08 organizes medical missions in developing countries to provide children with free surgeries to treat facial deformities, such as cleft palate and cleft lip. Although her primary territory includes Brazil, Venezuela, and Ecuador, Wall’s work has recently taken her to India and Bolivia.
Wall spends over half of her year outside the United States coordinating the work of medical professionals who perform the surgeries. In addition to the immediate benefit of a new smile for each patient, Wall’s work also impacts each community on a broader scale since every mission leaves behind trained medical staff, surgical equipment, and professional partnerships so that the lives of additional children can also be enhanced.
Originally from Columbia, South Carolina, Wall majored in Spanish and minored in political science as a Park Scholar. During her time at NC State, she was active with Urban Ministries of Wake County and the WKNC radio station, and spent a year abroad in Ecuador.
After graduation, Wall worked for Quantum Learning Network in Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, and Hong Kong leading academic and life skills programs for teens. She then worked for a year as an elementary school teacher in Spain, teaching English, science, and art in a bilingual school through Auxiliares de Conversacion, a program sponsored by the Spanish government.
“Being a Park Scholar meant that I was connected to mentors and collaborators of all different fields and specialties,” says Wall. “If I needed expert advice, no matter what the area, I had someone to ask.”
Wall is committed to serving as a mentor through supporting the development of current Park Scholars. She regularly shares information on available Operation Smile internships and job opportunities. This past summer, she supervised intern Meera Venkataraman ‘14 who began her first year as a Park Scholar this fall.
After her contract with Operation Smile ends in January 2012, Wall will begin her graduate work in development management and policy at Georgetown University. She plans to pursue a career working with public health programs through non-governmental organizations.