Faculty Spotlight: Von Wallmenich

EMILY HENDERSON
STAFF WRITER

Laura von Wallmenich, an English professor here at Alma, is a fantastic teacher with much experience under her belt.

“I went to a small liberal arts school in Maine called Colby College,” said von Wallmenich. She originally wanted to major in Biology, but learned that English was her passion.

“I spent a year abroad at King’s College in London so I could study both subjects in more depth; I thought seriously about pursuing that in graduate school,” she said. Her areas of interest during college were Old and Middle English, sexuality and desire in African American women’s literature and helping to run her college’s radio station.

“I loved the late evening shift best; I am a night owl. My show was called Inky Bloaters (a song reference) and featured a lot of world and alternative—with the occasional political rant thrown in,” she said of her time as a radio host.

Von Wallmenich also discussed why she wanted to become a professor, saying, “I get to pass along the tools that help transform how people think and see the world. I get to be a guide as they encounter literature that reveals new perspectives. I get to be a part of helping students grow into their potential. That is a pretty amazing thing.”

Her passions in life go beyond teaching, though. She participates in activities such as the faculty governance, she’s the yearbook advisor and she co-advises Pine River Anthology here at Alma College.

Her reach goes beyond Alma College and into the community, as she is a proud member of the Alma Democratic Party.

Von Wallmenich is a woman of many passions, being interested in not only academics, but many other activities: “In my younger days, when I lived in the Pacific Northwest, I spent a lot of time kayaking, hiking and rock climbing. Now, you are more likely to find me curled up on a couch with a good book in my spare time.”

Von Wallmenich is no stranger to travel, which is evident in her background. “I arrived in Alma in 2002, nervous about moving to a small, Midwestern town. I was born in Chicago, then moved to New Jersey. I’ve lived in London, then spent 10 years in Seattle.”

She found her way to Alma through a job posting, saying, “I always knew I wanted to teach in a liberal arts college, and when I saw the job ad for this position, it was like it was custom-tailored for me.”

“However, what really sold me on Alma was my campus interview. I recall long talks with professors in Psychology and Sociology about writing; they cared so deeply about how I taught writing and they were so interested in hearing about my research. That ability to talk across lines of different disciplines is very important to me as a thinker, teacher and scholar.”

Her final reasoning for choosing Alma College was that she “appreciated the ways this place puts undergraduate student learning at the center of everything we do.” She concluded by saying, “The students are still my favorite thing about this place.”

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