Posted by Jeremy Pittenger on August 1, 2014
New and returning students to Aurora University this fall will most likely become familiar with the work of recent graduate Laura Russman. A history major with minors in museum studies, sociology, and American culture and ethics, Russman worked in the AU Schingoethe Center for Native American Cultures and the Doris K. Colby Memorial Archives. The experiences allowed her to contribute extensively to the university’s centennial celebration in 2012 and an award-winning exhibit in the Schingoethe Museum. Through her involvement in the LEAD (Leadership, Education And Development) program, she helped organize the first Sleep Out on the Quad, which has become an annual campus event. She also interned at Naper Settlement Museum.
Russman’s contributions to the university and the community were recognized when she received the Ethel Tapper Humanities Award before graduation. The award is presented to a senior majoring in the humanities who has demonstrated academic and creative achievement during his or her academic career.
“During my time at Aurora University, I developed the confidence I needed to break out of my shell,” she said. “I honestly doubt I would have taken as many chances as I did if it wasn’t for the support of my friends and professors. I know that as I venture out into the world, my friends and professors will continue to support me in everything I do.”
Russman credits Meg Bero, Director of the Schingoethe Center, for encouraging her to apply for the John K. and Judith H. Powell Museum Studies Internship at Naper Settlement. The experience further developed her collections management skills. She also believes her museum work and involvement with LEAD, which allowed her to plan an alternative spring break for AU students wanting to volunteer, taught her to be a good leader and an effective team member.
According to her professors, she was also an excellent student. “I taught her in both history and religion classes and I’ve always thought that she’s a genuine scholar,” said Jonathan Dean, Assistant Professor of Religion. “She’s thoughtful, engaged and fascinated by ideas other than her own, and able to enter sympathetically into other worldviews and contexts.”
Learning at AU—both in and out of the classroom—has inspired Russman to continue her education. “This fall, I will be pursuing a master’s degree in historical administration at Eastern Illinois University,” she said. “I firmly believe that my Aurora University education successfully prepared me for the challenge.”