Laura Bush

Born:November 4, 1946 (age 73)
Career:First lady of the United States, 2001-2009
First lady of Texas, 1995-2000
Education:Bachelor's, Southern Methodist University
Master's, University of Texas at Austin

Laura Lane Welch Bush, former first lady of the United States, is an advocate for literacy, education, and women's rights. The wife of the 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush, she was the first lady from 2001 to 2009.

Bush was born in Midland, Texas, on November 4, 1946. She graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, in 1968, receiving a bachelor's degree in elementary education. After college, she taught second grade at Kennedy Elementary School in Houston, Texas, for two years. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, Graduate School of Library Science in 1972, with a master's degree in library science. Following, she returned to Austin and worked as a school librarian at Dawson Elementary School. On November 5, 1977, she married George W. Bush.

Because George W. Bush was planning to begin his campaign for a U.S. congressional seat shortly after the wedding, Bush ended her work as a librarian and went to work full-time on his campaign, which he lost in 1978. In 1994, he was elected governor of Texas, an office he held until being elected president of the United States in 2000. As first lady of Texas, Bush successfully lobbied for state funding of early reading, literacy and early childhood development programs, which became the social issues on which she focused.

At the 2001 inaugural, she presided over a newly created event honoring American authors. With the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, occurring less than nine months after assuming the First Lady role, Bush found herself with more demands than she had initially assumed. She frequently spoke in public forums on techniques that adults could use to comfort children who were traumatized by the changes wrought by the attacks. Education was the primary focus of Bush's tenure as first lady. When she testified before the Senate Education Committee on January 23, 2002, Bush called for higher teacher salaries and better training for Head Start and day care workers. In the ninth month of her tenure, she introduced a National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., based on the model of the one she had created in Texas. She was a strong advocate for and defender against critics of the administration's No Child Left Behind Act signed by the president in January 2002.

During the 2004 campaign, Bush dramatically increased her role, delivering a policy-oriented speech at the Republican National Convention, making hundreds of stump speeches in which she addressed substantive policy accomplishments and goals of the administration in economics, homeland security and the Iraqi War.

In honor of Bush's career as a librarian and her lifelong dedication to early learning, early reading and literacy, Congress named a librarian program at the Institute of Museum and Library Services after her. Funded through the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies, the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program was enacted as bill H.R. 3010 on December 30, 2005, and became Public Law 109-149.

In May 2010, Bush released her memoir, "Spoken from the Heart." She has made several public appearances since the end of her husband's presidency. She campaigned for the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan Republican ticket in the 2012 presidential race and for her brother-in-law Jeb Bush in the 2016 race. She continues to remain involved and concerned over the state of women in Afghanistan.

*Photo by Kevin Halliburton of Ice Imaging.*