Dr. Craig Seager has launched the Lauren T. Remedios Foundation, a nonprofit founded in remembrance of Lauren Remedios, a 2014 graduate of the Clinton School who passed away suddenly in March 2020.
Seager, Lauren’s husband and father of their two children, created the foundation with the mission to help support causes and organizations that were meaningful to Lauren. The foundation and its website were officially unveiled on Tuesday, March 30 in commemoration of the one-year anniversary of her passing.
“In May or June of last year, I started thinking about ways to honor Lauren’s life,” Seager said, reflecting on the timeline of how the foundation came together. “It was especially hard because, at the time with COVID, we weren’t able to do a funeral or a celebration of life. That was all put on hold. These things had just been brewing in me, and I just felt like something needed to be done.”
When a program was created in Lauren’s name at India’s Barefoot College, Seager’s mind was sparked. He began developing an idea to build something that would continue Lauren’s legacy in a way she would have wanted – by giving back to the organizations that were most important to her.
The first organization that came to mind was the Clinton School of Public Service.
“I knew it was going to be for the Clinton School because the school was such an important part of her life and a major catalyst for change in her life,” he explained. “Doing this was a way for her to give back to the school, a way to honor her, and a way for her name to live on in perpetuity.”
Enrolling at the Clinton School was both a personal and professional turning point for Lauren. She was involved in public service efforts in her home country of India, and the Clinton School’s public service curriculum, field service projects, professors, and classmates helped rekindle her purpose. The experience helped her find who she was as a person.
“She found herself and discovered her passion,” Seager said. “She loved the faculty, she loved her classmates, and she even loved the coursework. At home, I saw a huge change in her demeanor and her morale. Her spirits just went sky high.”
Lauren’s connections to the Clinton School continued past graduation. She received a fellowship to work full-time with one of her field service partners, Heifer International, and stayed in close touch with another, Barefoot College.
Professionally, the Clinton School’s lessons of program planning, evaluation, and data analysis were reflected in her positions with Heifer, where she introduced the organization to a metric for assessing women’s empowerment, and with Winrock International, where she was hired as an Evidence and Evaluation Services Manager in 2019.
On a personal level, she regularly attended local Clinton School events and served on the school’s alumni committee. She stayed in close touch with classmates and professors, even welcoming them to her home for dinners each month.
In so many ways, Lauren was an integral and cherished part of the Clinton School family.
“The Clinton School was such an important part of her life,” Seager said.
After meeting with Alex Thomas, the Clinton School’s Director of Enrollment, Seager decided that the foundation’s initial scholarships should be dedicated to funding field service projects.
“Let’s create some scholarships that will allow students to work on the projects they want to work on,” he said. “Because that’s what Lauren would want.”
Seager knows how much Lauren’s field service projects meant to her – specifically, her international project with Heifer International and Capstone work with Barefoot College – and knows that she would want to make those types of experiences available and affordable to all students.
“If there was a project that was having to be passed on by a student because of funding, that’s how we wanted to help,” Seager said. “Lauren would have wanted to help them do great work, just like she did.”
The foundation will also offer scholarship opportunities to second-year Clinton School students in need of financial assistance. Next year, Seager hopes to finalize scholarship plans for international students. All projects and scholarships that are funded will be cataloged through the foundation’s website.
As a whole, the foundation is an extension of what Lauren loved, both in the organizations it will serve, and in the people who have built it.
In addition to Seager, who will serve as President of the Lauren T. Remedios Foundation, two of Lauren’s close friends will serve in leadership roles.
Indu Rai, one of Lauren’s best friends from her home in India, is the foundation’s Vice President. Rusalina Ivanova, a close friend of Lauren’s from their time together at Henderson State University, will serve as Treasurer.
Dr. Ellen Fitzpatrick, one of Lauren’s Clinton School professors and a former colleague at Heifer International, wrote Lauren’s professional biography for the foundation’s website. Two more of Lauren’s friends – Negeen Ghasedi and Carly Cate – are helping write a personal biography.
A group of Lauren’s Clinton School friends and classmates will help comprise the foundation’s scholarship review team. Aliyah Sarkar, Cathrine Schwader, Katie Powell, and Marisa Nelson will form the committee to review applications and deliver recommendations on scholarship recipients.
Lauren’s sister, Kimberly Remedios-Smith, was instrumental in helping Seager process his emotions in the weeks and months following Lauren’s passing last spring. His friend and financial advisor, Brad Rodrigues, encouraged him to push forward with the idea for the foundation and helped make it possible.
Seager added that he would not have been able to do any of this without the love and support of his family, in addition to the support of his friends and colleagues at the University of Central Arkansas, including Sherita Kern.
“It was very important to me to make sure that everyone who was close to her and wants to contribute to Lauren’s celebration of life had the opportunity to help with this project,” Seager said.