Who Is Barbara Bush?
One of former President George W. Bush’s twin daughters, Barbara Bush grew up in Texas before attending Yale University. Influenced by a visit to Africa, she spurred the 2008 launch of Global Health Corps, a nonprofit devoted to improving health care in poorer communities. Bush has also served on the boards of other prominent organizations and has authored books with her sister, Jenna Bush Hager.
Barbara Pierce Bush was born on November 25, 1981, in Dallas, Texas, just ahead of her twin sister, Jenna. Named after her paternal grandmother, the wife of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, she is the daughter of Laura Bush and Texas Governor turned U.S. President George W. Bush.
Appearing in public together since toddlerhood, the Bush girls formed an inseparable bond even as each forged her individual identity. Barbara, who resembled her reserved mother in looks and temperament, showed more of an interest in art and design by picking up needlepoint and learning to paint portraits.
After attending elementary schools in Texas and Washington, D.C., the twins enrolled at Stephen F. Austin High School. Bush competed for the cross-country team, earned acceptance to the National Honor Society and was named homecoming queen and “Most Likely to Appear in Vogue” by her classmates (Jenna was voted “Most Likely to Trip on Prom Night”).
Although they went their separate ways for college – Bush was accepted to Yale University in Connecticut and Jenna attended UT-Austin – the twins made headlines in May 2001, early in their father’s presidency, for an underage drinking incident at a popular Austin bar.
Bush otherwise kept out of the spotlight and mostly steered clear of official White House activity, save for accompanying her parents on international expeditions, as she sought to live something of a normal college life. Along with joining the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, she pursued her design interests by studying architecture and scoring internships with Lela Rose and the creators of the Proenza Schouler brand, before graduating with a B.A. in Humanities in 2004.
Bush later earned her master’s in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School in 2020.
Profoundly influenced by a trip to Africa to help launch the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003, Bush spent nine months volunteering at South Africa’s Red Cross Children’s Hospital after college, and remained in Africa to work on behalf of UNICEF and the UN World Food Programme.
Back in the States, Bush landed an educational programming position with the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, but her thoughts remained with the less fortunate children of poorer communities.