Delaware, Door to the World
Photo courtesy of Laura Donohue and UD Outing Club December 06, 2017
Outing Club president, student-athlete Laura Donohue encourages students to pursue their greatest passions
For as long as she can remember, senior Laura Donohue has been passionate — about agriculture and art, as well as being active and enjoying the outdoors. This enthusiasm has helped her fit right in at the University of Delaware, where the honors pre-veterinary medicine and animal biosciences major has spent a summer on an Icelandic sheep farm, worked a winter on a swine farm in northern Denmark, and made plans to volunteer at a Costa Rican veterinary clinic next month.
Though she has found her coursework enjoyable and rewarding, Donohue’s engagement extends far beyond the classroom. Since arriving at UD, she has competed every season with the University of Delaware women’s rowing team — and become steadily more active in the Outing Club, which she currently serves as president.
“It’s not easy to be a division one rower, an active member of the Outing Club, and keep up with an honors course load,” said Donohue, who is from Merchantville, N.J. “However, my passion for each of my each of these organizations makes it easy to find the time to stay involved. I look forward to each Outing Club meeting just as I look forward to every opportunity to race with my team.”
In an interview with the Division of Student Life, Donohue shared her most meaningful experiences as she reflected on four years of being an enthusiastic Blue Hen.
Question: What memorable experiences have helped define your life at UD?
Answer: My fondest memories are inextricably linked to Outing Club. I found Outing Club after participating in the Summit Pre-Orientation program offered through New Student Orientation; all three of my summit leaders were involved in Outing Club, and suggested that I join the Outing Club if I wanted to keep nature and the outdoors within my life even while at college.
Right from the start, Outing Club has been a space to grow and expand as a person and a leader. As a freshman, I immediately connected with a cohort that accepted every person not despite their faults and wackiness, but because of them. On my very first trip, I tried mountain biking for the first time and ended that trip with a terribly bruised ankle, bloody knee, and partially broken shin. Despite this, I was glowing with how fun the trip was and felt entirely safe under the leadership of the Outing Club officers. They were fun, confident, and accepting people that made me feel welcome at once.
One of my best memories from Outing Club was my first backpacking trip. We went backpacking through the Adirondacks in December. It was freezing — I had never felt cold like that before, but all 12 of us were excited for the whole experience. After a night in the snow, we summited the tallest peak in New York. Trudging through the wind and struggling up the icy incline to the peak of Mt. Marcy is one of the best memories of my life. We all got up there together with ice encrusted smiles.
Q: How did UD support you in becoming a thriving Blue Hen?
A: Outing Club has been essential to help me develop my leadership skills. After leading trips, from haunted hikes to backpacking in the Adirondacks, I have the confidence to tackle any problem I am faced with. The group has shown me that I can keep nature and adventure as an integral part of my life, and taught me how to work effectively within a team.
The women’s rowing team has also been formative in my hard work ethic and dedication. I woke up at 5 a.m. every fall morning and 4 a.m. every spring morning for the past four years, and I have been able to compete with other women athletes much more talented and stronger than I. Having made it through seven seasons of college rowing, I now know that I can wake up for any early morning and tackle any future challenge.
The honors program here at UD has also pushed me and enabled me to pursue my dreams. The staff has been with me every step of the way to help me achieve more than I ever thought possible. I was able to fund my Denmark trip with a generous stipend granted through the Honors Enrichment Award, and am currently in the process of pursuing some prestigious scholarships for graduate school study abroad. The program has also helped me in my pursuit of a senior thesis comparing the tracheal microbiomes of poultry raised organically, antibiotic-free, traditionally, and in the backyard.
Q: What advice do you have for students who may be interested in following a similar path?
A: Do not get involved in clubs that you are only somewhat passionate about. Go after those clubs that introduce you to the coolest people, and enable you to work with things that get you excited for every new day at UD! I loved my experience at UD because I got to spend every day doing something that I loved. If you follow your passions, they will take you places you never knew you could be, but that are exactly where you should be.
About Outing Club
Offered through the University Student Centers, the Outing Club at the University of Delaware is students’ home for any and all outdoor adventures. Outing Club is the largest registered student organization at UD, with 10% of undergraduate students identifying as members.
Outing Club began its first air travel trips in winter 2015 with a weeklong excursion to the Pacific Northwest. Students can sign up on StUDent Central to receive Outing Club emails about upcoming trips, including winter 2018 trips to California and Utah. Activities offered throughout the year include whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking and more.
About the Division of Student Life
The Division of Student Life includes the Career Services Center, Center for Black Culture, Center for Counseling and Student Development, LGBT Program, New Student Orientation, Office of the Dean of Students, Office of Student Conduct, Residence Life and Housing, Student Health Services, Student Services for Athletes, Student Wellness and Health Promotion, and the University Student Centers. For more information about Student Life, visit the website.