The Trent University Alumni Association (TUAA) is pleased to announce that alumna Laura Suchan has stepped into the role of president of the TUAA Oshawa Chapter.
Ms. Suchan has been getting to know students, faculty, staff and alumna in Oshawa, as she was instrumental in the success of an archaeological field-course that took place at the Oshawa Museum, where she is the executive director. The course offered hands-on experience to students on a two-week archaeological dig at Historic Henry House on the Oshawa waterfront.
Ms. Suchan studied anthropology at Trent in the 80’s, and was happy to provide an opportunity to current students that she herself would have benefitted from when she was a student. “This is a course I would have taken,” she said. “Having to work during the summers when I was in school, I couldn’t do the major summer excursions to Belize.”
Speaking of her Trent Experience, she said, “I loved it. I enjoyed every minute of it. I think I was born to be a student.” Ms. Suchan was at Trent from 1984 to 1988, when she graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Anthropology.
Her work at Trent led her to a job as a pathology assistant at Oshawa General Hospital, where for six years she learned first-hand the forensics skills which have served her in her current role at the Oshawa Museum. Now the executive director, she started at the Museum in 1989, while continuing to do forensics work on week-ends.
In her early academic career, Ms. Suchan was always serious about archaeology, but after field-work exposure, she found her true passion in the lab working with skeletal material. She started out taking courses in History and Politics and discovered in physical anthropology that she loved handling artefacts.
“You think you know what you want, but then you’re exposed to new ideas and jobs you never heard of,” she explained. While still an undergraduate student, Ms. Suchan worked as an assistant to a master’s student, and was given the opportunity to work with materials from a dig in Lamanai, Belize. She organized and identified dentition (teeth) from an archaeological dig, some of which were decorated with jade.
20 years later, she went to Belize and stood on the site where the materials she worked on came from. “It was one of those moments in life,” she said smiling. “I always wanted to go and I was just thrilled.”
Ms. Suchan has fed her passion over the years with travel to many countries such as Egypt, Belize, Mexico, South America, Honduras, Uruguay, and the Falkland Islands.
“Everything is a museum to me,” she said. “I am fascinated by the study of civilizations – then going there. Standing on the sites and being able to see them from a scientific perspective … I also enjoy looking at the tools and techniques that are used to uncover what is conserved.”
Ms. Suchan credited the Anthropology program at Trent for its breadth of courses and experiences, but her Trent degree means more to her than that. “I still keep in touch with friends all over the world who do interesting things,” she said. “I just loved Trent – the feel of it – the atmosphere.” Then she added, “If I won a lottery, I would go back to school.”