Lending a voice and speaking up are two things for which Lauren McGunigale ‘11 is uniquely prepared. As a communications major, debate scholar and forensic teammate, Lauren knew that the Lord had plans to utilize her communication skills in her job and in her community.
Currently, Lauren is the Asso. Director of Development for Mercy House, where she utilizes her communication skills by offering community engagement and marketing insight to assist the fight against homelessness in Orange County. Lauren shares that she spends her time advocating for those who need resources such as food, laundry service, emergency shelter and permanent housing. Using her voice to advocate and educate is something that Lauren feels called to do. “I was always looking for opportunities to get involved at Vanguard, like being on the student council and the debate team, and now I get to utilize those skills in my job with Mercy House.”
One of her core takeaways from her time at Vanguard is the opportunity to always be a person of integrity in the workplace. “Vanguard never pushed the idea that you could only be in a position of ministry in the church; they showed the importance of having a strong character and being a person of integrity…and articulated that we can be in the [secular] workforce and be utilizing our skills as ministry.”
“This year in particular, I realized that the Lord has given me a voice, and a sphere of influence on social media and in my community…” said Lauren, reflecting on the racial justice conversations that she was engaging in during the height of the pandemic and nationwide response to the killing of George Floyd. “Helping to make people think, utilizing my voice and influence in a way that can help people who are trying to learn or see things from a different perspective, and create a safe place for diplomacy was something the Lord had prepared me for.”
Overall, the conversations that Lauren has been able to have with friends, family, and her community have been positive and left an impact on Lauren’s heart. “It’s been a joy to see people take hold of the work that myself and people of color have been trying to share with the world…When I was on campus, I think I was one of 20 or so Black people, and it makes me so proud to see how diverse the campus is now and how Vanguard has tried to lead in that way.”
At Mercy House, Lauren works with a uniquely vulnerable population who has struggled to have a voice in social and economic conversations. While Lauren continues to utilize her voice for vulnerable communities in Orange County through her job and through her social platforms, she knows that there is still more work to do ahead. As someone who is standing in the gap for these voices, Lauren knows that there are many misconceptions that stem from a lack of knowledge about the problems that these populations are struggling with. Personally, Lauren’s plea for alumni and students is to ask themselves, “Where am I serving? How am I getting involved in my community?”
“If the pandemic has reminded me of anything, it’s that ‘I can’t do things alone.’ We’re all in this together, and as a community we need to realize it’s not about us; it’s about getting outside our preconceived notions and allowing that to benefit the community.” To Lauren, the best support is the kind that includes getting outside of ourselves so that we can be a global force for good.” So much of business is the network you build and the community you create.”