Minds We Meet – Interviewing Students Like You!

This week: Lauren Calleja


Lauren Calleja is an AU student from Edmonton AB. She is in the MA-IS program with a focus on Equity Studies and Global Change. In addition to her studies, Lauren is the Communications and Volunteer Coordinator at a local non-profit called HIV Edmonton.

The Voice Magazine recently interviewed Lauren by e-mail, and here’s what she had to say about school, running, and Somaliland.

First of all, whereabouts do you live? And have you always lived there?
I live in Edmonton, AB, Canada. I have lived in Alberta all my life but moved to Edmonton eight years ago to attend the University of Alberta.

If you work, describe what you do.
I am the Communications and Volunteer Coordinator at a local non-profit called HIV Edmonton. HIV Edmonton is a charitable organization that supports people living with, and affected by, HIV and AIDS. My position entails managing the social media accounts, writing blogs and newsletters, volunteer engagement, and community education (information exchange, HIV presentations, etc.)

Describe the path that led you to AU.
I was looking for a graduate program that fit my life as I wanted to keep my full-time position.

What happens after you finish your degree?
I am really interested in health equity and maternal health. I’d love to work with women and girls, primarily those from marginalized populations. I am not sure what that looks like yet but I like the idea of working in education, development and policy, either locally or globally.

What do you do like to do when You’re not studying?
I enjoy fitness: running, yoga, bootcamp. I will be running my first half marathon in August?I am very excited! I also love to read, hang out with my husband and my puppy, and spend time with friends. I also volunteer for a few different agencies in the city.

What famous person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why?
Probably Edna Adan Ismail. She founded the Edna Hospital for Women in Somaliland. Somaliland has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. She used her own money to open this hospital and set up programs to train midwives and nurses. In only 15 years, she has successfully reduced the maternal mortality rate of 1600/100,000 to 402.6/100,000. I just find her so inspiring!

Describe your experience with online learning. What do you like? Dislike?
My experience so far has been good, although I am still getting the hang of things! I like the flexibility but I do miss the traditional classroom setting. I love people and I really enjoy discussion. I also learn better with traditional classroom facilitation so I miss those aspects of the university experience.

If you won $20 million in a lottery, what would you do with it?
I’d pay off my student loans, donate to my favourite charities, travel with my husband and make sure all of my loved ones were taken care of! For travel, I would love to go to Germany, Spain and Turkey, the Philippines (my husband is Filipino so he would love to visit his extended family,) Thailand, Cambodia, India, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Ghana. I have a ton more places I’d love to visit but those are on my bucket list!

What’s the single best thing AU could do to improve your experience as a student?
I think it would be nice to have chapters of students in some of the bigger cities. It would be great to connect to other AU students in Edmonton.

If you could wake up tomorrow with a “superpower”, which one would it be?
To either get my to-do list done quickly or to not need sleep?haha!

Please tell us something that few people know about you.
I am a pre- and post-natal yoga instructor. I am really interested in maternal health but I am a terrible yogi, so I don’t teach.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in life?
Probably that being true to yourself is so important. Also, to always be kind. There is so much dark in the world?kindness and empathy are good for your soul and good for others too.

What do you think about e-texts?
I actually really like them?I just upload them to my tablet and have constant access to them!

Where has life taken you so far?
I haven’t done much travelling but in 2007 I went to France and Belgium. I went to Mexico in 2013, and my husband and I went to Jamaica in July 2015 for our honeymoon.

What (non-AU) book are you reading now?
I am reading Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling ? She’s hilarious!

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