Arts & Culture

Kiana Lawrence: Making the Most of Freshman Year

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Kiana Lawrence ’16

Making the most of everything that Oglethorpe offers can make the difference in your college experience. Rising sophomore Kiana Lawrence realized the benefits soon after stepping on campus to begin her freshman year. This Lawrenceville, Ga. native has taken advantage of each opportunity and taken the initiative to network every chance she gets.

During her freshman year, Kiana’s love of helping others drove her to continue volunteering through the Center for Civic Engagement—so much so that she completed the most volunteer hours of any student!  As a member of the women’s lacrosse team, Kiana also dedicated the most recorded service hours for any athlete, thereby also earning the Volunteer Athlete of the Year Award.

Kiana and friends during freshman Orientation Day of Service

Kiana and friends during freshman Orientation Day of Service

During her freshman year, Kiana’s volunteer projects were diverse: helping local seniors clean up their homes on Orientation Day of Service; engaging in interfaith service discussions at two COEXIST events; serving as a mentor at PATH Academy; building trails at Blue Heron Nature Preserve; serving as a campus tour guide for the Drew Charter School ; helping with erosion control at Brookhaven Park on OU Day of Service; and sorting food donations at the Atlanta Community Food Bank!

Over the winter holiday, Kiana chose to participate in the Alternative Winter Break trip to New Orleans. There she had the chance to the tour the Bayou District, a Purpose Built Community (PBC) that caters to revitalizing impoverished neighborhoods. This experience evoked an interest in the nonprofit sector and when she returned for the spring semester, Kiana added the Nonprofit Management minor to her academic plan.

Kiana and Bernice King at a Purpose Built Communities event

Kiana and Bernice King at a Purpose Built Communities event

Still fascinated by Purpose Built Communities, a non-profit that works side-by-side with local leaders to plan and implement holistic revitalization efforts, Kiana landed an internship in its Atlanta headquarters in their communications department. This position gave Kiana the opportunity to assist former Atlanta mayor and CEO of PBC, Shirley Franklin.

Over the summer, Kiana secured two jobs working with OU alumni at St. James United Methodist Church, near campus. Kiana connected with Jennifer Brown ’04, director of Camp Dogwood, and Emily Gantert ’09, director of the Activities Ministry, who welcomed her as a camp counselor and activities building manager.

“Oglethorpe made it possible to take on all these opportunities my freshman year,” said Kiana, “and I can’t wait to see what the next three years hold for me!”