Staff Spotlight: Laura Britten

Laura Britten
Meet Laura Britten, coordinator for Student Success, Diversity and Inclusion in the CASNR Dean's Office.
September 27, 2021

Tell us about yourself. 

I am from the western suburbs of Chicago, and a recent transplant to Lincoln. I first came to UNL to pursue my bachelor’s degree in psychology, spent a year here after graduating and absolutely fell in love. Not only did I meet my now husband, but I also fell in love with the city of Lincoln. I moved back to Chicago to pursue a master’s degree in mental health counseling because I thought I wanted to be a therapist. During my studies, I started volunteering for a local rape crisis center as a hotline advocate. I found a real passion for advocacy work, so instead of pursuing a therapy career I accepted a full-time job as a medical/legal advocate for sexual assault survivors at the non-profit agency I was volunteering. I always knew I loved working in direct service, but I really developed a passion for training and leadership development. The work I do is always grounded in an empowerment-model, and the way I approach working with students is no different. I meet them where they’re at, provide them with options, and collaborate on taking their next steps. I am passionate about working with students who have experienced adversity, oppression, and even trauma, and appreciate the privilege of instilling growth & achievement in their lives. I hope to one day pursue a doctorate degree and create training programs that achieve growth within DEI on college campuses.

What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

I am the coordinator for Student Success, Diversity & Inclusion in the CASNR Dean’s Office. I co-coordinate CASNR CARES, a touch point for students, faculty, staff and parents when there are questions, concerns or situations that affect a student’s educational experience. I co-teach AGRI42, the zero-credit online start smart course that first-year CASNR students complete as an introduction to the university. I also co-facilitate CASNR Emerging Leaders in Diversity, a program established to promote inclusive excellence in CASNR students by getting them involved in leadership and diversity initiatives both on and off campus.

What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

As a student, choosing UNL was seemingly random. I love to tell people the story that while I was in high school, I came home one day, and there was a postcard addressed to me on my kitchen table from UNL. I threw it away because “Where even is Nebraska?” After visiting (and looking it up on a map) I truly felt drawn to this place, and the decision to make this my home was easy. Returning to UNL as a staff member has been the most rewarding opportunity since finding that postcard. I have found new growth here in CASNR. I am enlightened and inspired by the students I work with. I feel overjoyed and excited for the potential this role has in creating lasting, important change on this campus.

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?

I love the fact that diversity is acknowledged and celebrated here, and I love that diversity can be found everywhere on this campus. Those working in higher education do their very best to foster a sense of community and belonging, and I love when that is represented in intentional DEI work. Working in education promotes lifelong learning. It’s such a blessing to be surrounded by open-minded people who are humble enough to admit that they don’t know everything but are willing to learn and maybe have some difficult conversations along the way. It’s so important for diversity to be represented in the faculty, staff and students of a university, and I love the impact that can have on the climate and environment of the institution.   

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I have not yet achieved much in my short life, but I have memorized the entire 2 hours and 45 minutes of Hamilton and would certainly have no shame singing it in front of a crowd.

What is something that most people don't know about you?

I geek out over rodeo. You would probably never guess it by looking at me, or knowing my background, but I truly love watching rodeo. My very first time watching rodeo was my senior year of college. A friend took me on a Friday night to watch the UNL rodeo team at the Lancaster Event Center. I had so much fun that I brought my boyfriend back the following day! While in Chicago I was in a rodeo drought- as you can imagine- but the second I moved back to Lincoln, I booked tickets to the National High School Finals Rodeo, and the flame was reignited. I literally cannot wait to attend more rodeo competitions. 

What is your life like outside of work?

Being back in Lincoln has brought me so much joy. I am still constantly soaking it in! I spend most of my time with my amazing husband, Adam, and our pup, Ivy. We love doing things outside like bike riding and taking long walks. We love the brewery scene around Lincoln, especially when they have live music. I absolutely love musical theatre, and I’m super excited that theatres have begun reopening! I really love to travel and explore new places. But the real key to my heart is coffee, so you can always find me with a cup of coffee nearby.