Common, Bethany Hamilton Headline 2015-2016 Southeast Speakers Series



CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug. 21, 2015 – Southeast Missouri State University will continue its University Speakers Series in 2015-2016 with presentations by men and women from the forefront of their respected fields offering compelling stories and inspiring visionary ideas for tomorrow’s leaders.

Among this year’s lineup are host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” contributing editor at The Atlantic and Washington Post columnist, Fareed Zakaria; professional surfing champion, shark attack survivor and author, Bethany Hamilton; Oscar nominated actor, Grammy-winning musician and author, Common; acclaimed author, veteran, Rhodes Scholar and the founder of BridgeEDU, Wes Moore; and Boston Marathon survivor and national hero, Jeff Bauman.

The University also is expecting to announce a sixth speaker, a world-class champion, at a later date.

“Southeast offers one of the finest university speaker series in the Midwest, and I could not be more proud of the program that is planned for this upcoming academic year,” said Dr. Debbie Below, vice president for enrollment management and student success and dean of students. “There is something for everyone, and I challenge all students to attend at least one of these events.

“It is exciting to offer such an impressive series for our region,” she continued. “We hope to attract a large audience for all the speakers this year, not only from our student body, but from the University’s service region as well. This is the community’s university. We want everyone to know they are welcome to attend these events.”

“This year’s University Speakers Series is a testament to the ‘Will To Do,’” said Joanna Shaver, coordinator of campus programming. “Each speaker is a survivor, whether it be due to physical, economic, cultural or racial limitations.  Each presenter has a message to share that will enlighten our University and surrounding community with the commitment it took for them to succeed.  While all the names may not be familiar, their stories are dynamic and will undoubtedly leave an impression on all who attend.”


Tickets are required for the Common, Hamilton and Zakaria events and are $10. They can be purchased at and the Show Me Center Box Office. Current Southeast faculty, staff and students can use a valid Redhawks ID to pick up a free ticket for these three events in the Center for Student Involvement (University Center Room 204) or the Show Me Center Box Office. Tickets for the Zakaria event will be available Aug. 24. Tickets for the Common and Hamilton event will go on sale Jan. 19.

Admission to the Bauman event is free and open to the public.

Tickets for the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner, during which Moore will speak, will go on sale in early December.

More information on the series is available at


All events except for Bauman’s presentation will be held in the Show Me Center. The Bauman event will be held in Academic Hall Auditorium.

Jeff Bauman

J. Bauman Photo 2-nk

Jeff Bauman

Jeff Bauman, Boston Marathon survivor and national hero, will be the keynote speaker for Patriot Day at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 13, in Academic Hall Auditorium, kicking off Southeast’s 2015-2016 Speakers Series. The title of his address is “Beyond the Finish Line: A Conversation with Jeff Bauman.” The event is free for faculty, staff, students and the public, and no tickets are necessary.

On April 15, 2013, Bauman stood at the finish line of the Boston Marathon eagerly awaiting his girlfriend Erin. As he waited, an ominous looking man dressed in dark clothing appeared. The man who seemed so out of place on such a festive day dropped a black backpack only a few feet from Bauman and moments later, the first of two explosions rocked Boylston Street.

Bauman was gravely injured, losing both of his legs along with other serious injuries. Amongst the smoke and carnage appeared Carlos Arrendondo, a peace activist who was at the marathon. He quickly lifted Bauman and got him to an ambulance, saving his life.

Once inside the ambulance, Bauman told the EMTs that he knew who had set off the bomb. Despite being somewhat delirious and in shock, he still remembered the man in dark clothing with whom he’d made eye contact with just minutes before the blast. When Bauman woke up from surgery, FBI agents were outside his door. He started talking, a sketch artist started drawing and soon the FBI had identified the two suspects. Days later their reign of terror over the city of Boston had ended and Bauman went from a normal 27-year-old Costco employee, musician and Boston sports fan, to national hero.

