ATLANTA – Laura G. Schroeder (M.S.W. ‘00), an instructional services specialist in the School of Social Work’s Professional Excellence Program, is the second of three women in her family who attended and/or graduated from Georgia State University then returned for her career.
Jean Gunter, the matriarch, attended Georgia State between 1945 and 1947. She returned to campus in the 1980s to work full-time in what was then called the College of Education.
Schroeder’s sister, Beth Gunter Dycus (B.F.A ‘91), was the next to graduate from Georgia State. And nearly a decade later, Schroeder claimed her Georgia State credentials.
“Like my mother, I found my calling later in life,” she said.
Schroeder and her mother earned master’s degrees in their mid-thirties. After doing so, they each embarked on career changes that would ultimately lead them to mentoring college students.
Jean Gunter worked as an administrative assistant before eventually becoming an advisor to undergraduate students.
“My mom loved working with young people,” said Laura. “She was constantly seeking to do work she felt passionate about.” Schroeder recalls the excitement her mother showed when she spoke about helping to prepare Georgia State students for their futures.
For Jean, since deceased, working to help students align their passions and talents with a degree choice was more than a job, it was a calling, said Schroeder: “At the time my mom worked here, I was a teenager. I didn’t really understand the importance of the impact she had on young people.”
She now admits it’s had a profound influence on how she practices her career.
Schroeder worked in healthcare as a clinical social worker after graduating from the School of Social Work. However, while she thrived on providing services to people with critical needs, she also longed to use her creative talents.
She found a great opportunity to combine both desires – and a second career – after returning to work at Georgia State in 2003. Hired to execute a couple of grant projects through the School of Social Work, Schroeder eventually joined its Professional Excellence Program, a grant-funded program that provides training and professional development for staff of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS).
A self-titled “learning producer,” she creates web-based programs used to train DFCS staff. Her webinar series, “Ask the Expert,” led to her passion for storytelling through digital media, and her “Community Heroes” video series was chosen as part of the “We Are Child Welfare” campaign for the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute.
Like her mother, Schroeder is led by her passion and desire to help people. She hires graduate assistants (GA) every semester and works to help them identify their skill-sets, interests and passions. Her goal is to help them navigate their way to their degrees.
“Whatever career works for you at the moment, choose it,” she said. “Your choice is not the end of the road, because we are constantly evolving and becoming our best selves.”
Story by Victoria Jessie