News & Stories
January 11, 2023


Nonprofit work energizes economics major

Berry was an easy choice for Caroline Lanier, offering an “unparalleled” community and a campus that “feels like home.”

The route through college was less clear, but the Marietta, Georgia, native soon found direction, thanks in part to a transformational learning experience her freshman year, coupled with a student work placement that proved to be “just the right fit.” Now a few months shy of graduation, the senior economics major boasts an impressive resume with experience at several nonprofits – including the Carter Center – and a vision for how she can leverage her passion for helping others in meaningful ways.

Key to her journey were lessons learned in The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, an introductory-level honors course taught by Professor of Economics Lauren Heller that provided “great insight into the importance of sustainable change-making and global responsibility.” This started Lanier down the path of a major in economics, which offered a new lens for viewing the world.

“Economics has taught me the importance of sustainable, long-term visions for bringing about change,” she explained. “Short-term fixes, like food or shelter, are great starts, but real change happens through long-term solutions like education, creative partnerships and empowerment.”

Inspired to pursue opportunities in the nonprofit sphere, Lanier received support and encouragement through her work in Berry’s Center for Personal and Professional Development (an on-campus career-building resource), where she currently serves as student engagement coordinator.

“My supervisors and mentors in CPPD were crucial in helping me land my internships,” Lanier praised. “They encouraged me to apply to places and positions that seemed out of reach.”

She landed her first internship with Make-A-Wish Georgia, where she enjoyed the “fun and engaging” culture while supporting fundraising efforts for an organization dedicated to providing hope to children facing serious illness.

“Short-term fixes, like food or shelter, are great starts, but real change happens through ... education, creative partnerships and empowerment.”

— Caroline Lanier


Her work, which included creation of grant applications and other donor-centric communi­cations, helped familiarize Lanier with nonprofit structure and prepared her for her next role at the Carter Center. There, she continued her work in fundraising, conducting donor research and assisting in the creation of articles and briefings for organizational leaders meeting with the Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development, among others.

Concurrently, she interned part-time with A Teen’s Choice, a local nonprofit seeking to empower young women in Rome. This mission was of particular interest to Lanier, who earlier in life had been profoundly influenced by the difficulties faced by women she had encountered while serving abroad.

“As a woman pursuing an education and career myself, I see the value of my own empowerment and want other women to have the choice for themselves to pursue an education, a career, motherhood, etc.,” she emphasized.

Work alongside A Teen’s Choice founder Ciara McKnight proved both inspirational and insightful, resulting in a “growth-filled” experience providing an up-close view of “what it looks like to found and run your own nonprofit.”

All these experiences offered valuable lessons in the practical application of business principles and economics that Lanier now is drawing upon for her Berry honors thesis, which focuses on women’s empowerment in developing nations by looking at how mothers with very young children invest money received through a government cash transfer system.

Following graduation, she looks forward to putting her Berry-earned education and experiences to work locally and then beyond, perhaps one day starting her own nonprofit focusing on women’s empowerment or health.

Regardless of her eventual destination, Lanier is confident in her preparation, concluding, “Berry has provided a great start for me along this exciting journey ahead.”

Editor’s note: This story was written by student Amani Pyron, who has worked as an assistant writer and editor in Berry’s Office of Digital Marketing and Communications.

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