Former First Lady Laura Bush Speaking Feb. 21 at Southeast

Former U.S. First Lady Laura Bush, an advocate for literacy, education and women’s rights, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at Southeast Missouri State University.

Tickets are required for “An Evening with Laura Bush” and will go on sale Dec. 1. General admission tickets can be purchased at http://www.showmecenter.biz/ or the Show Me Center Box Office. Current Southeast faculty, staff and students can use a Redhawks ID to pick up a free ticket in the Center for Student Involvement (University Center Room 204) or the Show Me Center Box Office.

After leaving the White House, President and Mrs. Bush founded the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the campus of SMU in Dallas, Texas. The Center is home to the Bush Presidential Library & Museum and the George W. Bush Institute, a public policy center established to solve today’s most pressing challenges by developing leaders, advancing policy and taking action.

As chair of the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative, Mrs. Bush is passionate about access to education, healthcare and economic opportunity for women and girls around the world. The Bush Institute prepares and empowers the next generation of women leaders in North Africa and the Middle East, works to ensure the expansion and protection of women’s rights in Afghanistan, and engages and supports First Ladies from around the world so they can effectively use their unique platforms to advance issues for women and girls in their countries.

Mrs. Bush has been a leading voice for spreading freedom and promoting human rights across the globe. For more than a decade, she has led efforts through the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council to protect the hard-earned rights of women in that country. She also has been a longtime supporter of the people of Burma.

As First Lady, Mrs. Bush advocated for the importance of literacy and education to advance opportunity for America’s young people and to foster healthy families and communities. She highlighted the importance of preparing children to become lifelong learners, convening a White House Summit on Early Childhood Cognitive Development in 2001. Mrs. Bush has visited schools around the world and met with students in nations from Afghanistan to Zambia, with a particular focus on the education of girls and women.

Mrs. Bush established the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C, modeled after the highly successful Texas Book Festival she founded in Austin while serving as First Lady of Texas. At the Bush Institute, Mrs. Bush has continued to improve student achievement through effective school leadership, middle school transformation and the use of accountability.

Women’s healthcare also has been a central issue for Mrs. Bush. Because heart disease is the leading cause of death among American women, she partnered with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to launch The Heart Truth campaign and the Red Dress project. The Heart Truth campaign raises awareness among women about their risk for heart disease. As First Lady, she also helped launch the first international partnerships for breast cancer awareness and research, visiting countries in Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America to support programs that help women detect breast cancer early so they can seek treatment when it has the best chance of success. Mrs. Bush also has visited more than a dozen countries to support the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President’s Malaria Initiative. President and Mrs. Bush continue their work to promote women’s health through Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, an independent affiliate of the George W. Bush Institute and a global partnership fighting women’s cancers.

Mrs. Bush is the author of the bestselling memoir, “Spoken From the Heart,” and bestselling children’s book, “Our Great Big Backyard.” She serves on many boards, including the National Advisory Board for the Salvation Army, the Council for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Board of Trustees for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Southern Methodist University Board of Trustees.

The former First Lady was born in Midland, Texas, to Harold and Jenna Welch. She holds a Bachelor of Science in education from Southern Methodist University and a master’s degree in library science from the University of Texas. She taught in public schools in Dallas, Houston and Austin and worked as a public school librarian. She served as First Lady of Texas from 1995 to 2000. President and Mrs. Bush are the proud parents of twin daughters Barbara and Jenna, son-in-law Henry Hager, and happy grandparents to Margaret Laura “Mila” and Poppy Louise Hager.