Baker’s Dozen: Karen Lawrence


Karen Lawrence

Alexandra Weimer, Arts & Features Editor

One does not need to know senior Karen Lawrence long to know she has an untamable and adventurous spirit. She spent all of her time in high school riding rodeo, grew up doing Irish dance competitions and has an unquenchable thirst to climb anything and everything. 

“Is it bad that when I go into a room I try to find all the ways I could climb up the wall?” Lawrence said. 

Continuing her passion for climbing, Lawrence spent her spring semester abroad in Tanzania on an SFS program.

“I knew I wanted to do a program like this because it focused primarily on experiential learning as opposed to the regular academic set up we get at Colgate.” 

Her off-campus experience consisted of splitting her time in a home-stay with a local family in Arusha, camping out in national parks and doing an independent study project (ISP) at the location of her choice. For her ISP, Lawrence chose to study the impact of secondary education on girl’s perceptions of their futures in rural versus urban Tanzania.

While Lawrence took three weeks of intensive Swahili lessons during her homestay, the town of Longido where she chose to conduct her research was in a region that was predominantly Maasai, requiring her to communicate through a translator. 

Lawrence also spent time helping her friend conduct research on birthing practices and concepts of motherhood. 

“A typical day for us was walking a mile or so to the first house, where someone in the household would bring us giant cups of super sweet milk tea, even though it was 100 degrees some days with a UV index of 11. Then we would walk to the next house and do it all over again. It was super humbling to hear the things these women had gone through and how much weight these girls put on receiving an education,” Lawrence said. 

After completing her semester abroad, Lawrence has officially traveled to each of the seven continents. Some of her favorite cities include Shanghai, China, Madrid, Spain, Sydney, Australia, Vancouver, Canada and Copenhagen, Denmark. 

“Tanzania was very different from anywhere I had been, but it’s hard to sum it up at all. Tanzania as a whole country is home to so many ethnic groups that it’s really hard to give a good overall of how the country is. I can say for certain that it was hot and humid and we ate a lot of beans and rice,” Lawrence said.