Distinguished Speaker Series

The Distinguished Speaker Series engages students and university members in relevant, thought-provoking discussions of a diverse range of issues that impact our lives and our communities.

Each year, the Speaker Series brings prominent activists, artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, environmentalists and other leading thinkers to campus to share their compelling stories and visionary ideas.

These high-profile speakers offer innovative learning experiences in the form of new concepts, diverse opinions, interesting insights and unusual perspectives that enhance awareness, encourage solutions and enhance student success and global competency. Question and answer sessions at events stimulate critical thinking and allow the free exchange of ideas.

The Distinguished Speaker Series encourages participants to become engaged citizens and leaders who inspire transformation and will be voices of change for future generations.

2017-18 Distinguished Speakers Series lineup:

Tuesday, September 21, 2017
Student Center Ballroom
4 p.m.
Nelson Mandela had a “long walk to freedom”, yet his footprints still remain. Following in the footsteps of his beloved and iconic grandfather, Ndaba Mandela has taken the torch – and run with it. Today, Nelson Mandela’s legacy lives on as Ndaba continues to keep its beacon of hope bright, fueling its fiery message that one person can make a difference. Thankfully for all, the legacy lives, as Ndaba was recently named one of the “28 Men of Change” by BET. Today, Ndaba is showing the world, through his actions and orations, that Nelson Mandela’s voice and message of freedom still carries and rings true – sounded by a child that became a man under the warm embrace and expert tutelage of one of the history’s greatest teachers. Currently, Ndaba is organizing the 95th celebration of Nelson Mandela day and was also instrumental in creating the International Day of Happiness at the United Nations. He continues to keep Mandela in the world’s mind.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Student Center East Ballroom
4 p.m.
Alex Sheen is the Founder of because I said I would, the international social movement and nonprofit dedicated to the betterment of humanity through promises made and kept. He will be discussing the topic “The Life of a Promise”.

Sparked by the loss of his father, Alex began sending promise cards to anyone who requested them at no cost. Since his father’s passing on September 4, 2012, because I said I would have sent over 6.64M promise cards to over 150 countries. Alex’s commitment to the betterment of humanity has inspired millions around the world. The story of his promises has been shared virally throughout social media and international news.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Student Center East Ballroom
4 p.m.
Ken E. Nwadike Jr is a peace activist, video journalist and YouTube personality best known as the Free Hugs Guy online. Nwadike Jr is the founder of the Free Hugs Project, which produces motivational videos to spread love, inspire change, and raise awareness of social issues. His ‘Free Hugs’ videos have reached hundreds of millions of views on Facebook and YouTube. As a former homeless student-athlete, Nwadike overcame many challenges to now own Superhero Events – an event production company that raises funds and awareness for homeless teens.
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Student Center East Ballroom
4 p.m.

Sunny Hostin is ABC News' senior legal correspondent, appearing frequently on Good Morning America, Nightline, and 20/20.  In addition to her ABC News duties, Sunny officially joined the cast of The View for the talk show’s 20th season.

From 2007 to 2016, Hostin was a host and legal analyst at CNN. She covered many high profile trials, from George Zimmerman to Casey Anthony, and a number of other major stories, including the AME church shooting in Charleston, and the unrest in Ferguson and Baltimore. Prior to working at CNN, Sunny filled in as co-anchor for ABC News’ World News Now and America This Morning. She began her legal career as an appellate law clerk, trial attorney for the Justice Department and lastly a federal prosecutor. She received a Special Achievement Award from then-Attorney General Janet Reno during her time as a federal prosecutor prosecuting child sex crimes.

Thursday, February 22, 2018
Student Center East Ballroom
4 p.m.

An American businessman, investor, television personality, author and motivational speaker. He is best known as the founder, president, and CEO of FUBU, and appears as an investor on the ABC reality television series Shark Tank. When Daymond John first had the idea for a clothing company for young men, his mother taught him how to sew and supported him by allowing her house to be taken over to grow the business.
To make ends meet, John held a full-time job at Red Lobster, working on the FUBU business in between shifts.

Tuesday, March 22, 2018
Student Center East Ballroom
4 p.m.

An American businesswoman. She is the former Director of Market Development and spokesperson for Facebook, and a sister of the company's co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Prior to working at Facebook, she was a panelist on Forbes on Fox. As of May 2014, she is founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, editor-in-chief (EIC) of Dot Complicated, a digital lifestyle website,[5] and creator of Dot., an animated television show about a young girl (the eponymous Dot) who uses technology to enhance both her educational experiences and recreational activities, which airs on Sprout.

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