Creating a ‘Portrait of Women’

By Evan Brown

Laura Silverman ’11 designed and wrote a magazine called “Portrait of Women of Los Angeles 2010” with “approximately 20 profiles on different women who have worked or lived in Los Angeles and come from very different backgrounds and have different lifestyles,” she said.

Silverman not only took a journalism class last summer at the University of Southern California, but is also a member of the yearbook staff—two things that inspired her independent study.

“I learned so much this past summer at USC. I learned how to write a proper profile, how to develop appropriate questions for the interviewee and how to interact with people as well as conduct a thorough interview. I also learned how to cope with being rejected by people who hate being interviewed,” she said.

After visiting the Middle East the summer after 10th grade, Silverman chose to focus on women because she found that they are treated differently there, and “it inspired me to study how women in the U.S. live and exercise their rights.”

Silverman knew she wanted to apply for a senior independent study because “there wasn’t a class that focused only on women, where I could go out into the world and do my own research,” she said.

To contact the women she hoped to interview, Silverman had to email representatives or press advisers for some women involved in government. Fortunately, some interviewees had a personal connection to Silverman, or were suggested by other women she had interviewed.

Another important component to this project was finding a mentor. Silverman chose Martha Wheelock because she was her “English honors teacher last year, and she has always been really fun to work with. She is an inspiring woman, and she teaches gender studies,” she said.

Silverman produced “a copy for [all 18] interviewee and nine for the SISP committee, one for Wheelock, and one for the library, and one for me,” she said. In her magazine, Silverman placed a headshot and several pictures of what each woman does on a page.

Despite all of her hard work, Silverman feels that her decision to apply for a senior independent study was a sound one.

“This project has helped me interact with all different types of people. That will help me in any situation in life, and this project has also helped me become a better writer. I have learned how to manage my time, and also how important it is to be independent and achieve your goals.”