Growing up, Lauren always had an appreciation for history. At home, studying the past was not only accepted, but encouraged, and she frequently visited historical sites like Ellis Island, Gettysburg, and Colonial Williamsburg on family vacations. In high school, Lauren developed a deeper interest for history in her AP World, United States, and European History courses, and upon arrival at IU, promptly declared her major in History.
“I initially decided to major in history out of pure interest for the subject, but I have developed a deeper appreciation for history in combining it with other disciplines,” Lauren states. Lauren also majors in Political Science and Spanish, and during her time at IU, she has primarily focused on the intersection of public policy and history. For Lauren, combining her interests in history and politics was a natural fit, as both majors emphasize critical thinking and writing skills - a great preparation for a potential career in law. But she also believes that thinking about public policy through an historical lens can have wider, measurable benefits for politics today.
Last spring, Lauren was selected for the Undergraduate Research Project through the IU Arts and Humanities Council’s China Remixed program, which allowed students to conduct research focused on aspects of Chinese-American culture. Professor Jason McGraw encouraged Lauren to apply after reading her preliminary paper in his H270 class earlier that fall, which dealt with the first United States law to restrict a group of immigrants from entry: The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Lauren’s final paper, Chinese Exclusion and its Enforcement: Rewriting the Narrative, focused on how problems politicians currently face with passing immigration legislation are not new problems at all; the same issues within the immigration bureaucracy have their roots as early as the 19th century. Lauren is currently working on publishing her research.
“Too often, our politicians and policymakers fail to recognize the successes and failures of the past, forcing us to view historical and contemporary policy-making as two separate areas of study,” she argues. “In reality,a thorough understanding of what it takes to craft good public policy requires a willingness to look to the past and ask ourselves, ‘what went wrong?’”
Lauren’s studies in political history have also helped her in her extracurricular activities, chiefly as an Executive Board member of Indiana University’s Model United Nations team. For Lauren, representing a foreign country at Model UN conferences, often in committees situated in different times and places, requires a strong working knowledge of international politics, both contemporary and historical. As a member of the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education’s Student Advisory Board, Lauren also deals with university policy and how past initiatives can be improved to meet modern challenges. Lauren previously worked as an intern in Senator Joe Donnelly’s Office, and plans to continue gaining political internship experience in London this summer. A sophomore Herman B Wells Scholar and staff writer for a student-run public policy blog, Lauren is excited to delve further into political history during her next two years at IU.