To celebrate 50 years of coeducation at Kenyon, we’re profiling 50 Kenyon alumnae during the 2019-20 academic year. These 50 women, merely a small sample of the thousands of female graduates who have earned Kenyon degrees since 1969, will discuss their undergraduate experiences and how their education in Gambier prepared them for their lives and careers.
The second alumna in our series is Larae Schraeder ’97, director of marketing research at Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio. An English and French major at Kenyon, Schraeder now serves on the College’s Board of Trustees. She also holds a law degree from Capital University in Columbus.
How did Kenyon prepare you for your life and/or career?
I became a stronger writer during my time on the Hill. Analytical writing was at the center of the curriculum, which gave me plenty of opportunity to practice. However, my writing would not have sufficiently improved from practicing alone; my Kenyon professors painstakingly critiqued every word I wrote. That constant stream of personalized feedback was exactly what I needed. I continue to lean on the writing and analytical skills I honed at Kenyon.
Which women, at Kenyon or elsewhere, inspire you most or have been role models for you?
I have had no shortage of female role models in my life. My grandmother is at the top of my list. She wanted more for me than she had, and she knew that education was the key to success. She lovingly yet persistently told me: “get your lessons first.” Also topping my list is my single mother, whose sacrifices and multiple jobs helped make my Kenyon education a reality.
So many other women have also shaped me. For instance, a woman I met during a reception for the 25-year celebration of Women at Kenyon [in 1994]. I told her I was considering a double major but was nervous about having two senior exercises in the same semester. She insisted (though diplomatically) that double comps wasn’t a good enough reason! For the rest of my life, if I were to tell someone I almost completed the requirements for a double major, I would be reminded about — perhaps even embarrassed of — why I didn’t do it. She had a point. I declared my second major, and a few years later when that dreaded semester came, I worked diligently so as to not flub my comps. To my surprise, I earned distinction in both!
How do you find and feel your power? Where did you first discover it?
For me, there is no greater reminder of my power than a dose of upbeat, butt-kicking rock music from my homemade playlist called “comeback kid.” Whenever I flinch and experience a moment of self doubt, I call upon those tunes to restore my mindset. Hard work will help me prevail. My preference is to sing loudly and alone in the car, but I’ve learned that a steady stream of pick-me-up music while brushing my teeth works in a pinch.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Read about the previous woman in our series: Elly Deutch Moody ’08.