meet laura

Teaching Portfolio
Education & Experience
Bio & Key Skills

For me, the most overlooked, amazing, transformative city in the United States is Detroit, Michigan. Years back, I accepted my first tenure track position and landed smack dab in the heart of the city. I went there because I needed a job and Wayne State was the first Carnegie I Research University that called. I was also just young enough to be impressed by George Ziegelmueller driving me around campus in the blowing snow and by Jack Kay treating me to dinner atop the RenCen. From the revolving restaurant, the city looked serene. The company was warm. The job sounded . . . well, it sounded okay. I'd be a short timer anyway. I had no real interest in living in Detroit. But then my whole world changed. Teaching senior level video production labs and graduate courses in media theory and criticism, the students captured me. My undergraduates needed help negotiating the academic program--lacking prior access to full time faculty, they had issues to be solved. I became their advocate--a voice for needs no one in the department knew existed. As hard as I worked, they worked harder. One young mother never missed a class. Pregnant in the studio one week, wearing a sleeping baby the next, she refused to lose even one opportunity to participate. Another woman, older this time, struggled with technology, but wasn't giving up. A survivor of divorce brutality, she would bring herself back to life through education. I saw and experienced more discrimination there than I'd ever known. I also saw and experienced more determination, more creativity, and more faith in possibilities. My graduate students were totally different, but equally amazing. Whole seminars filled with people who had so little in common you'd never imagine them conversing. Absolutely wealthy, barely scraping by, older, younger, differently abled, black, white, brown, LGBTQ, evangelical, hippie, conservative, business executive, artist, chef, Detroiter, transplant. They embraced the challenge of education, if not each other. I shared what I knew about media . . . I designed production facilities . . . I advised . . . I spent a lot of time problem-solving, listening, reaching out. Jack and George are gone now, but from time to time I still hear from some of my students. They seem appreciative of me and our time at Wayne, but what they'll never fully understand, because I can't quite explain it, is how together they transformed my life, my perspectives, my understanding of humanity. Cable Creek is dedicated to them, to that constellation of moments that continues, to this day, to define for me the importance of everyday engagements and the relentless pursuit of education, friendship, feminist interventions, and social justice.