Inspired by innovative thinking, alumni couple supports Medill
Just think how many lives were changed after Ed Gillette picked up a copy of the Chicago Tribune five years ago and read an article about a few changes at Northwestern’s Medill School.
Gillette (WCAS88) was running the family business—Scranton Gillette, which publishes integrated media—when he learned about a new dean at Medill who made video-editing courses mandatory for graduation.
Gillette was thrilled to learn of the change, and happy to see Dean John Lavine and the Medill staff were “breaking the mold.”
Facilitated by Ed and Laura Gillette (BSC ’89 Communications), Scranton Gillette made a five-figure scholarship commitment to Medill.
“The requirements for a journalist now are much different than they were 20 years ago,” Gillette says. “In addition to the strong journalism skills needed to function, there is now a video platform to present information in as well as social networks. My thoughts were we need to develop a relationship with Medill so we can have access to this kind of forward thinking.”
Scranton Gillette, located in Arlington Heights, also provides paid internships for qualified Northwestern students. As a result, four Medill graduates work in a variety of roles for the company.
“We needed to ensure we have access to this kind of talent,” Ed says. “They are producing quality graduates with the skill sets needed. We decided to support that to help make sure there is a continuation of talent.”
Laura added, “Ed and I feel so strongly about this school. It’s not just the four-year experience. It’s an education and a connection for life.”
While a student, Ed held leadership roles in Phi Gamma Delta and was involved in the Mathematical Methods in the Social Science program. Upon graduation he took a job at Anderson Consulting, then joined Scranton Gillette in 1992. The business has been in the family 105 years, and Ed is the fourth generation Gillette to run it.
Laura was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, studied abroad at the London School of Economics and in her senior year had an internship with DDB Needham Advertising. Immediately following graduation she was hired into the marketing department of Quaker Oats, spent some time as a Marketing manager for Gatorade and is now an educational therapist, working with children who have learning disabilities.
“Northwestern was great,” Ed said. “It’s a great degree to have out in the world and I made some lifelong friends—and it’s where I met my wife.”
That, in itself, is an interesting story.
Ed Gillette and Laura Rosch, in the eyes of mutual friends and Northwestern alumni John Smyth (1988) and Carolyn Starmann (1990), seemed to be a perfect match. Yet circumstance and timing stood in the way of them getting together. That is, until one February night in 1989—this was after Ed graduated—they chanced upon each other at a Bloomingdale’s opening, a black-tie event on Michigan Avenue.
“We had been set up on blind dates with other people,” Laura recalled. “The evening went on and afterward I was at the coat check and he came up to me and said, ‘Aren’t you Laura Rush? I’m Ed Gillette. I’ve been hearing your name for three or four years now.’ We talked for an hour.
“Ten months later we were engaged and less than a year and a half later we were married. It was so serendipitous that we met at that time, after all of our experiences.”
Ed and Laura have two kids—Carolyn, 16, and 12-year-old Julia—and reside in Lake Forest. They enjoy attending Wildcat football and basketball games.