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Laura Restrepo '09

A concern for local poverty leads to interest in international diplomacy

Laura Restrepo walks into the library with two hearts made of construction paper, asking peers and staff to sign it if they support the bill that is currently in Congress that would provide $1 billion for the prevention of Malaria across the world. She sent these two Valentines to Vermont's senators, in hopes that they will understand that the people of Vermont support this cause. This is not her first humanitarian act, and it certainly won't be her last.

Growing up in Cali, Colombia, Laura lived on the privileged side of town, but saw the destitution of the neighborhood near her, where some families could not even afford to clothe their children. Faced with these hard truths, Laura, at the age of 12, gave some of her Christmas presents to the children nearby. She continued to do this annually, and also began collecting donations from clientele at her family's business in hopes to buy even more presents for the kids.

This was how Laura first got involved with UNICEF, an intense involvement that continues to this day. As president of the UNICEF club on campus, she is the key organizer of the annual mile of change, a fundraiser that raised $500 last year to be donated to a number of different non-profit organizations. "We already raised $700 this year through a number of different fundraisers," Laura commented, "Our goal is $2000. It's going to take a lot of work, but if you have the energy, you can make it happen."

A business major with a concentration in international business, and an environmental studies minor, Laura is also involved in the Pre-Law Club, is director of fundraising for the student senate, a residence assistant, and hopes to one day be a member of the United Nations. In the meantime, Laura and eight other GMC students attended the Model UN at Harvard, where 2500 students from around the world met to represent the government of Suriname and debate one of that country's current hot political issues. "Representing the government of a country takes a lot of research, on top of the many other responsibilities school requires," she said, "but it's an amazing experience, and totally worth it. You just fall in love with it, after a while."

By Nicole Ainsworth '09

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