Alumni Stories

Laura Curkendall (C’11)

As if a triple major in sociology, political science, and economics wasn't enough, Laura Curkendall also worked on campus, served as student body president, and directed a Public Affairs Conference (PAC) during her four years at Principia College.

As part of her sociology major, Laura met the internship requirement as an overnight supervisor at a homeless shelter for young adults in Seattle.  “It was quite intense at times, and was excellent practical experience,” Laura comments. A study abroad program in Barbados her sophomore year provided another internship opportunity—at the island nation’s National Council on Substance Abuse. While there, Laura attended a national conference on family law, wrote a monthly newsletter column, and even met the Prime Minister!

Laura just graduated from the University of Chicago with an MA in International Relations, focusing on human rights issues. Her master’s thesis examined the role of women in Mexican drug cartels, building upon research she completed for her sociology capstone at Principia.

“I felt well prepared from my research and writing experience at Prin,” Laura says. “Even more importantly, I was prepared to metaphysically address a very difficult and depressing topic. I struggled with this while . . .  at Prin and talked with one of my professors about it. I felt so supported and inspired after these discussions.” 

Citing her involvement in the PAC, student government, and two study abroad programs (the other to Vietnam), Laura believes that such experiences “come by attending a small college like Prin. The opportunities are there, and if you step up to the plate they can be terrific preparation for professional life.”

Laura has set her sights on working for an international nonprofit organization and also plans to pursue a PhD. She and her husband, Warren, relocated to Seattle this summer, where Laura is looking forward to entering the nonprofit sector “with the skills and compassion that I built at Prin, and making a positive difference in the world.” 

“I’ve pushed myself a lot more here than I would have anywhere else because of the academics and trying to balance everything. It’s made me a better person.”