Hidden Figures of Lawrence: Laura Donaldson

Kate’s Corner Store Employee Laura Donaldson at the register in the corner store.
Photo by Larissa Davis.

***This column is devoted to highlighting staff members that play a huge role in the everyday experiences of the Lawrence community. The goal is to focus on the “Hidden Figures” of Lawrence University and their interests both within, and outside of Lawrence.***


Sometimes students need a place to go when they have some time to spare. Kate’s Corner Store is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Monday through Thursday, until midnight on Friday and on the weekends from 4 p.m. to midnight. The store is not exactly on a corner, but is conveniently located on the second floor of Warch Campus Center, so students do not have to frequently go off campus to buy groceries or a midnight snack. It is especially useful when students need to stress eat before midterms and finals. This week’s hidden figure is someone who keeps the store running, and may be familiar to some students. Her blue eye shadow and friendly smile is impossible to ignore. Laura Donaldson is one of the many staff members that work in Warch that deserves recognition.

Donaldson works as a full-time cashier in the corner store, and also works part-time in The Book Store on Northland Avenue, which sells new and used books. She works a total of fifteen to sixteen hours between the two jobs. Donaldson is a high school graduate, and has been working at Lawrence for six years. “Time really flies,” Donaldson laughed. Her responsibilities include opening and closing the store, keeping the store stocked, making sure the store is clean, running orders and keeping inventory. She is one of the four employees on staff at the corner store. “We work very hard here to provide the best for the students,” commented Donaldson, as she shows up every day because of the students she interacts with.

After a long day at work, Donaldson likes to spend time reading. She will read anything from historical fiction, nonfiction, novels and current events. When she takes time off from her busy schedule she likes to cook and have dinners with family and friends. She occasionally enjoys game nights and watching movies. “I try to have a social life aside from working so hard,” said Donaldson. She tries to create a balance with time at home and getting away when she can.

When Donaldson graduated high school, she did not know what she wanted to do with her life, but lately she has considered going back to college. “It’s a hard decision,” said Donaldson. However, seeing how hard Lawrence students work inspires Donaldson to do the same. Her dream job after finishing college would be to own her own business as a consultant in social media.

Donaldson is not an expert on the ‘Lawrence Difference’ to students, but she knows that for faculty and staff it means showing up every day and being supportive however she can.

“I know Lawrentians have a hard time balancing classes and sometimes work, so I would like to be the kind of person that is there when students are having a hard day or need someone to talk to.”

Although she has not experienced it directly, Donaldson is familiar with the stress of school by interacting with Lawrence students and seeing it through their eyes. Donaldson would describe her interactions with students as fun, so it is easy to approach her and say hello. Donaldson wants to be known as someone to count on for being there, and by doing so hopefully making some difference in students’ lives. She understands that life as a student is difficult between challenging classes, club activities and part-time jobs, so she tries to keep conversations with students light, fun and easy. Donaldson believes it is comforting for students to know they have a safe place to come and go whenever they please.

When asked who her inspiration is Donaldson thought for a moment. Finally, she responded that her mother is her inspiration because she is a single parent who works full-time to support her children. She admires that her mother is a parent and a teacher who owns her own business. “She is pretty incredible and amazing,” added Donaldson fondly.

Donaldson hopes she is doing the same for Lawrence students. Students should appreciate her positive attitude and her long hours in the corner store. She exemplifies the ‘Lawrence Difference’ with her determination and tenacity to succeed, just like every student here. Donaldson is someone who does her best to make a difference. Just like her mother, Donaldson is pretty incredible and amazing herself.