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Meet Lauren

We are so excited to welcome Lauren to the INCLUDAS team as the Advocacy and Research Intern!

What’s your favorite thing about yourself, and what’s the most significant thing that’s influenced you as a person?

It sounds cliché, but I feel like I’m very caring. I want to do things to help people. And again, I know that’s a really cliché thing, but I feel like it’s definitely one of my driving forces for doing everything. I went to a tech school where I majored in the medical field because I wanted to help people in that way. But then I pivoted toward writing more, and now I’m kind of merging those two interests with a public health and advocacy focus.

What makes you proud of yourself, and what are your aspirations?

I’m graduating a year and a half early. I have worked really hard over the past two years or so, doing full semesters over the summer. I’m very proud of myself for working so hard to save a lot of money and also to start my career and the rest of my life. I’m very proud of how hard I’ve been working on that and how dedicated I am, even though it has been very difficult sometimes – especially over the summer – but thinking about how I’m right there has been very helpful for me.

Why is disability diversity in stories important to you?

I have chronic fatigue and I’ve struggled with that for around four years now. I’ve noticed that there’s very little representation for any kind of disability, let alone the invisible ones. A lot of people have told me, “You don’t look disabled,” or “You don’t seem like you are,” and that’s made me really question where those thoughts come from. I also took a class about disability representation in the media this past summer. It’s been interesting diving deep into theoretical aspects of why disabled people are portrayed in certain ways in the media and why there’s a lack of representation.

I feel like a lot of chronic illnesses are not necessarily talked about a lot. I feel like that definitely would have helped me be able to celebrate what was happening with me and that sudden change in my life. It could be a very helpful sort of thing for any people of any age to really read about and feel seen or comforted in any sort of way. I’m sure these books are out there somewhere, but they’re not super popular or haven’t reached the right audiences yet.

Why are you interested in working in publishing?

I really want to learn more about representation and advocating for that, especially in children’s books and young adult genres. I think it’s so important for children especially to have representation, and I’m really happy about this new wave of books that’s coming with representation and all different kinds of life, particularly with disability. I want to play a part in that and help to research and advocate for these things.

Books in general, I have had a connection to forever. My mom would always read to me when I was a baby, and it became my favorite thing. I have a pretty big home library at this point; I have three-ish bookshelves filled with stuff. I love reading because you can go into so many different worlds and also bring that back into my own, real world, and reflect on that.

What’s your role at INCLUDAS, and what’s been the most fulfilling part about being on the INCLUDAS team?

I am the advocacy and research intern. I am really excited to be helping with setting up the book party. We’re already talking about the different ideas that we could possibly go for and really diving into that has been interesting. Getting to fix up the blog is also really cool. It reminds me of when I was younger seeing all the fun little arts and crafts sort of things that we used to do. I’m just really excited. I haven’t done too much yet, but I’m just really excited to start.

I’m looking into public health [through my graduate program] because I realized I love writing and publishing so much, but I’ve also really missed the more scientific, research sort of things too. So I’m really glad that I was able to get this internship to start really seeing how those two interests will work together. My goal is to go to policy writing and public health promotion, along with representation and making sure people are educated and respectful and empathetic with everything.

Any advice for those wanting to work in the publishing industry?

Honestly, just reach out. I did not believe it when people would be like, “Just ask and people will usually be happy to talk to you about things and explain what’s going on in their field.” I always was like, “There’s no way, you need to be really accomplished person to break into things.” But really, as long as you’re willing to learn and willing to reach out and really put in the work, there are so many different possibilities. I had no idea that INCLUDAS was looking for interns and stuff, but actually taking that step and searching and looking at what these companies stand for pays off. I feel like more often than not, people are really excited to talk about what they’re doing in publishing. Reaching out is great, even though it’s scary at first. It’s a lot easier as you keep doing it, and you can learn so much more.

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