Making a change across the world

Laurel Haverkamp '20 wants a future with UNCEF.

Laurel+Haverkamp+%2720+at+the+2016+Best+Buddies+Friendship+Walk+downtown+Iowa+City.
Laurel Haverkamp '20 at the 2016 Best Buddies Friendship Walk downtown Iowa City.

Laurel Haverkamp '20 at the 2016 Best Buddies Friendship Walk downtown Iowa City.

Laurel Haverkamp '20 at the 2016 Best Buddies Friendship Walk downtown Iowa City.

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When you are in an underdeveloped country in Africa, the classroom is like no classroom you will find in any other school. It’s run-down, powerless and water drips in from the hole in the roof. It’s not as pleasant as you want it to be, but inside, there are special and appreciative children as well as a motivated teacher.

Laurel Haverkamp ’20 is inspired to better the education in these kids’ lives, and hopes to teach in underdeveloped countries with United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

“Ever since I was little, I thought, ‘Oh the only thing you can do is teach like that’s all there is,’” Haverkamp said. “For a while, I thought I wanted to be a doctor, then I realized that’s way too much work. I could teach, but I didn’t really want to just teach in a typical Midwestern classroom all day. I thought about what other teaching there was, there’s special education which I’m really passionate about, but there’s also so many children in underdeveloped countries around the world who aren’t given proper education or aren’t educated at all. And I thought ‘I can help with that’,” said Haverkamp.

Even though she is not a part of the UNICEF club at West High due to her busy schedule, Haverkamp has definitely done her research about UNICEF. She confessed to not doing her homework and googling about UNICEF instead. Haverkamp wants to start teaching in high risk schools in Chicago because of the teaching experience required, and it would be easier to start in the states instead of being immediately thrown into a completely different culture. Since she needs to know one the UNICEF languages, she is currently taking Spanish 3 honors, and plans to take French 1 her senior year. Haverkamp plans to major in special education with international studies with UNICEF.

Haverkamp is vice president of the Best Buddies chapter at West High and will be president next year. Best Buddies works with people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Although Best Buddies is not connected to UNICEF, Haverkamp likes the aspect of helping and making a change in someone’s life. Emma Durian ‘19, Haverkamp’s good friend said, “I think Laurel would be a great teacher. She’s always peppy and enthusiastic and she works really well with others”. Haverkamp is also part of the West High swim team and babysits after school.

Haverkamp’s parents are both teachers. Her mom was an elementary school teacher, then principal at Solon and Weber. She’s now regional administrator at Grant Wood AEA. Her dad taught fifth grade at Shimek and was once a special education teacher.

This summer, Haverkamp received affirmation that working with kids is the right step for her after she worked at at Camp Wapsie. Camp Wapsie is a camp where young people build the character values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. Before Haverkamp went to the Leaders in Training program at Wapsie, she thought she’d be a doctor because they make money and also get to help people.

“After camp, working with kids for those three weeks, I honestly can’t imagine myself not working with kids. So it was a nice wakeup call,” Haverkamp said. She recalls working with a girl named Jaylee, who was having such a hard time. Jaylee would stubbornly inch her feet forward when playing tag with other kids. “Somehow working with that, I felt challenged and it was nice. Like, let’s problem solve. I liked being able to think on my feet. You can think on your feet in math, but that’s boring. The fact that it was with kids made it a milion times better.”

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