I have a lot to say about women and education. I think there is such pushes to—I don’t even know how to put this. I think that my biggest challenge from kindergarten to defending my PhD thesis. Why don’t you talk more? Why don’t you smile more? Right, I think there’s such—it’s hard to crack past that. It’s hard to yell over the guy who’s saying nothing, but saying a lot of it and getting all the attention. I think that’s really tough. And I found that and some of it is personality and some of it is gender. There’s plenty of women who are falling off their chairs answering questions, but I found that the professors I worked with, it wasn’t really male culture it was either patronizing or it was diminishing. I could not wait till when I came here. And Mark got his job and he was teaching, and I was finishing up, I couldn’t wait to get out of Princeton. Smith was fine [laughs]. Smith should have prepared me for the rest of it.
Laura Smith Porter was born in 1958 and raised in Illinois. After pursuing her undergraduate degree at Smith College, she continued her education at Princeton University. At Princeton, she met her husband Mark Richmond. After living in various areas, Mark was offered a job at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. In 1985, they settled down in Worcester, near Indian Lake. In this interview, Laura discusses the obstacles that she faced throughout her education and her career. Growing up as an only child, the early deaths of her parents inspired her to become a writer. After obtaining a master’s degree from the University of Illinois, she taught at the college level and then decided to pursue the career path of a freelance writer and editor. Laura is motivated daily by her two children, Max and Zoey, and her husband, Mark. In addition to working for the Telegram and Gazette, she balances her home life, while also contributing to the pro-choice organization, the Jane Fund. Furthermore, Laura works one-on-one with high school and college-aged students who have disabilities. In this interview, Laura also discusses the evolving culture of Worcester, such as its diverse population.