Laura Ferrell’s composed, gentle and motherly personality reminds me of the Laura Ingalls Wilder character from the “Little House on the Prairie” series. They are also both witty and committed to their respective causes. Instead of hailing from Kansas however, this Laura is from the nearby Richmond area where she grew up with her parents and an older sister. And as Laura describes to me her love of lying in bed reading a good Virginia Woolf novel, I am taken back to “Little House of the Prairie,” only this time, it is a different Laura I see curled up inside a log cabin with a fire crackling in the background.
p. **Can you explain to me a little bit about Sexual Assault Peer Advocates and why you wanted to be so involved?**
p. Yes, actually getting involved in SAPA has been one of my highlights at the College. It is, by far, the organization that I am most proud of or my proudest accomplishment. It’s fairly new and I am the co-chair of it this year. It’s really fun to get going and to try and get all the kinks worked out. The group is definitely blossoming right now, and we’re working to improve it, but that also proves to be a challenge because there are no precedents. And while that can be a challenge, it also presents the opportunity to make SAPA the best that we can. I’m really happy that William and Mary has an organization like it and that we have administrators who have been so supportive of it.
p. **So, as co-chair, what is your role or responsibility within the organization?**
p. Well that’s another thing we’re working on. It is a brand new position because the organization is only a year old. Right now I am specifically in charge of PR and I work with Brett Rector, my co-chair, and Trisha to do training, continuing education and protocol. We are the first back-ups if there are any problems or things like that. I’m creating the first co-chair binder and trying to set what the position and even organization will be like in the future.
p. Ideally, how would you envision the organization in the future?
The students trust our confidentiality and our resources. I would love to see the entire campus — freshmen to seniors, as well as professors — being able to rely on it as a wonderful resource and one that’s reliable and confidential whether they are right in the middle of a crisis or it was something that happened 10 years ago and they just now feel comfortable enough to call and get help. We’re really trying to get our name out because that is definitely the first step. People need to know we are there and exist before they can feel safe enough to call.
p. **Have you done anything like this in the past?**
p. Last semester I trained to work at Avalon, the battered women’s shelter in Williamsburg. I don’t have a car right now, so I actually just set up my transportation and I am going to be working there two to three times a week. It is wonderful — they are a very well organized and relatively well-funded organization … although like many others, could always use more money. The people that volunteer there are also great and just really sweet.
p. **Is this involvement something you see yourself wanting to continue after college?**
p. Right now, my plans for after college are to go to graduate school for social work. I really want to get involved at a shelter for women, children and survivors of sexual assault. I have gotten a lot of education during my time here and the more I learn, the more I see just how much individuals can help. I have met a lot of men and women who work in the field and seeing the types of rewards it can bring really attracts me to it. I’m really passionate about it and I want it to be more than just a dream. One day I want to work as a counselor at a shelter. I’m applying to graduate schools now, so I’m on my way.
p. **If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?**
p. Ah, there are so many places. Oh, can I name two … please? I really want to go to Prague because I’ve heard so many great things about it and, I hate to say it, but have always kind of overlooked Eastern Europe. I heard it’s just beautiful. I would also love to go to Ireland. My sister’s fiance is from there and I have a lot of friends who traveled there for the William and Mary summer program. The stories they have and pictures they took from there are amazing. The summer after graduation I’m hoping to get to both of those places.
p. **Have you already started saving up?**
p. Yes, me and my boyfriend Graham have a jar and we put all of our loose change or any change we find in there. We started in the fall, and after we sold our textbooks back, we put that money in, too. It’s just an entire tub of change. We’ve saved about $200 so far so I guess that’s a couple of meals in Europe. We’re hoping to have enough in a year because we want to go when Graham graduates. I’m that kid on campus who picks up those pennies that other kids ignore. I’m not ashamed. Tell people to drop more coins on the ground so I can pick them up.
p. **What is one thing about you that few others, if any, know?**
p. Not a lot of people know that I used to tap dance. Actually, I took modern, jazz and tap. Tap and modern were my favorites though. I miss them a lot. When I see a movie with dancing or with a studio in it, I still have dreams about dancing. When I go to the gym, I choreograph in my head while I’m working out. It’s always to the beats of Avril Lavigne because she’s the only person I’ll listen to while I work out. I’m pretty embarrassed about that.
That can’t be the most embarrassing thing about you.
p. No, I have a lot of embarrassing Laura stories. One of my worst though was probably this one time when I was at the Rec Center and my Soffe shorts ripped in the back. I didn’t realize it and I worked out for about an hour with a gaping hole in the back. What’s worse is that I wasn’t wearing underwear that would cover it up. And I was on the elliptical so I can only imagine how much I was flashing everyone. I found out after and pretty much ran out of the Rec.