May 6, 2013
PITTSBURGH – As college students depart for the summer, soon-to-be junior swimmer Lauren Mills is taking six weeks and traveling to Cameroon to see how her hard work has paid off and to get some on-site experience.
Pittsburghpanthers.com: So you are headed to Cameroon today, that is pretty awesome! Tell everyone what you will be doing over there…
Lauren: I have been working with the Cameroon Football Development Program this spring as an intern. It is a non-profit organization based here in Pittsburgh, and also in Kumba, Cameroon. It uses soccer as a platform for community development. We have a Like Skills program, and things like HIV educational sessions to get the kids involved in something and to give them the skills they are going to need to improve their lives. We use soccer to do that, because they love soccer over there.
This spring I’ve been a marketing intern, but am switching to do operations management. So what I’ll be doing primarily when I am in Cameroon is a lot of organizational restructuring. It is basic stuff like how to develop human resources policies, how to do some monitoring and evaluations, and how to make thing efficient in the office and make procedures more standardized. They have a system right now, but everyone kind of does their own thing, so we are trying to make it more standard so everyone is on the same page.
Pittsburghpanthers.com: That sounds awesome! I am assuming you will have a lot of interaction with the kids over there. Are you going to play soccer? Do you have a soccer background, or are you mostly the organizational part of it?
Lauren: I am mostly the organizational part of it. I will get to participate in the after-school programs and things like that. I don’t play soccer. I am awful at land sports, which is why I am a swimmer, but I love to watch soccer, so I have some experience in watching the game!
Pittsburghpanthers.com: Are you going over with anyone else, or is it just you?
Lauren: A supervisor is already over there. He has been there for two or three weeks. I am traveling with someone else from the organization that is here in Pittsburgh, so we are going together.
Pittsburghpanthers.com: What are you most looking forward to?
Lauren: I am most looking forward to seeing the kids; seeing the people that I am trying to help face-to-face. I haven’t met them, I have only heard from the people who participate through our leaders in Kumba, so I haven’t had direct communication with them. I am really looking forward to getting an idea of what is actually going on over there and being able to see what my work is going towards.