Valparaiso University’s Institute for Leadership and Service announces its fall 2019 Pathways to Purpose speaker series, featuring speakers and topics that generate momentum for engagement, learning and change.

The speaker series welcomes exemplary practitioners of leadership and service and alumni who respond to the deepest challenges of our time and help to expand student imagination about pursuing purposeful work. 

Speakers include:

Evan Narcisse: “Origin Stories: The Intersection of Comic Books and Calling,” Sept. 5, 7 p.m., Christopher Center, Community Room. Formerly a reporter focused on science fiction and technology, Evan Narcisse, author of Marvel’s “Rise of the Black Panther” series, will share his own professional journey and the role of superhero stories in shaping our own experience of calling and purpose. 

Helen Rhee: “Chronic Pain, Sustaining Faith: Hope and Healing in Research and Real Life,” Sept. 18, 5:30 p.m., Helge Center. A pastor and a scholar, Helen Rhee, Ph.D., professor of history of Christianity and religious studies at Westmont College, is currently working on a book on chronic pain and disability and speaks about this issue both in the context of early Christian history and as it relates to her own personal experience as someone living with chronic pain.

Michelle Ramos: “From Ballerina to Boss: The Power of a Non-Traditional Resume,” Oct. 23, 7 p.m., Duesenberg Recital Hall, Center for the Arts. Michelle Ramos, Ph.D., is the executive director of Alternate Roots, a regional arts service organization championing social and economic justice. In addition to being a licensed attorney and holding a Ph.D. in cultural psychology, she has committed her career to serving communities and individuals adversely impacted by issues of race, gender, disability, class, socioeconomics, inequitable laws and systemic oppression. 

Aaron Yazzie: “Found in Space: From Navajo Reservation to NASA Exploration,” Nov. 6, 5:30 p.m., Helge Center. As a mechanical engineering working in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Aaron Yazzie’s most recent projects include the InSight lander, which touched down on Mars in November 2018. One of 21 Native Americans working in NASA Centers, Yazzie was actively involved with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society in high school and is now supporting students in his old shoes through leadership of a NASA-Navajo Summer Camp.

Ali Michael: “Advocating for Equity in Education: What Can We do with Well-Intentioned Whiteness?” Nov. 13, 7 p.m., Christopher Center, Community Room. Typically asked to speak to educators, Ali Michael, Ph.D., will bring her research of effective allyship to Valpo’s campus in a way that incorporates a wider audience and her own story of coming to work on issues of equity and inclusion. Michael is the co-founder and director of the Race Institute for K-12 Educators, and she teaches in the Diversity and Inclusion Program at Princeton University as well as the Equity Summits with University of Southern California. 

All events are free and open to the public. 

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