Feature Story

How a Campus Job Led to a Career: Emily Donbrosky’s Story


Emily Donbrosky (‘24) didn’t expect her student job at the Von Canon Library to set the course for her future career. Now, three years later, and with a bachelor’s degree in history under her belt, Donbrosky is headed to graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in library and information science with a focus on archival management.

“Southern Virginia University gave me a lot of opportunities that I’m not sure I would have had anywhere else,” said Donbrosky. “I’ve been able to get close with professors and establish friendships with the people I’ve worked with. They’ve looked out for me by sharing opportunities to grow and helping me find what I want to do with my future.”

Uncertain of what she wanted to pursue, Donbrosky decided to major in history and get a job to help pay her daily expenses. She began working at the campus library, where she met Stephanie Hardy, the director of library services, and learned more about the library world. It was then that she decided to pursue it as a career.

“It was something that I stumbled upon while I was at Southern Virginia and fell in love with,” said Donbrosky. “I learned a lot from Stephanie and am excited to learn more in this master’s program. I’m still figuring out exactly what I want to do, but I would love to either work in an archive for a historical setting or in a public library.”

In April 2024, the history departments of Southern Virginia University and Virginia Military Institute co-hosted the Phi Alpha Theta State Regional Conference. As a member of Southern Virginia’s chapter, Donbrosky decided to submit her senior paper and won first place in undergraduate papers on world history. 

Donbrosky with Dr. Cox and Miranda Johnson
Donbrosky (center) with Dr. Cox (left) and student Miranda Johnson (right)

“I wrote about the Russian Revolution and the women’s battalion of death,” said Donbrosky. “It was Russia’s first ever all-female battalion in the army, and they were used to combat the instability within the Army and reinvigorate people to fight for Russia. It was a cool experience, and Dr. Cox was a great support and help with my paper.”

During her time as an undergraduate, Donbrosky also became close with history professor Lora Knight and her advisor, Professor Andrew Sorber. As she started to look into graduate schools, they and Stephanie Hardy provided letters of recommendation, advice, and guidance on classes to take.

“I’ve known them since my freshman year, and they’ve all helped me grow academically and as a person,” said Drobonsky. “They helped me figure out what kind of school I want to attend and what I need for the application process. They then wrote personal recommendations, which I’m super grateful for.”

While a student, Donbrosky was invited to join the university’s Honors Program in her junior year. There, she found community and opportunities for involvement, networking, and growth inside and outside of the classroom.

“It was a really good way to meet people,” said Donbrosky. “I made many friends in the Honors Program, and it helped create a community of people with similar educational goals and interests. Then, being involved with the PAT regional conference, meeting an even bigger group of people, and having the opportunity to submit my paper and present it was amazing.”


A native of Richmond, Virginia, Donbrosky had heard of Southern Virginia University growing up and visited the university several times. She quickly fell in love with the campus and decided she wanted to attend.

“I knew from early on that I wanted to go here,” said Donbrosky. “I love how the small class sizes gave me the opportunity for good relationships with my professors. I had visited a couple of times before I was a student, and everyone was so nice and knowledgeable that it always felt like a really good environment.”

Donbrosky graduated from Southern Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in history in May 2024. She will start her master’s program at Simmons University this fall.