Serena Elavia ’14
Only two years out of college and it seems that Kayla Lawson ’11 has done more than most people will do in their life. Many people have big dreams and goals that they want to achieve, but so many default to boring desk jobs for a variety of reasons and never follow their dreams. Breaking from that trend is Kayla Lawson, a 2011 human rights and anthropology graduate of Trinity hailing from North Andover, MA. At Trinity, Lawson was a member of the Fred Pfeil Community Project, played defense for the women’s lacrosse team, worked with Amnesty International, and served as a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) counselor her senior year. Lawson garnered many academic NESCAC awards and was on the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) honor roll during her time at Trinity. In the fall of her senior year, Lawson applied to and was accepted into the Fulbright program to teach English in an Islamic boarding school in an area near Jakarta, Indonesia. She chose to apply to Indonesia both because she has always been interested in South East Asian culture and Islam. “Teaching was one of the most wonderful and challenging experiences I have ever had,” says Lawson. A medley of feelings, Lawson described teaching as “exciting, scary, fun and many more emotions all at the same time.”
After spending 10 months teaching, Lawson learned not only an immense amount about Islamic culture, but also about herself. Running off to another country with a different culture and not knowing anyone allowed Lawson to reflect and grow as a person. Thoroughly enjoying her experience, Lawson knew that her future career would involve working for a social justice or human rights organization, but it doesn’t stop there. At Trinity, Lawson was an avid lacrosse player, but even after graduation she kept a strong interest in the sport. Over this past holiday season, Lawson joined a group of 13 people to Jamaica on a trip with the organization Fields of Growth International. Fields of Growth International (http://fieldsofgrowthintl.org/) aims to create social change through lacrosse and seeks to promote lacrosse throughout the world. It was started in Uganda in 2009, and Lawson joined the organization on their first trip to Jamaica to launch the Jamaica Lacrosse Association. The group visited multiple all boys and all girls’ schools to introduce the game in high schools, and spent another portion of their trip performing community service work. For Lawson, this trip was the perfect combination of “melding the worlds of lacrosse and social justice together.” Eventually, Lawson says that she would like to run her own NGO or non-profit organization, as long as she can work with people on a grassroots level. While she is unsure about which geographic area she would like to work in, Lawson says that she is still learning about what she wants to do and learning about others’ cultures.
But before she sets up a non-profit, Lawson still has a few more things on her agenda. Currently, she works in the office of academic affairs at Cornell Medical School in New York City where she handles curriculum and educational development. Meanwhile, Lawson eagerly waits for an acceptance letter to Columbia University’s masters program in human rights and searches for other organizations that she can work for or volunteer at. When Lawson applied to Trinity, she knew that her requirements for college were an environment where she could balance academics and lacrosse, something that Trinity offers. One of her main reasons for attending Trinity though was the strong human rights program, and she says that this defined her time at Trinity. Her favorite human rights course was “The Question of Justice.” Being able to have the flexibility to serve as an athlete and a student and play a large role in the Fred was Lawson’s favorite aspect of Trinity. Whether she learned it on the lacrosse field or in the classroom, Lawson says that she learned to hold herself accountable and constantly raises the bar and pushes herself. In raising the bar on her, Lawson says that people must be open to venturing down new paths that intrigue them. “Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith. Don’t be afraid to move to the other side of the world. The risk and excitement are worth it,” says Lawson.