Throughout this entire spring 2019 semester, our very own (and amazing) Vice President (and former President) of our La Verne chapter of Her Campus, Mulan Novilla, held several events pertaining to helping homeless dogs in the public as her senior project for the University. Mulan is a current senior studying Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations. Mulan is the epitome of an inspirational woman, or rather our friendly neighborhood Spider-Woman*, especially in that she is always there to lend a helping hand to her peers, support and advocate for many social issues, especially within our community, and she is set to graduate from the University of La Verne and has accomplished all that she has so far–all within three years!
In preparation for her senior project this semester, Mulan focused on contacting many news outlets and advertised as much as possible on campus. This resulted in being a successful tactic to draw in the attraction of many students and members of the community to attend her efforts in holding donation events for homeless animals. By the end of her senior project efforts, Mulan hosted one final event at our local coffee shop, Cactus Coffee La Verne on April 24, 2019. During this final event, the goal was to put together doggie bags with the help of volunteers, friends, and supporters in order to donate to local donation stations that she established at pet shops in the city of La Verne.
I had the honor to interview Mulan in regards to her Senior Project and highlight different aspects of her perspective on the entire experience.
Jackie Sanchez: What inspired you to work with organizations, such as Treats for Pups and Mission Wellington, for your senior project?
Mulan Novilla: I met Pina two years ago on a domestic violence talk, where I sat with Wellington Sr. and he became my buddy for the duration of her talk. We met afterwards and I interviewed her for my Journalism 100 assignment. I learned of Treats for Pups and their mission to help the homeless dogs of Los Angeles and the surrounding area, and I instantly fell in love with what they were doing. Pina told me that only 5% of homeless shelters take owners with dogs, which is why they would rather stay out in the streets than leave their dog. No one really thinks about the dogs and how important they are to their owners, and often, they give whatever they have to their dogs first. I wanted to help Pina out with her mission, and bring it to the dog lovers of La Verne.
Jackie: Why was this specific project important to you?
Mulan: This specific project of bringing #MissionWellington Treats For Pups to La Verne is important to me because I wanted to help share this mission to this city that is full of dog lovers. When I got the news that Wellington Sr. passes away, I wanted to join in on sharing his legacy, and this was a perfect opportunity to make a difference and utilize the knowledge and skills I’ve developed as a Communications major at ULV. The whole process: leading up to the event, having the event, and post-event showed how powerful #MissionWellington’s message can be to the La Verne community and its potential to reach so many more.
Jackie: What went into the thought process of establishing two permanent donation stations for these doggie bags for homeless dogs in the city of La Verne?
Mulan: Katie’s Pet Depot and Unleashed were the two closest pet stores to the University of La Verne. I wanted to keep the drop off locations in the center of all activity in La Verne, and I knew that Foothill Blvd is always a busy place. When I met with the store managers to discuss putting up a #MissionWellington drop off box, they were super enthusiastic about it too! I was very lucky to have set up a #MissionWellington drop off location in such a compassionate community that always gives back to those in need.
Jackie: What other social issues do you hope to bring change to in our world?
Mulan: Another social issue that is close to my heart is the misconception and underrepresentation of Asians and Asian Americans on campus (and in general). I know that ULV senior Josh Bay put together a panel for La Verne leaders to discuss these issues, and I loved it! (Shameless self promo to go read my article on it HAHA). I want to also help out the AAPI community in some way by volunteering with an organization that supports AAPI representation and visibility in the entertainment industry. That perfectly combines my career with a cause that I really care about.
Jackie: What was your end-goal for your senior project?
Mulan: My end goal for my senior project was to create a lasting message that encourages the La Verne community to get involved in helping homeless dogs in need. I see the love they have for their own pets, and I hoped their compassion would overflow to these dogs that don’t have anything. I want this mission to go beyond the event I set up for my senior project, and in just two weeks I’ve witnessed the La Verne community stepping up. Just last Friday, one week after my event, the donation boxes were overflowing with donations! It’s taken a life of it’s own and I have so much confidence that #MissionWellington will stay in the heart of La Verne for a while.
Jackie: How do you think this project has challenged you?
Mulan: This project definitely challenged me when it came to communicating with my client. Because it is a nonprofit, we don’t have as many resources nor a full time crew working on it. It was just me organizing and planning stuff, and sometimes it was hard to get approvals from Pina due to her busy schedule. This is a realistic problem most public relations professionals deal with, because we are just there to serve the client’s interests no matter what. But as the event date came closer, Pina and I got into a great groove of communication, finalizing details and scheduling meetings. Getting the media to come to this small community event was also very difficult, because La Verne is such a small city and nonprofits hardly get covered in news outlets. I was ecstatic to have Spectrum News 1 cover the event, because they were the only media outlet that came! Big win for me as a PR major, and big win for #MissionWellington!
Jackie: How do you think attending the University of La Verne has impacted you?
Mulan: The courses I took at ULV taught me the theory and methods of creating strategic communications campaigns, and I applied the processes I learned to my own project. I owe everything I know to my professors, who gave me amazing, unique learning opportunities. I also developed a heart for the community through my exposure to all of the community projects ULV is involved in! ULV showed me how important it is to serve and use what I know to help others in need.
Above all, Mulan Novilla has definitely made her impact on campus and in our La Verne community; she is one student that I am 100% grateful for crossing paths with here at the University of La Verne and it has been an honor to work with her as leaders in our Her Campus, La Verne chapter and develop a friendship. Due to her hard-work, drive, genuine personality, and honesty, I believe that Mulan is heading toward a great path for her future and I know that she has La Verne to thank for giving her as many opportunities and great experiences as it has, we love you and believe in you Mulan- keep making us proud!