Movie Prompted Cederquist to Take Up Hobby

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One day back in 1984, Laura Cederquist and a buddy walked into a theater to catch a movie — and walked out wanting to be the next karate kids.

“We just thought the ‘Karate Kid’ was so cool,” said Cederquist, a financial manager in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “So we walked to a studio up the street from the theater, signed up for lessons, and I’ve been training in the martial arts on and off ever since.”

Cederquist practices Korean Soo Bahk Do and has steadily worked her way through the ranks (taking a break from training from 1990 to 2000) to become a fifth dan. For comparison, the head of the Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation is a ninth dan, and Cederquist won’t be ready to test for the next level for six years.

She currently trains students ranging from children to adults in the art at a local studio a few times a week.  

“It’s not about beating people up,” she said. “This type of movement is more of the ballet of martial arts.”

Read on to learn more about Cederquist and her time at Georgia Tech.

What did you want to be as a child?          

I wanted to do something like teach English in Japan, which stemmed from my interest in martial arts. But I didn’t have a solid goal. Actually, I changed majors three times during my first few quarters as an undergraduate at Tech. First, there was biology, then computing and finally management. Once I realized that I didn’t have to take calculus as a management student, I knew I’d found a fit.

How did you arrive in your current position?      

Most people in my family went to Tech — my sister and brother-in-law, my nephews, my husband — and my son is destined to come here, too. As a student, I got a job working in the School of Civil Engineering’s accounting office, which evolved into a full-time position once I graduated. After about two years, I moved on to my current position and have been here for 18 years.

Describe an average day in your job.    

Simply put, I balance my school’s financial books, and make sure we don’t overspend or underspend based on our budget. I help faculty members with grant proposal and sponsored funding questions, and with purchasing items. Even though my office tries to focus on finance, my assistant and I wind up dealing with a little bit of everything. 

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

I love when I can help resolve a problem. For example, we have a postdoc in our department who, from the very beginning, has had all sorts of funding problems. We’ve been working with the student for a year to get everything straightened out and are almost at the point where they are. It’s satisfying to see all of that effort pay off.

Where is your favorite spot on campus?

I like the sunken garden over by the library. I used to take naps there as a student and enjoy it to this day.

What are three things that every Tech employee should do?  

Go to a football or basketball game. Walk around campus on a nice spring day and take in all of the trees and flowers. And see a show at the Ferst Center for the Arts.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?   

Always finish what you start.

Where is your favorite spot to have lunch?   

I’m a fan of Willy’s Mexicana and always order nachos.

If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be?   

It would be Audrey Hepburn, because she’s my favorite actress and had a very interesting life beyond acting.

Tell us something unique about yourself.   

I love Disney World. My husband — who is a good sport about my obsession — and son and I try to visit the Disney parks in Orlando every other year. My favorites are Epcot and Animal Kingdom.



  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Amelia Pavlik
  • Created:03/04/2013
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016