Laura Jenny

Laura Jenny is a junior at Harvard College concentrating in Integrative Biology, with a secondary focus in Global Health and Health Policy. Born and raised in Leominster, MA she witnessed first-hand the struggles of many underserved youth in central Massachusetts, which prompted her to co-found Protecting Law Enforcement and Youth (PLAY). PLAY teaches youth how to safely interact with police and aims to reduce tensions between youth and police in Central Massachusetts and across the country. PLAY partnered with various programs, such as the Boys and Girls Club of America and Strategies for Youth, to design curriculum and present a youth training program. Laura has served as a representative for youth at the Police Youth Engagement Conference and has discussed the plight of underserved youth in her community with educational and community leaders and the office of the Governor to influence public policy. As a Cheng Fellow, Laura will research and document the types of trauma experienced by youth in her community with the goal of raising awareness and identifying opportunities for additional support amongst youth-facing agencies and advocates. Laura will work under the guidance of Professor Deb Azrael, Trauma researcher at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center of the T. H. Chan School of Public Health. She will also work with Attorney Lisa Thurau (CEO of Strategies for Youth), to provide tools for youth that can give them the agency to address and overcome the effects of trauma, in addition to positively influencing public policies dealing with juvenile justice and child welfare. At Harvard College, Laura has served as a Case Manager for the youth homeless shelter Y2Y, on the community service board of Eleganza and as a violinist and board member of the Harvard Pops Orchestra. Laura also works in the Naomi Pierce Lab under Dr. Lori Shapiro investigating plant diseases, insects and their microbiomes to combat crop failure, economic devastation and food shortage.