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SPA Announces 2017-2018 Distinguished Speaker Series Featuring Jill Biden

Penn State’s Student Programming Association announced its lineup for the 2017-2018 Distinguished Speaker Series Tuesday afternoon, including Michael Sam, Jill Biden, a diversity panel including Noor Tagouri, Sonia Nazario, and Brian Mosteller, and W. Kamau Bell. The Penn State community will also have the opportunity to vote on an additional speaker for the spring semester.

The Pennsylvania State University Student Programming Association Lectures Committee is excited to announce its 2017-2018 Distinguished Speaker Series featuring Michael Sam (9/26), Jill Biden (10/10), a Diversity Panel featuring Noor Tagouri, Sonia Nazario and Brian Mosteller (3/20), W. Kamau Bell (4/3), and an undecided Spring speaker that the Penn State Community can vote on. In addition to the Distinguished Speaker series, SPA has partnered with Penn State Reads to bring Lynsey Addario.

Michael Sam —  8 p.m. Tuesday, September 26 at Heritage Hall

Michael Sam was a University of Missouri football star who was ready for the 2014 NFL draft when he came out as gay during an ESPN interview and was almost sidelined for it. He’s now a pioneer for the LGBTQ community and an icon for inclusion. Tickets to see Sam’s lecture will be available to students beginning September 12. Any remaining tickets will become available to the public one week later on September 19.

Jill Biden — 8 p.m. Tuesday, October 10 at Eisenhower Auditorium

Jill Biden, wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, will speak on the launch of the Biden Foundation and her commitment to strengthening the middle class, protecting women and children against violence, and supporting community colleges and military families. Dr. Biden is a full-time English professor at a community college in Northern Virginia and will also highlight the importance of community colleges to America’s future.

Diversity on a College Campus Panel — 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 20 at Alumni Hall

The Discussion of Diversity on a College Campus panel will feature Noor Tagouri, Sonia Nazario, and Brian Mosteller. Tagouri was the first woman ever to wear a hijab in a Playboy issue, Nazario wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning Enrique’s Journey, her story of a Honduran boy’s struggle to find his mother in the United States, and Mosteller served as a behind-the-scenes hero during the Obama administration before former Vice President Joe Biden officiated a a marriage ceremony for him and his partner.

W. Kamau Bell — 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 3 in Alumni Hall

W. Kamau Bell travels the country as host of the CNN documentary series “United Shades of America.” He’s previously been star of though-provoking one-man show “The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour” and widely-praised FX comedy series, “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.” Bell is best known for his level-headed view of the world that’ll leave you thinking about the state of the union long after his lecture.

Final Speaker Survey

The final speaker of the series will be determined based on a survey from SPA that gauges interest in genres and also in specific speakers like Buzz Aldrin, Jane Goodall, Elon Musk, and Common. Vote in the survey here.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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