Bright, adventuresome, and beautiful, Lauren brought joy to all who knew her. Born July 10, 1983, she grew up in Burlington, CT with her sister Alison and graduated with highest honors from The Master’s School, West Simsbury. There she enjoyed learning to speak Spanish, serving as captain of three Varsity sports, leading National Honor Society activities, and tutoring urban youth through the Learning and Serving Program. She earned MVP and Presidential Physical Fitness awards, started a poetry club, and forged relationships between basketball players at Hartford Public High and her school.
A Dean’s List student at Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA, Lauren was a member of the Spanish and International Studies honor societies and recipient of the Pepperdine Service Award. While attending Pepperdine, she worked for the University International Programs and completed an internship at Amazon Conservation Team, Arlington, VA, translating contracts and researching rainforest conservation issues. At Universidad Catolica de Argentina, Buenos Aires, Argentina, she served as an intern for international students, interviewing host-stay families and translating packets for English-speaking international students. During a semester off from college, she coached the Lewis S. Mills boys’ Junior Varsity volleyball team in her CT home town.
Lauren faced challenging situations with poise and confidence. She set goals, strategized creative ways to achieve them, and motivated herself to not give up. She was respected for relating well to people from different backgrounds, cultures, or age groups. With a sincere interest in and appreciation for others, Lauren quickly endeared herself to them. Whether tutoring youth in Hartford and Los Angeles or relating to international students and friends, she radiated a personal warmth, contagious enthusiasm, and mature sensitivity to cultural differences. In high school she wrote, “When I am with peers from under-represented cultural groups, I find their backgrounds intriguing. Making friends with international or minority students comes easily for me. Because of that, I will attend a college with a diverse student population.” Throughout her high school and Pepperdine years, she was a curious, committed learner. When she researched a subject, she left no stone uncovered. It is with spunk and style that she approached each academic challenge. In 2005 she graduated cum laude from Pepperdine University, earning a B.A. in Spanish Studies and a B.A. in International Studies with emphasis on intercultural communications.
Lauren wrote about overcoming challenges on the Adirondack Mountains La Vida 2000 wilderness survival program: “Hot sun, heavy backpacks, annoying insects, nagging hunger, weary legs, and the day to day struggle of living without the comforts of home challenged me at every turn in the trail. How was I going to make it up one more hill when my legs ached? Would I be able to support a team member who was homesick? Could I make it through the ten-mile run at the end? And what about the solo experience deep within the woods? All of that was exhilarating to me as I solved each situation as it came up, working as part of a team and believing I could achieve.”
“My approach was to seek God and His wisdom. That experience changed my life. I left the trip feeling motivated to overcome other obstacles in my life – whether academic, social, relationship, or spiritual. Forever etched in my heart will be the feeling of utter exhilaration after working so hard and then achieving my goals. The La Vida trip has become a measuring stick for any difficulty that comes my way. I say to myself that if I could make it on La Vida, I can make it through this!”
And Lauren did go on to make it through many more challenges. She achieved much during three study abroad programs. At Universidad de Belgrano, Buenos Aires, Argentina, she studied Spanish language and Latin American history, literature
and culture and traveled through Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Brazil. While at Universidad de Antonio Nebrija, Madrid, Spain, she studied Spanish literature, politics and culture. At Universidad Veritas, San Jose, Costa Rica, she researched deforestation, tropical ecology, and national parks systems. She also traveled throughout Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, making friends and experiencing exciting cultures.
Her first career position was at the Embassy of Spain in Washington, DC, where she was hired to assist the Ministry of Education in facilitating culture and language exchange programs between the United States, Canada, and Spain. Through the Center of Multicultural Human Services in Falls Church, VA, she worked with clients who were victims of violence.
Lauren’s interests and adventures included tutoring, backpacking, hiking, volleyball, snow and water skiing, skydiving, international travel, and developing relationships with people of diverse cultural backgrounds. She loved instructing young children in early movement and gymnastics at the Tumble Bunny or Fit Kids Fun Camp programs directed by her father David, a Farmington Public Schools teacher. With her mom Cindi she enjoyed community service projects and serving as “godmother” to Hartford youngsters Eliza, age three, and Nate, age seven. She was a generous financial supporter of mission trips and urban Hoop-it-Up basketball teams, sharing her time, love and resources with others in order to bring honor and glory to God.
The gifts that she has left us include a longing for heaven, a deeper spiritual walk, and a keen desire to turn a tragedy into something positive. We will always ache because her life on earth was cut short in 2006, but we can also rejoice in discovering a bittersweet peace as her legacy of love and generosity continues through the efforts of all those involved in the Lauren E. Avezzie Charitable Foundation – volunteers, golf tournament sponsors or participants, and donors. Seeing many recipients’ lives being blessed through a foundation in her name is probably the best gift of all.
Cindi & David William Avezzie