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.”