Friday, October 31, 2014

Alumni Spotlight: LeeAnn Larson

By LeeAnn Larson, class of 2002, Integrated Language Arts major 

My current position is Professional Academic Advisor, working with students in the College of Education, Department of Psychology and any freshman who is undeclared. But, this isn’t where I began.

I taught 7th and 8th grade Language Arts for three years, post-graduation, in Medina City Schools. Following that position I found myself working for The Office of Admission at Ashland University. I had the opportunity to travel around to high schools in Ohio and basically brag about how wonderful Ashland University is and how much I loved my experience as a student. I worked in Admissions from 2006 until 2011.

I then moved on to Coordinator of Retention because I longed to have meaningful relationships with students that were built on more than recruitment—relationships that gave me the opportunity to make a difference. I held that position for two years.

In May 2013 I moved into the Professional Advising position and it is my favorite position thus far.

I received both my undergraduate (Integrated Language Arts) and my graduate (M.Ed. Curriculum Instruction with a focus in literacy) education degrees from Ashland so I am very familiar with the program(s) and their requirements. I am also very familiar with the professors and the expectations they have for their students.

In my current role I have the opportunity to work with students, helping them navigate the transition from high school to college. I get to interact with those who are unsure about what they want to do with their lives, and also those students who’ve wanted to teach since they entered kindergarten. I learned in my education classes the value of building rapport with students early and it is something that I seem to do well.

My student years at Ashland University really helped to prepare me for life. Majoring in Integrated Language Arts taught me more than how to be an English teacher. It taught me how to read, write, and communicate effectively. These skills are necessary in any career, and I value the degree to which they were developed during my time. I also learned the importance of being a lifelong learner and this is something I strongly encourage with each of my advisees.

The professors at this institution are top-notch and every professor I learned from I enjoyed. However, when students ask me about my favorite professors I reply Dr. Weaver, from the English department, and Dr. Knickerbocker, from the College of Education. Students will ask if they were my favorites because, ‘they were easy.’ No. No, they were not easy, and that is part of the reason why they were my favorites. Both of these professors challenged me to dig deeper, to work past the superficial, and to find the potential that cannot be found in gliding through an easy class.

When I graduated from AU in 2002 I was certain I’d be a classroom teacher until retirement. Twelve years later, I still consider myself a teacher, just not in the traditional sense. I get the opportunity every single day to teach, guide, encourage, support and challenge students. To me, those are the best parts of being a teacher, and these tasks can be done in and outside of the classroom.