MUM MBA student Karen Ballinger

Karen speaking at the ChangeMakers event on behalf of student government with Virginia Lagunas, fellow ChangeMakers committee member (photo courtesy of David Lynch Foundation)

With members of the MUM Student Government

Karen Ballinger joined the MUM Student Government in the fall of 2015 and has been a member ever since, which makes her the longest serving member in MUM’s history. Karen brings a wealth of organizational and leadership experience from Lone Star Community College in Houston, Texas, where she was a charter member of student government, managing editor of the student newspaper, and leader of several other student organizations. Currently she is MUM’s student body vice-president and a member of the Sustainability Committee, the Food Committee, the Queer Coalition, and the Pagan Club.

Karen learned the Transcendental Meditation® technique when she was ten years old, but it wasn’t until four decades later that she came to MUM, after raising three children and experiencing toxic mold exposure that left her disabled for years. She enrolled at MUM in 2014 to earn a business degree and regain her health. “I have experienced several jumps in healing,” she said. “I feel ten years younger. I gained back all those years I lost.”

Having graduated with a major in media and communications and a minor in sustainable living, Karen is currently pursuing her MBA in sustainable business part time. During the day, she splits her time between working for the business department and Student Activities.

Karen is passionate about making a difference, and during the past three years she has been writing a student government manual to maintain continuity and support for new members. She has also introduced student leadership training for student government members and other MUM departments. In addition, she helps organize student events and activities, such as the recent ChangeMakers event and Solis outdoor festival. “I want to make this university succeed,” she said. “My strength is that I connect people; to me that’s part of what a leader is.”

Karen’s ultimate goal is to open a chain of bread and breakfast/community centers that will serve as educational facilities for teaching sustainability and utilizing community resources. She will also integrate her previous education and experience in parent resource development by providing a place for families to gather and feel at home.