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ACT Women & Girls

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Visalia, CA 93279

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FLA Alumni continue their advocacy efforts across the region, state and nation after they graduate. Highlighted above is one graduate, Lauren Gray.


The possibilities are endless for the Female Leadership Academy (FLA) graduate, Lauren Gray, who recently returned to the States from Africa. Lauren, a passionate young woman who attended the FLA in 2006 and 2007, has always had a fire in her to make change.  Lauren is driven to make change locally and globally-and has never missed an opportunity to make an impact on others. During her time in the FLA, Lauren was instrumental in the Comprehensive Sex Education campaign--collecting survey data and presenting information to the Visalia Unified School Board. She also was a strong advocate for reproductive health issues and met with her representatives in Sacramento and locally. Lauren has a passion for people and justice. With careful thought Lauren moved to Africa to participate in a study abroad program to learn and give back to a developing country in August of 2010. Lauren utilized a great deal of knowledge she obtained from the FLA and applied it during her time in Africa. "If I hadn't participated in FLA, I wouldn't have been able to do this work." Lauren stated.


Before leaving to Africa, she emotionally, physically and educationally prepared herself for what she may encounter. In August 2010, on a cool Kenyan winter day, Lauren began her journey in Nairobi. She admitted, "Everything I thought I klaurennew was wrong. So much of what I had learned in classes about the Global South was not accurate." Africa truly is a different place and nothing could have prepared her for the severe poverty and living conditions she did encounter once she set foot on land and saw it all with her own two eyes.


During her stay in Africa, Lauren reached out to girls and women in  the community to talk about HIV/AIDS. Lauren met with the group once a week for six weeks and had an open dialogue about sex and HIV. Lauren reflected on FLA during this time, "Because of peer education training, I was able to address the topics."  Lauren recognized and was surprised that Africans do not openly discuss sex and sexuality, yet they have one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates.


In June 2011, Lauren returned to the states reluctantly. She will return to UC Davis to complete her degree and graduate in June 2012. Lauren is currently a part of the FLA Alumni Association and continues to stay involved. Upon graduation from college, Lauren wants to go back to Africa and give more to the developing country. Lauren aspires to get her Master's degree and work as an educator after she completes her service work. But for now, Africa is the only thing on her mind.

FROM FLA TO AFRICA