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SPA Announces Spring 2017 Distinguished Speaker Series

As SPA’s programming kicks off for the new semester, the folks in green are looking to capitalize on a great SPA Day by bringing even more big names to campus. Included in this, of course, is the Distinguished Speaker Series which SPA just announced.

This semester’s series will feature lectures from Ibtihaj Muhammad, Laverne Cox, and Jean-Michel Cousteau, who will speak on February 23, March 28, and April 10, respectively.

Muhammad, a member of the American fencing team, won a bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics, becoming the first Muslim-American athlete to earn her way onto the Olympic podium. She was also the first Muslim-American woman to compete for the United States in the Olympics while wearing a hijab. In addition to being a trail-blazing world-class athlete, Muhammad is an official sports ambassador and uses her role to empower women through sports.

Her talk will begin at 8 p.m. in Heritage Hall, but those wishing to attend must acquire a ticket from SPA. Tickets are free to any student with a Penn State ID and you can pick one up at the SPA office (226 HUB) or on February 9 in the HUB. Tickets will be made available to the public starting February 16.

Laverne Cox will be the second of the three speakers, and this isn’t her first trip to Happy Valley. Cox is an advocate for the LGBTQ community and best known for her role in “Orange Is The New Black.” She was also the first openly transgender woman to be nominated for an Emmy.

Cox will speak at 8 p.m. in Eisenhower Auditorium and students will also need a ticket to attend. Seeing as the lecture isn’t until after spring break, SPA will release ticket information at a later time, but we do know students will be able to get them for free with a Penn State ID.

Environmentalist and oceanic explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau rounds out the group of speakers. Son of the famous ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, he has produced more than 80 films to advocate for the environment and educate young people. He also founded the Ocean Futures Society in 1999 and has dedicated his life to protecting the oceans.

Cousteau will speak in the HUB’s Alumni Hall on Monday, April 10 at 8 p.m. Students will be able to pick up tickets from the SPA office as the lecture gets closer, but more ticket information will be released in the future. The lecture is also free to students with a valid Penn State ID.

As the spring semester marches on, SPA will continue to bring big acts to campus. Don’t forget — the entirety of comedy month (April) is still on the horizon.

About the Author

Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.


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