2024 grad Rae Spangler healed and thrived at Laurel Ridge ‣ Laurel Ridge Community College
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2024 grad Rae Spangler healed and thrived at Laurel Ridge

Spangler receiving diploma
Rae Spangler and Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser at commencement.

The pandemic and health challenges made high school a turbulent time for 2024 Laurel Ridge grad Rae Spangler. But, coming to Laurel Ridge gave her the space to heal and thrive.

She was a sophomore at Sherando High School when the pandemic hit. Spangler’s entire junior year of high school was spent online. Meanwhile, another challenge came in the form of an eating disorder, for which she sought treatment at a residential facility in Texas. She had a negative outlook on pursuing a higher education until meeting a special English teacher at the Dowell J. Howard Center.

“I didn’t even want to go to school,” Spangler said. “School was not for me. I didn’t see going to school after high school, but I had a really good English teacher, Lisa Cunningham, and she said, ‘You need to do this. If you don’t go to college, you’re wasting this potential.’”

Earlier thoughts of college had involved studying the performing arts, but Mrs. Cunningham’s class reawakened another passion.

“I had really liked writing growing up and had always been a big reader,” said Spangler. “My mom was always a big reader, but I had never thought about pursuing it in college or professionally until I went to Dowell J.”

Following her stay in Texas, Spangler enrolled part time at Laurel Ridge while continuing her treatment.

“I was like, I’m never dealing with this again, so that’s why I’m going to get better,” said Spangler, who began full-time classes in fall 2022.

She thrived at the college, as well as her job at a coffee shop in Berryville.

“I made a lot of really good friends at Laurel Ridge,” Spangler, who earned her general studies degree, said. “I’m just really, really grateful that I’m healthy and doing well. I met a lot of good people who I think I will be friends with for a long time.”

Her favorite teacher was English instructor Joseph Walls.

“It’s been a really fun class,” said Spangler. “We talked about everything under the sun. It kind of brought back that passion for literature.”

The new grad, who “dabbles” in poetry and came third in the college’s poet laureate contest, hopes to continue writing, especially “more prose rather than poetry. I think it’s a good way to get those creative juices flowing.”

A lifelong volunteer, Spangler continued her life of service while also focusing on studies and her job. She became president of the Pride Club on the Fauquier Campus, and helped to bring a chapter to the Middletown Campus. Along with Brandi Yasem, she served as co-president of the Student Government Association. Additionally, she was in Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society.

And, about a year ago, Spangler helped start Front Royal Pride. Recently, she helped develop a workshop to train Laurel Ridge faculty and staff to be allies to the LGBTQ+ community. While at Laurel Ridge, she benefitted from the Axalta Bright Futures Scholarship.

Spangler is attending Virginia Commonwealth University this fall and hopes to major in English and minor in classical literature. Her hope is to work in a museum’s archives department.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.