This year’s theme is Be The Inspiration, as highlighted by Rotary International President Barry Rassin, and championed by our District Governor, Jane McManus. New Rotary member, Lauren Heinonen, certainly embodies inspiration. Here is her story:
I graduated fro￼m the University of Michigan in the Spring of 2017 with a degree in Biological Anthropology and immediately set foot into the professional world. My job combines my interests in genetics, anthropology, medicine, and above all others, helping people – basically the holy grail of jobs, especially among recent college graduates. I work as an Assistant Clinical Scientist for a small biotech company called DalCor Pharmaceuticals, but my project is anything but small: I am helping manage a large cardiovascular drug trial which currently has over 5,000 patients enrolled in 32 countries around the world. This drug is groundbreaking in the sense that there is evidence that it is beneficial only to a subpopulation of cardiovascular patients that have a certain genotype within a specific gene in their DNA. My last year and a half as an undergrad at UMich was spent completing an honors thesis in human evolutionary genetics, so the fit couldn’t have been better.
Despite landing the perfect job, I quickly started to feel like something was lacking in my life. I needed a better way to tangibly give back. One day, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across a photo of a Rotary Four-Way Test banner that was posted by a woman running for Congress in my home district. I was blown away that there was an organization that stuck to such strong morals, and I knew I had to be a part of it. The more I dug, the more I was enamored. Immediately after submitting a form on the Rotary International website seeking more information about membership, my phone was ringing off the hook with Rotarians eager to tell me more. Our Assistant District Governor Anne Nauts took the lead and offered to take me to any Rotary meeting in the area that I wished to attend, but she suggested that the Ann Arbor club was probably the best fit.
She couldn’t have been more right. Though I was initially surprised by the singing and formality, I pleasantly found that the club felt like family and every member was passionate about giving back to our local and global communities. I jumped right in and began to work as a STRIVE mentor about 4 months before I was officially inducted as a member of the club. I have since joined the Public Image Committee as the Associate Webmaster, helped organize the New Member Class Tree Tag project, participated in and started to organize trips to the Detroit Tiny Homes project site, volunteered at Touch-A-Truck, brought in our Global Grant Scholarship recipient this year, joined the Attendance Committee, and attended countless different committee meetings. This is surely just the tip of the iceberg as I plan to have a lifetime of service for Rotary.