Lauren Maunus is a 2014 Congressional Award Gold Medalist from Palm City, Florida. In addition to her achievements as a Medalist, Lauren is an accomplished TEDxYouth Speaker. Be sure to check out this clip from one of her recent talks in Miami.
Lauren’s experience with The Congressional Award:
We are taught from a young age that we are a product of our experiences and my involvement with the Congressional Award has showed me that we shape those experiences by establishing and achieving our own goals. I have expanded my passion for social justice through participation in the four program areas, while learning about my community and myself. As importantly, my participation has helped me to grown into a more passionate, engaged citizen, and has granted me a great sense of pride for having made an impact in my community and nation. Skills I derived from each program area became stepping-stones for me to accomplish my goals.
I began the Personal Development component during the 2011 primary elections by leading a voter pre-registration drive at my high school, interning for a US Congressman (I am honored to have received the Congressional Award from Congressman Murphy, who I proudly supported in 2011 and 2012), and volunteering for President Obama’s re-election campaign. I learned about the election process and met key stakeholders and legislators in my community, state and nation. Furthermore, I acquired strong organization and communication skills and my ardor for politics was intensified.
Volunteer Public Service was, and continues to be, stimulating and rewarding. When I am asked “What motivates you?” I never hesitate to reply, “my experiences.” I have managed volunteers at a community kitchen for three years, and I coordinate a team of volunteers from my temple to staff the soup kitchen at a neighboring church every month.
My greatest challenge and achievement began with the Congressional Award and has evolved into a lifelong commitment to improving student health and nutrition. What started as a labor of love, inspired by my sister who suffers from food allergies, has grown into a federal initiative to reform national school nutrition and food allergy policy. Through passion, patience, and persistence, I continue to advocate for meaningful change. I have met with local, state, and federal leaders, and was invited to the White House to share my ideas. I also delivered a TEDxYouth Talk to inspire my peers to follow their passion to effect social change.
The Congressional Award is definitely harboring a more engaged and passionate generation of youth, and I would highly recommend meeting the challenge of the Congressional Award! 400 hours of volunteer time didn’t seem like work in pursuit of my passions; in fact, my volunteer time has grown to over 1,500 hours as I continue to further my advocacy and broaden my experiences.