Randolph-Macon College student Laura Briere ’12, a history major and secondary-education minor, spent the past semester student-teaching U.S. History at Stonewall Jackson Middle School in Mechanicsville, Virginia.
“It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life—exhausting, yet so much fun,” says Briere. “At first, it was a little scary; I couldn’t believe that I was suddenly responsible for 119 students. And then I got excited and thought, ‘Wow. Look at what I can do here. Let’s see how far these kids can go.’”
On campus, Briere has been very involved with the International Interest Group (IIG), which aims to prepare members of the R-MC community for life in an increasingly diverse world.
“I really enjoyed being able to put on school-wide programs and perform community service with international students,” says Briere, who lives in the International House. The IIG hosts a variety of events on campus, from Salsa Night to an international soccer game. “I have learned invaluable lessons from my international friends,” she says.
In 2011, Briere received the the Simpson-Cottrell Research Grant, which provided her with the resources to “really put my heart into Native American studies. With this grant I was able to dedicate a semester to studying the Nez Perce and Sioux peoples. I am very interested in Native American studies, and I discovered a parallel history between the two groups, both of whom live in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.”
“My professors are like family to me,” says Briere, who transferred to R-MC at the beginning of her junior year. “My advisor, Professor Bergmann (history), has been my biggest champion. He always encouraged me to explore different areas of research and held me to a very high standard. Professor Porter also assisted me in numerous ways. As a transfer student, I worried I wouldn’t graduate on time, and I will never forget when Professor Porter promised me that the history department would make sure I succeeded.”
Briere’s post-R-MC plans reflect her desire to teach and her commitment to instilling confidence in young people. She plans to teach history and recently interviewed at several schools.
“I want to be the same kind of teacher that my professors have been for me,” she says. “I hope to work in a rural, lower-income area and provide opportunities for students who struggle academically. I want to give them the same message my R-MC professors always gave me: Give it your very best, and you will go far.”