Since that tragic day, Bauman has remained a beacon of hope, strength and resilience and his story is featured in the New York Times Best-Selling Memoir “Stronger” that is currently being adapted for film. A photo of Bauman and Arrendondo surfaced that day and is now the most iconic image of the marathon tragedy. He now shares his story with audiences across the country in a presentation that will be sure to uplift and inspire.

Fareed Zakaria


Fareed Zakaria

Host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” contributing editor at The Atlantic and Washington Post columnist, Fareed Zakaria will speak at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Show Me Center.

Zakarias’ presentation is titled “In Defense of a Liberal Education.”

Born in India and educated at Yale and Harvard, where he received his doctoral degree, Zakaria became the youngest managing editor of Foreign Affairs at the age of 28. He was the editor of Newsweek International from 2000 to 2010 and editor-at-large at TIME from 2010 to 2014.

“Fareed Zakaria GPS,” CNN’s flagship international affairs program, has become a destination for those seeking smart commentary and civil conversation about the big ideas and global challenges of our time. Winner of a 2012 Peabody Award, the Emmy-nominated GPS features Zakaria’s fascinating panel discussions and one-on-one interviews with heads of state, intellectuals and business leaders. His columns and covers stories — ranging from the future of the Middle East and America’s role in the world to the politics and culture of the global economy — reach millions of readers.

Zakaria’s international bestseller “The Post-American World” is about the “rise of the rest,” analyzing the growth of China, India and Brazil, among others, and what it means for the future. The New York Times called it “a relentlessly intelligent book,” while the Boston Sunday Globe praised Zakaria for having “more intellectual range and insights than any other public thinker in the West.” His previous New York Times bestseller, “The Future of Freedom,” has been translated into more than 20 languages and was called “a work of tremendous originality and insight” by The Washington Post. Zakaria serves on the board of the New America Foundation. He has won the Deadline Club Award for Best Columnist, a National Magazine Award, two Overseas Press Club Awards, and the Padma Bhushan. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Slate. Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers. His latest book, “In Defense of a Liberal Education,” debuted at number six on The New York Times Best Sellers list in April 2015.

One of Jon Stewart’s favorite guests on The Daily Show, Zakaria is known for his good humor, wit, and unique approach to international relations that combine the knowledge of a historian and the theoretical command of a political scientist. Zakaria is widely respected for his thoughtful analysis and ability to spot economic and political trends. Esquire magazine described him as “the most influential foreign policy advisers of his generation.”

Wes Moore

W. Moore Photo-nk

Wes Moore

Wes Moore, an acclaimed author, veteran, Rhodes Scholar and the founder of BridgeEDU, will present the keynote address at Southeast Missouri State University’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner Jan. 20 in the Show Me Center.

An incredibly successful and sought-after speaker, Moore entrances audiences with his infectious zest for life. He has the rare ability to enthrall, inspire, engage and captivate. He has been featured by USA Today, TIME magazine, People magazine, “Meet the Press,” “The Colbert Report,” MSNBC and NPR, among many other media outlets. Moore is also the host of “Beyond Belief” on the Oprah Winfrey Network, and the executive producer and host of PBS’s “Coming Back with Wes Moore,” which focuses on the re-integration of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their return home.

Moore is a celebrated author with two New York Times Best Sellers under his name. Moore’s first book, “The Other Wes Moore,” is a story of mentorship and support networks that refused to let him fall through the cracks in our urban communities. It tells the tale of two kids with the same name living in the same decaying city. One grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar and White House Fellow after serving in the prestigious 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army. The other is currently serving a life sentence for the killing of a police officer during an armed robbery. Burning with curiosity as to why he and the other Wes were so radically different, Moore investigated the man with the same name. The result was an instant New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller which captured the nation’s attention on what draws the line between success and failure in our communities.

