"Faculty at Luther saw skills and talents in me that I hadn't seen in myself. They encouraged me, pushed me, and helped me discover my passions."
Laura believes that the experiences that affected her most during her time at Luther were the extracurricular activities she participated in, relationships with faculty, and the opportunity to study abroad.
“I was a resident assistant, a leader of SAC (Student Activities Council) Homecoming, on Student Senate, and participated in many other extracurricular activities,” Laura says. “Through these activities I gained interpersonal skills, confidence, and great friendships with faculty and students.”
She also feels that she was greatly affected by the relationships with faculty. “Faculty at Luther saw skills and talents in me that I hadn't seen in myself,” she says. “They encouraged me, pushed me, and helped me discover my passions.”
Studying abroad had a positive effect on her, too. “It made me fall in love with other places and cultures and encouraged me to be a more globally minded citizen,” she says.
Laura feels that all of these experiences helped prepare her for life after Luther. She says, “I left knowing that I matter, my voice matters, I need to be a global citizen, and I can make an impact in the world.”
Laura came to Luther thinking she would study biology and go to medical school. “During my sophomore year, my advisor asked me if I had ever considered doing anything else,” she says. “I told her I had thought about teaching but that I had chosen medicine because it more fully aligned with my skills and passions.”
The advisor showed her a drawer filled with letters from past students, showing the impact of teachers, and helped her process through the reasoning for her career choice. “Through this conversation, I decided to sign up for a J-Term course where I observed and taught in a seventh grade life science classroom. I realized my passion for education at that moment and switched from pre-medicine to education.” Through this switch, an education professor encouraged her to attend an all-female, leadership conference and told her she should apply for a Fulbright. “I did both of these things, which have impacted me in huge ways,” she says.
After graduation, Laura spent a year working as an English teaching assistant in Ambato, Ecuador, through the Fulbright program. “After returning to the states, I went to Colorado to do my student teaching,” she says. “My first placement (for Spanish) was at the Girls Athletic Leadership School (GALS) in Denver, Colorado. Before I finished student teaching at my second placement, I was offered a position as a part-time biology teacher and part-time Spanish support at GALS. By second semester, I was given a full-time teaching position as a biology teacher at GALS. I recently received the Urban Leaders Fellowship where I will work with school board members on charter school authorization and work with a non-profit called TeenWorks in Indianapolis, Indiana.”
Take risks and try at least one thing that scares you. It might be a class, an extracurricular, talking with someone you wouldn't normally talk with, or attending an event. Luther is a community that's filled with supportive and wonderful people. Use that to your advantage to discover new things about yourself, your interests, and the impact you can have on the world.
—Laura Harney '13