From Star Peace Basketball Player to Speech Language Pathologist in Saudi Arabia: Ronnie Laughlin ‘78

February 26, 2022

“It was the best year of my life,” said Ronnie Laughlin ‘78. “Where would I be had I not gone to Peace?”

Laughlin, a native of Gibsonville, North Carolina, loves looking back at her time at William Peace University (WPU). 

Her decision to attend led to one of the most influential years of her life. 

Laughlin was first drawn to Peace to play collegiate-level basketball. Almost six feet tall, Laughlin played in high school, Eastern Guilford, and her team had been runner-up in the state her senior year. Her high school coach, Debbie Yow, recommended Laughlin continue shooting hoops at Peace College.  

Peace’s scholarships and academic opportunities sealed the deal of Laughlin’s decision to attend. 

Laughlin thrived on the successful basketball team. The 1976-77 Women’s Basketball team, with an overall record of 20 wins versus only 8 losses, was the runner-up in the 1977 Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women National JC/CC Tournament.  Its final national ranking, second, is the highest for any Peace College team in any sport. The team was selected as the inaugural inductee into the Peace College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002.

“It was a glorious year,” Laughlin said.

Laughlin experienced many “firsts” during her time on campus — her first time traveling by herself, living with someone in a dorm, making friends with people from different backgrounds, and more. 

“My time at Peace taught me how to be independent and work with a team of people from diverse backgrounds,” Laughlin said. “It taught me confidence to move though places and experiences you don’t know. I learned how to be confident in situations I wasn’t sure how to tackle.”

After Peace, Laughlin followed the team’s head coach, Nora Lynn Finch, to North Carolina State University, where she studied Speech Language Pathology (SLP). She then went on to receive her master’s degree in SLP from Louisiana State University

Laughlin later worked in Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, and most recently Jeddah, Saudi Arabia as an Speech Language Pathologist. She has worked in the Middle Eastern coastal town for 11 years. 

“There is a need for SLP’s in Saudi Arabia,” She explained. “And I experience so much gratitude in taking a child that has difficulty communicating to giving them the ability to communicate.”

When Laughlin moved to Jeddah, she explained that it took time to adjust to the culture. She had to navigate different clothing styles and learn how to shop in open markets around daily prayer times.

Some of her abilities to navigate the differences in Jeddah stem from her time at Peace. Peace College was the first place she learned how to courageously interact with different cultures and backgrounds. 

Now, Laughlin continues to be involved with WPU as a monthly sustainer. WPU Monthly Sustainers can give in an easier, cost-effective, and convenient manner. As a sustainer, Laughlin wants to help students have experiences like hers.

“Peace played such an integral part in my life. The least I could do is donate a few dollars every month,” Laughlin said. “I am so grateful to be part of Peace history.”

To learn more about how to give as a WPU monthly sustainer, visit peace.edu/give.