World traveler, energetic senior, community leader and plant lady-these are just a few of the words to describe Grambling alumna, Laura Woolridge Knighten. Laura graduated from Grambling in 1952. She was on the GSU campus in 2002 to celebrate her 50 year anniversary as a Grambling graduate. Laura is a staunch supporter of Grambling State University with her time and with her finances.
She is an active member of the Martha Adams Alumni Chapter and two of her three children are Grambling graduates. She will tell you she loves Grambling; there is no place like Grambling State University.
Laura, who will be 80 years old on her birthday in January, is a great example of the role and influence of Grambling graduates in every community throughout the world. She is one of the first Black women from Tangipahoa Parish to receive her Master’s Degree from Southeastern Louisiana University. She is a community activist and a supporter of those in need in her community.
She taught school for 30 years in the St. Helena and Tangipahoa Parish School systems. And though she is retired, at 79 she still mentors children. Her family can tell you stories about her two latest children ages 5 and 4 and her efforts at teaching them their alphabets, numbers and how to write their names.
Laura and her late husband Fred Emmitt Knighten have three children all of whom are college graduates. She has a son who has followed in her footsteps by becoming an educator. She has one daughter who is a computer programmer for UPS and another who is an attorney. She has four grandchildren, one of whom is a Morehouse graduate and another who is continuing the family tradition and attends Grambling State University.
Laura is still active in her community. She is a member and one of the original organizers of the Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum. She is an active member of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. She is active in her church and has served in various capacities on the local, state and national level. She is known far and wide for her many plants.
Some call her the plant doctor. When their plants start to look a little sick, they bring them to her for treatment. But when they do, they are sure to get a lecture on how to keep that plant healthy. If you come to Hammond to visit, don’t be surprised to find Laura outside working with her plants.
Young people love to be around Laura and they all say the same thing. “When I get older, I want to be just like you.” She tells them you have to start early taking care of your body, your soul and your Spirit. Her advice on finances is “Don’t spend all you earn. Put something away every pay period.”
Her grandson likes to call her a senior jetsetter. Laura has been traveling for as long as anyone can remember. When asking about Laura, the questions usually begin with “Where is she now?” Laura has traveled extensively in the U.S and she has been to Africa, Egypt, Israel, Mexico, Europe, the Caribbean, Canada and not even she can remember them all. When talking to Laura, the questions are, “Where have you been?” or “Where are you going?”
Laura is a true Gramblinite-Serving her God, her family, her community and her college. Don’t be surprised to look around and see her at any Grambling game shouting with the best of them for victory for dear old Grambling.