Lana Ruwe Orndorff ’08 originally had Shenandoah on her radar because she wanted to be a dance major. However, during her senior year of high school, Orndorff realized that dance wasn’t for her. This didn’t stop her from attending Shenandoah. “I still liked the small-town atmosphere and programs at Shenandoah,” said Orndorff. “It’s a great place for students to get individualized attention from teachers and staff.”
At the end of her freshman year, she decided to become an English major. The fondest memories Orndorff has from her time at the university are making life-long friends, experiencing dorm life, and, of course, the annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®.
Orndorff currently teaches writing workshops, specializing in fiction and expressive writing and has published two novels. “Missing Colors” was released in August 2020 with “The Narrative of Mary James” as its follow-up, being published in October 2022.
“Some aspects of my novel are inspired by my experiences and classes, including those taught by former Professors of English Dr. John Jacobs and Dr. Joanne Jacobs at Shenandoah University,” said Orndorff.
Prior to her current career, she was an ESL teacher in Chile, South Korea and the United States, teaching students from all over the world in-person and online. In 2011, Orndorff received the Teacher of the Year award at Carrot English, where she taught English to South Korean students of all ages. She was also an adjunct professor of writing and the Writing Center Director at East-West University in Chicago, Illinois.
One of the most rewarding experiences of Orndorff’s career was being able to hold her novel in her hands for the first time after it was published. She has also enjoyed her opportunities to travel the world and work with tons of amazing and diverse students.
Orndorff’s time at Shenandoah had a huge impact on the person she is today. Her first time traveling outside the United States was with former Professor of Foreign Languages (Spanish) Ann St. Clair Lesman’s, Ph.D., Spanish class. “It was life-changing and I knew travel was something I wanted to have in my life, which led me to teach ESL,” said Orndorff.
Orndorff’s advice to students is: “For those who want to be writers or authors, write a lot. Write what feels good. Your work will speak to someone.”