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LaShelle Rullan

Looking back four years ago at her freshman semester at Dominican, LaShelle Rullan remembers how comfortable she felt on campus and how fortunate she felt to be here. “The academic rigor, the independence from being away from home, it just seemed like it was a smooth transition to Dominican,” she says. “I had looked at bigger schools, but I felt I should be here because it was smaller and safe. I felt at home. I felt better at Dominican than anywhere else.”

LaShelle was reminded of this when researching her occupational therapy thesis project on first generation college students’ experiences at Dominican. She stumbled across data that included an interview she gave as an incoming student.

As a freshman, LaShelle walked on and made the Dominican volleyball team. She played for the Penguins for three seasons while they transitioned into NCAA Division II competition. As a junior, she was named the Top Junior Female Scholar Student-Athlete of the Year and became secretary of the Penguin Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

In addition to being a student-athlete, LaShelle, the oldest of seven siblings, coached volleyball, volunteered at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop, worked as a nanny, and participated in several community and campus clean-up and beautification projects. Even with a full schedule, she found time to make costumes for her siblings’ school plays.

“LaShelle embodies the Dominican values of study, reflection, community, and service. She exemplifies the characteristics of leadership, service, and creativity,” says Stacy Frauwirth, assistant professor in the OT department and LaShelle’s academic adviser for the last three years. 

After taking sports medicine classes in high school, LaShelle gravitated toward a career in occupational therapy at Dominican. She was inspired by the needs of two of her siblings.

“When I looked at what occupational therapy was, it’s so broad. It can do so many things,” she says. “You can help people in so many different ways.”

This academic year, LaShelle forfeited her senior season on the volleyball team to better concentrate on her studies and thesis project and prioritize the goals she had when enrolling at Dominican.  She finished the year on the Dean’s List for the eighth consecutive semester and graduated  Summa Cum Laude.  She was selected as one of three finalists for Dominican’s Outstanding Student Award.

LaShelle is leaning toward a future in pediatric OT after assisting children at the Novato Youth Center. She will return to Dominican in the fall to attend conferences, hold internships, and work toward earning her OT license.

“I love Dominican’s campus,” LaShelle says. “I go to visit other schools. My younger sister goes to UCLA and I think, `No, I like my school better.’ ”

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