Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Laura Osborne

osborneName: Laura Cowan Osborne

Occupation: Early Childhood Special Education Teacher

Education (UR and additional): BA Brain and Cognitive Sciences (double minor in history and psychology) University of Rochester, 2003; MA Early Childhood Special Education George Washington University, 2005; Certificate of Applied Behavior Analysis, George Mason University, 2009

Current city/state/country of residence: Alexandria, VA

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

My parents (and grandfather) both attended UR. When it was time to look at colleges, they encouraged me to look. I loved the fact that I could take lessons at Eastman and take advantage of all of the concerts there. I loved that the curriculum was open and there were no ‘freshman’ classes. I loved the diversity of classes and majors offered. The campus just felt like home from when I first came to visit!

When and how did you choose your major(s)?

I have always been fascinated by the brain and how it works. I enjoy learning about development and what can go wrong. Because I was so interested in psychology when I took my first couple of courses, but I enjoyed the more scientific lean of BCS. I was excited to know more about how the brain works, how that effects everything else, and what that means for a person.

What did you do immediately after graduation?  How did you decide to take this path?

I was trying to decide between pursuing a PhD in neuropsychology and becoming a special education teacher. In summers between classes, I worked as an assistant in a special education preschool program and also did work in research in both Alzheimer’s disease and neuropsychology.  I decided to take a position as an assistant in a classroom full time to make sure that I really loved working with children and I had so much fun I pursued my MA in education.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I am an early childhood special education teacher. I work with children ages 2-5 that have delays in one more more of the core areas (language, motor skills, social skills, and cognition). I am a non-categorical teacher, so all of my students have different abilities and disabilities. I love that it keeps me on my toes and is continually changing. Seeing my students make progress and helping them to do so means the world to me.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

Having knowledge about the brain has been very helpful as a special education teacher. A lot of my students have had injuries to the brain (stroke in utero, traumatic head injury), suffer from brain related disorders (epilepsy) or have other anomalies (agenesis of the corpus callosum, cortical blindness).  My background has allowed me to better plan for what a student might need in the classroom.