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Do the right thing

Helping others is in Laura Collins’ DNA. The daughter and granddaughter of Baptist missionaries, Collins, L’04, traveled the world as a child, cultivating an ardent interest in both service and other cultures.

“The central tenet I got from my family was, ‘We are on this planet to serve other humans, to make the world a better place,’ ” she said.

That giving spirit led her to pursue public-interest and human-rights law at Northeastern, where she could engage with people who would be committed to social justice. Beyond the classroom, Collins fully immersed herself in human-rights undertakings, with co-ops in Argentina and Malaysia and research in international human-rights law.

Then, although the rest of the globe still beckoned, Collins landed in the mountains of North Carolina after graduation. “The world is too interconnected for me to ever believe that local and global can be separated,” she said.

Through Pisgah Legal Services, Collins provides pro-bono civil litigation for persons who could not otherwise afford critical representation. She helps prevent foreclosures and credit-card lawsuits that would make a family or senior citizen homeless, after years already spent struggling due to unemployment or disability. Collins has also gone beyond individual cases to co-write key pieces of now-implemented state consumer-protection legislation.

“What Northeastern did was expand my idea of how I could use my law degree in the public interest,” Collins said. “It showed me the tremendous range of things that I could do to make a difference in my community, and the world at large.”