Winning a cash prize of $500 generally can stimulate one’s imagination about how to spend the prize. Some might choose to upgrade their wardrobe, have a party, purchase a new computer, put it in the bank, or take a vacation. But for one Southwestern College student, none of these ideas came to mind. Instead, she made the immediate decision to donate the money to a non-profit organization.
Lauren Strain, a Southwestern College junior from McAlester, Okla., who is studying psychology with a minor in Leadership studies, found herself in a hunger class offered by Southwestern in the spring of 2013. One assignment was to come up with a way to solve world hunger. The question was to be answered on the Stine Seed Company web site which posed this question. Stine Seed Company is headquartered in Adel, Iowa. The winning submission would win $500.
“My answer, in a nutshell, was to teach hungry people how to be self-sufficient,” Strain says. “And then once they learn how to be self-sufficient, it is time to pay it forward and teach others who are struggling how to be self-sufficient. The reason I won, according to the Stine Seed Company, was because my solution was the most realistic approach. I was shocked; I never win anything. I think the last time I won a contest was in the second grade.”
Strain submitted her answer in March and found out about her win during the summer. She says she immediately called her mom. But oddly, Strain wasn’t thinking about how she could spend the money on herself but rather how she could help somebody else.
“I learned about winning the $500 right around the time of the Moore (Oklahoma) tornadoes and immediately thought about donating there,” Strain says. “But then I thought ‘Winfield is my home now, how could it be put to good use here?’”
Through Leadership Southwestern, Strain has become very close with Gayle McPherson and Eagle’s Nest. Their mission is important to her, which has led her to donating the money to Eagle’s Nest.
“I love Gayle, but even more, I love the mission of Eagle’s Nest,” Strain says. “Their purpose is to empower women. To teach them that even if they are at the bottom, they can make it to the top.”
Strain is excited to be at Southwestern College and feels she is where she was meant to be.
“Lindsay (Wilke) and Cheryl (Rude) have helped me so much in becoming the person I want to be,” Strain says. “They have taught me so much through servant leadership. They have taught me humility and I am grateful for that.”