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College Counseling

Guest Attorney Gives Inspiring Career Presentation

Last Friday, Grier hosted a special guest speaker during Extra Help. Chief Intellectual Property Counsel for a Boston-area corporation, Mary E. Porter spoke about women inventors, scientists, lawyers, and executives to an audience of Grier girls gathered in the library. Her message was not only to showcase the inspirational women of the past and present, but to also reveal how their often varied educational backgrounds, personal life experiences, and job opportunities often coalesced into unique and fulfilling careers.
Following her introduction where she described her own education and career that included BS and MS degrees in Food Science and a minor in Biochemistry before recieving her JD from Villanova University, Ms. Porter introduced some early patent-holding women and notable female inventors. Among these was Patsy O. Sherman famous for her discovery of Scotch Guard while working at the 3M Corporation. About invention and discovery, Sherman’s advice was, “Keep your eyes & mind open and don’t ignore something that doesn’t come out the way you expect it to. Just keep looking at the world with inventor’s eyes.”

Next, Ms. Porter presented a few women pioneers from her current field: law. This list included the famous Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor, as well as, US Federal Circuit Court Judge Pauline Newman, MA Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshal, US Attorney General Janet Reno, and US Patent Office head Michelle Lee.

The presentation wrapped up with an overview of some amazing women executives who shattered the glass ceiling, such as Michelle Buck of Hershey Foods and Mary Barra of General Motors. The Wojcicki sisters are an amazing trio of women. Anne Wojcicki is the co-founder and CEO of 23andme, while her sister Susan Wojcicki is the CEO of YouTube. Third sister, Janet Wojcicki collected four degrees on her way to her current position of Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California – San Francisco’s School of Medicine.

Mary Porter noted that when she was a young girl, there were no female heads of major corporations. It is encouraging to see the contributions women have made to the fields of STEM, Law, and Business. Today’s girls can find inspiration through the stories of these brave, thoughtful, and brilliant women and the varied educational and career paths they took to achieve success.

Grier is grateful to Mary E. Porter for visiting and delivering this enriching presentation. It is because she is the sister of Grier History teacher Mr. Bob Porter that Grier was able to connect with her. Thanks to Ms. Porter for sharing her knowledge and experience, to Mr. Porter for coordinating the event, and to the attentive and engaged audience of Grier girls.

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RW | Photos: RW
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