Laura Linden was drawn to Wittenberg by factors that usually don’t come into play in most students’ college search. Having severe allergies to some things standard to residence hall life, as well an allergy to wheat known as Celiac disease, Linden needed to find a place suited for her to take classes and function in her daily life.
Wittenberg provided an environment where she could do just that. “Part of the reason I came here originally is that they were willing to work with me,” Linden said. “Many other places weren’t willing to work with you in terms of making adjustments for allergies and eating.”
Although her attempt at residence hall life was cut short by migraines caused by her allergies, Linden persisted in pursuing her educational dreams at Wittenberg. She began to commute from her home in nearby Troy, Ohio, and she was able to meet with the chef in the university’s Center Dining Room to discuss a plan to allow her to eat there despite her allergy to wheat.
Things started to work out for Laura in a very positive way. After taking a general education computer class she fell in love with it and found she couldn’t get enough. Associate Professor of Computer Science Nancy Saks took notice of Linden’s aptitude and recommended she switch her major.
“One of the best things about Wittenberg is that whatever class you take, the number of people in the class is small enough that the professor knows you by name,” Linden said. “It makes them very approachable, and you feel like they’re more willing to be flexible because they know who you are.”
The intimacy of Wittenberg’s campus culture made all the difference for Linden.
Almost halfway into her college career Linden began suffering further health problems, which made her too ill to attend classes and led to her missing an entire semester.
“If I had gone to any other place I would have had to drop out completely,” Linden said. “All of my professors at that point were really willing to work with me and make it possible for me to continue taking classes.”
Linden formed close bonds with her professors, including Computational Science Director Eric Stahlberg.
“I saw in Laura someone with huge potential and frustrated by factors that complicated her ability to demonstrate this in the classroom,” Stahlberg said. “I have great respect for her determination, commitment to success and ability to even mentor by example some rising juniors.”
Linden returned to Wittenberg and is now in the process of completing her degree while also participating in two valuable internship experiences. She worked with Wright Patterson Air Force base on scientific visualization, and she has also worked with Wittenberg’s Upward Bound program to introduce science and computational science to area students.
Linden’s next project will be an independent study in which she will create a short 3D animated film using Autodisk Maya 2008. “I’ve been working with that for my internship,” she said. “My independent study is really an offspring of the internships that I have had. I’m totally excited about it.”
Linden knows that her Wittenberg experience and the close contact she has had with caring professors has prepared her well for her ambitious professional goals.
“I’ve been surprised by the quality of the professors,” she said. “That makes classes that aren’t in your major a lot better if you have a good professor or someone who can really be enthusiastic about what they’re teaching.
“I’m hoping to get some kind of a job with computer graphics, either animation or 3D modeling with story telling. My dream job would be to work with Pixar or DreamWorks. I totally want to start the next Microsoft. I have tons of good ideas for things.”
- Written by Ronni Appenbrink '09
- Photo by Robbie Gantt