2021-22 Distinguished Speaker Series

Distinguished speaker Jesse Cole has been Featured on MSNBC, CNN, ESPN, and Entrepreneur Magazine. Photo/ Rebecca L. Kenney.

By:Mahala Treish, Photo Editor

UNCP has announced the speakers for this year’s Distinguished Speaker Series on September 22.

All of the Distinguished Speakers begin at 7 p.m. It will cost $10 for general admission and $5 for faculty, staff and children. It is free for students who attend UNCP with a valid ID.

Jesse Cole: October 12, GPAC

Cole is the founder of Fans First Entertainment and is the owner of Savannah Bananas summer league baseball team. Cole also hosts a podcast called Business Done Differently where he interviews many different entrepreneurs and speakers. 

Tommy Orange: November 16, GPAC

Orange is an American Novelist who wrote the book “There, There” which was a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize and won American Book Award 2019. He has been mentioned by the New York Times, GQ,  NPR, LA Times and many more publications. 

“There, There” tells the story of American Indian history and gives a representation of their identity.

Bakari Sellers: February 18, GPAC

Sellers is an American attorney and served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 2006-2014, where he became the youngest member of the state legislature and the youngest African American elected official in the nation. Now he is a CNN political analyst and was named one of the New Civic Leaders for Times 40 Under 40. 

Angeline Boulley: March 28, UC Annex

Boulley is a storyteller for the Ojibwe Community in Michigan and wrote the book  “Firekeepers Daughter”. She was chosen to attend 2019 Tin House Workshop. Boulley was also a former Director of the Office of Indian Education at the US Department of Education.

Megan Ranney: April 12, UC Annex

Dr. Ranney is an emergency physician, researcher and nationally known voice for speaking about innovative public health solutions. Her research focuses mainly on digital health interventions to prevent violence and mental illness. She comments frequently on many different media outlets like CNN and The New York Times.    

“The Distinguished Speakers Series is a way for us to bring students in to see someone they may think is famous which draws our students to the event but hearing the message the speakers bring is really what this series is about,” Abdul Ghaffar, the Director of Campus Engagement and Leadership said.

Choosing a Distinguished Speaker Series takes several months to plan. Ghaffar makes sure to get input from faculty and students to take into consideration when choosing a speaker.

Speakers who appeal to the student population like actors turned into activists, authors with best sellers and more are what Campus Engagement and Leadership try to aim for when making the lineup for the series. 

“I’m happy that Dr. Cummings supports the series because without his support and the administration we would not be able to do it and it’s great for us to see academic departments that we are working with this year coming out and sponsoring these things with us,” Abdul Ghaffar said.

Many students have shown interest in the Distinguished Speakers Series and have enjoyed participating in past years.

“I have attended a Distinguished Speakers Series before, It was when Diane Guerror came to speak. It was a good experience and I enjoyed what she had to say,” Trinity Russell, senior said.

She would enjoy seeing more people who are film makers or tv hosts come to UNCP to speak. Having people who have a background in broadcasting would be something she would like to see as well. 

“ I do not have any Distinguished Speakers in mind that they could add. I already feel like there is an advocate there, they have a pretty good lineup already,” Deznique Graham, First Year Graduate studying for a masters in Social Work said.

She has never attended a Distinguished Speaker before but seems to have an interest in going to one of the speakers this year.

This series has many wise and intelligent speakers to help guide our student body with their words.

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