Claire & Lora Matway
From growing up in Squirrel Hill to attending Pitt together, Lora and Claire Matway have always had a love for Pittsburgh.
The Matway twins, both senior urban studies majors and daughters of Pitt English professor Elizabeth Matway, are drawn to solving social justice and environmental issues. And, as each other’s closest ally, Lora and Claire rarely have to take on these issues alone.
“I have a lot of love for Pittsburgh, and I have a lot of roots here and a lot of understanding of the work that needs to be done here, the problems that exist here and the communities that struggle, and I want to work with those communities,” Claire said.
The Matways’ concern with their communities began in their home.
“Our parents are very world-conscious people,” Lora said. “We grew up going to the Unitarian Universalist church, and there’s a lot of social justice work happening at that community. Also our friends, in middle school and high school, especially, were very social justice- and environmental justice-focused.”
With them, Lora said, “We got woke.”
Between the two of them, the sisters spin an impressive list of campus extracurriculars, frequently pausing and reminding each other of events and groups, which include Fossil Free Pitt Coalition, Campus Women’s Organization, Free the Planet — which Claire was co-president of for two years — United Students Against Sweatshops and Pitt Bicycle Collective, where Lora is currently the co-president.
The Matways have always found support from their friends and family — and from one another — for everything they’ve taken on, including coming out together in the seventh grade.
“[Coming out] is a thing that most people go through by themselves, and we didn’t have to go through it by ourselves,” Lora said. “So we were this queer twin team, coming out into the world together, so we always had an ally, and always had somebody we could share everything with.”
As they’ve gotten older, Lora and Claire have branched out into their own separate spaces and niches. Lora has a black belt in kung fu and became the president of the Women’s Rugby Football Club, for instance, and Claire played the piano for 12 years and runs half marathons.
But the longer they’ve been at Pitt, the more they find themselves gravitating back to the same social circles and groups.
“If we do end up working together, it’s a good thing,” Claire said.
But “we inhabit similar spaces, very differently,” Lora said, before amending herself. “Somewhat differently.”
To Claire, expanding on those differences is a tough question — not because they don’t exist, but because it’s difficult to make such a generalization.
“It’s really tough to articulate an answer that’s both genuine to our differences and encompassing of our super-deep shared identities and connections,” she said. “We’re definitely not the same person, [and] stating the differences between us as if they define us or our relationship ends up as an oversimplification.”
When looking toward the future, the Matways, like many of us, are unsure of what comes next. But they think that one day they’ll return to Pittsburgh.
“If you’re trying to do good work, where would you be the more impactful than the place you know the best?” Lora said. “I think we both have vague plans to boomerang, but we’ll see how it plays out.”