His most recent book, “The Work,” is a collection of “…incredibly valuable lessons about what it means to create lives that matter… [it is]a way of exploring the meaning of success in a volatile, difficult, and seemingly anchorless world.” The book, which debuted at No. 15 on the New York Times Best Seller List, was received as a model for how we can weave valuable lessons together from supremely different people in order to forge individual paths to triumph.

Filled with stories of everyday people, Moore’s very human perspective coupled with his transformative programs bring concrete benefits. Audiences leave with new outlooks and sincere motivation to tackle today’s problems. As theologian Howard Thurman once said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who come alive.”




Oscar-nominated actor, Grammy-winning musician, author and King of Conscious Hip-Hop Common will present the University’s annual Michael Davis Lecture as a component of Southeast’s 2015-2016 Speakers Series Feb. 23 in the Show Me Center.

The Michael Davis Lecture recognizes the contributions of African-Americans in the media. The event also honors the late Michael Davis, a journalism student at Southeast who died as a result of a hazing incident. In 1997, the then Department of Mass Communication held the first Michael Davis Lecture to honor his memory as part of the University’s Black History Month activities. The Michael Davis Lecture continues each year with a special invited guest from the mass media.

The “King of Conscious Hip Hop,” Common is one of music’s most poetic and respected lyricists. Over the course of nine albums, his introspective rhymes have pushed boundaries with their incisive social commentary. From “Can I Borrow a Dollar?” to “BE” and “Finding Forever” along with his Grammy-nominated collaborations with Kanye West, Common has spent 16 years in the notoriously fickle world of hip hop by taking risks and staying one step ahead of the game.

In 2007, he launched the Common Ground Foundation, an organization dedicated to the empowerment and development of America’s urban youth. Offering the younger generations a better understanding of self-respect and love, he has combined hip hop with literature, releasing three children’s books: “The MIRROR and ME,” “I like You but I Love Me” and “M.E. (Mixed Emotions).” His first book for adults is the provocative and touching memoir, “One Day It’ll All Make Sense.” In 2015, Common received an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song with John Legend for their powerful collaboration, “Glory,” featured in the civil rights film, “Selma.”

Common has also branched out into acting, portraying freed slave Elam Ferguson in AMC’s historical drama series “Hell on Wheels.” He also appears in several movies, including “Smokin’ Aces,” “Wanted,” “Terminator Salvation,” “Date Night” and “Just Wright.” Whether inspiring audiences through his music, his books or his foundation, Common continues to break new ground, and remains one of hip hop’s most innovative, positive voices.

Bethany Hamilton


Bethany Hamilton

Professional surfing champion, shark attack survivor and author Bethany Hamilton will speak at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 4, in the Show Me Center.

Her presentation is titled “An Evening with Bethany Hamilton.”

At the age of 13, on Oct. 31, 2003, Hamilton was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off Kauai’s North Shore. The attack left Bethany with a severed left arm. After losing 60 percent of her blood, and making it through several surgeries without infection, Hamilton was on her way to recovery with an unbelievably positive attitude. Lifeguards and doctors believed her strong water sense and faith in God helped get her through this traumatic ordeal.

One month later, Hamilton returned to the water to continue pursuing her goal of becoming a professional surfer. In January of 2004, she made her return to surfing competition and placed fifth in the Open Women’s division of that contest. With no intentions of stopping, Hamilton continued to excel and won first in the Explorer Woman’s division of the 2005 NSSA National Championships, winning her first national title. In 2007, she realized her dream and turned pro.

Since losing her arm, Hamilton’s story has been told in hundreds of media outlets and in October 2004, she shared her story in her autobiography, “Soul Surfer.” Seven years later the book was made into a major motion picture bearing the same title. Hamilton has also written many other books, including “Devotions for the Soul Surfer,” “Rise Above,” “A Soul Surfer Bible,” “Ask Bethany” and “Crash, Burned, Storm and Crunch.”

Hamilton’s story is continually growing as she strives to be the best at whatever God calls her to do. The future is truly wide open for this young soul surfer.