A lifer and graduating senior explains how she became involved in student advocacy.
Everyone wants to be heard, to feel like their voice matters. Lifer Lauren Ziment ’20 hopes to make a difference in the world by giving others the platform to be heard. Student advocacy has been a significant focus of her Upper School life.
“I just want everybody to know that they can speak up,” Lauren shares. “Not everybody's opinion has to be in line with mine; their opinion is still valid and still matters. I want to advocate for my own beliefs and give others a chance for their voices to be heard, give them that platform to speak their truths and opinions, in order to inspire greatness.”
Growing up, political conversations were common around the dinner table. Lauren’s family encouraged her and her sister (lifer Melanie ’18) to keep track of what’s going on in the world to develop their own perspectives and opinions.
In her freshman year, Lauren traveled with her classmates and Upper School history teacher Mr. [Jonathan] Shulman to Washington, D.C. for the presidential inauguration and Women’s March in 2017.
“It [the Women’s March] was such a unique experience being surrounded by so many people who were there for one uniting cause,” shares Lauren. “I thought at 14 years old my voice didn’t matter, but being there and being a part of that showed me even if I’m a small cog in the machine, my presence matters, and speaking my mind can really make an impact. That was probably the moment that turned me towards student advocacy.”
Lauren’s advocacy work grew from that point on. She helped organize the student walkout against gun violence during her sophomore year following the Parkland shooting and spearheaded letter-writing campaigns to show students their voice matters. She attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) hosted by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and helped plan the school’s annual student-led Hope Conference. The Hope Conference brings awareness to topics about race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and more for students to learn from each other’s experiences. Lauren has spoken up about gender equality and is a member of Spectrum, the gay-straight alliance club at LJCDS.
Having conversations around challenging topics is a learned skill for which Lauren credits her mentors for helping her along the way, including her Hope Conference faculty advisor and English teacher, Ms. Stewart. “She has taught me how to carry myself with compassion for others,” shares Lauren. “Diversity work can be really difficult. Ms. Stewart taught me how to have those difficult discussions, how to read those difficult situations and how to be comfortable with discomfort when we're talking about issues that really need to be discussed. She has taught me how to deal with that adversity and how to carry myself with love and compassion.”
In the classroom, Lauren has found her passion for political science in Mr. Shulman’s U.S. government and politics course. “It made me want to study specifically the law and the constitution and have that foundational basis for my advocacy efforts,” she shares. “Being a member of Torrey Model United Nations (MUN) taught me how to be a better global citizen and also really lent a hand to me being interested in the political field. Mr. Shulman taught me the value of being involved, not only in politics on a national domestic scale but internationally, and how one of the best things we can do as global citizens is to be educated. He taught me the value of always learning and always being involved and always speaking your mind.”
Lauren’s planning on studying political science at Pomona College in the fall.