Rachel Lautigar’s experiences at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette have prepared her for a career in public policy — thanks, in large part, to the mentorship she got from faculty while working on her undergraduate research.
“My favorite part about studying at UL Lafayette is the quality of faculty to which even undergraduate students have access,” she said. “The research I have gotten to assist in while at UL Lafayette has prepared me well for my prospective future in graduate school, has given me many different types of outlets in all sorts of subfields of my majors through which to explore my interests, and developed me as a budding academic while reassuring my appreciation and commitment to higher education.”
That research included developing an exhibit for the Department of History’s Museum on the Move in Dr. Liz Skilton’s environmental history (HIST 371) class. The class traveled across the state to collect oral histories and research about Hurricane Harvey’s impact in Southwest Louisiana for the exhibit.
Rachel also completed an undergraduate thesis about the Chernobyl disaster.
“While I am still at the beginning of my career in policy studies, I feel confident that the practices I have been taught and the research methods I have developed while studying at UL Lafayette will launch me well into the world of analytical thinking and critically considering the world around me,” she said. “And I cannot wait to see what all I am able to do with my degree after graduating.”
How Rachel Chose UL Lafayette
Rachel moved to Lafayette from Bastrop, La., because she wanted a new challenge.
“I wanted to attend a large in-state university that was in a new area I wasn’t yet familiar with,” she said. “UL Lafayette felt like home the first time I visited, and the political science department faculty and staff really helped sell me on the program and the University.
“After meeting with the department head, I sat in on an entry level American Politics class and was in awe,” she said. “The idea that I would get to study so intensely the subjects and questions that flooded my mind daily — how to govern a society, what kinds of governments certain societies favor, how specific policies affect these societies, and the philosophies behind those policies — I couldn’t wait to enroll and begin my journey with higher education in this department.”
Making Her Mark
Alongside her classes, Rachel became involved in student organizations across campus and the state. She served as the Student Government Association president and as the student board member on the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.
“These roles have taught me to be patient, to be good stewards of students’ trust, advocacy, and resources,” she said, “and that apathy does nothing for progress.”
She joined the Speech and Debate Team, which taught her “the value of practice, dedication, argumentation, and how to self-edit when speaking publicly.” She founded The Pulse Campus Ministry, served as co-president of the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society, and was president of the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Student Supporter Organization. She worked as a junior pollster at the Trafalgar Group, and she was the 2018 Homecoming Queen.
Her academic and extracurricular experiences have helped her forge and strengthen relationships with her professors and peers.
“My favorite part of my programs at UL Lafayette has been the relationships I have been privileged to form with my professors and classmates,” she said, “and the knowledge that these relationships will only continue to grow after my graduation.”