As a child, Lauren Wall ‘08 was treated for an autoimmune condition. Wall’s experience inspired her ongoing mission to improve health care for children around the globe.
As a Spanish language and literature major while at NC State, Wall’s first job out of school was teaching first grade in Madrid. The class Wall taught was populated by six and seven year olds who were mostly poor Latin American immigrants or gitanos — Spanish gypsies — and she provided the first bilingual experience for these students.
“Sometimes I think back to my life — teaching children during the day and eating tapas with friends at night — and wonder why I left” Wall says. “But looking at my career now, I know it was the right choice.”
After studying abroad for a year in Ecuador during her time at NC State, Wall began volunteering with the Urban Ministries Open Door Clinic, which worked with uninsured Latino immigrants. Wall’s work here would begin her foray into nonprofit work.
After returning from Spain, Wall encountered a job opening at Operation Smile. This international non-profit organization mobilizes and facilitates teams of volunteer medical professionals to perform free cleft lip and palate surgeries during medical missions. Here, Wall worked as a program manager, coordinating all of the logistics for the international medical missions, usually in collaboration with in-country partners.
Wall then went on to work as a program manager for miraclefeet, an organization that works to increase access to clubfoot treatment in low- and middle-income countries. In the fall of 2012, Wall hosted Park Scholars Mary Charles Hale ‘13 and Taylor Craig ‘15 as interns. Hale worked with social media and communications while Craig worked with various programs.
“I really enjoyed having them both for a variety of reasons,” Wall says. “It’s so interesting to bounce ideas off of people that aren’t immersed in the work 24/7, and they livened up our small office, as well.”
At the heart of it all, Wall’s continued work with nonprofit organizations is driven by her passion for improving the lives of children. Her vision is that of a world where all children have access to adequate healthcare, so they can lead healthy, normal lives.
“Children are our most vulnerable population and children that are hidden away and denied an education due to birth defects are even more vulnerable to abuse and neglect,” Wall says. “I plan to be in this field for life — there is still so much more work to be done.”
Story by Lindsey Rosenbaum