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Commencement Speakers Offer Inspiring Stories One survived a refugee camp to enter Harvard; one fights to help children

Two speakers with powerful stories will address NLU graduates at Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, June 12.

color72dpi2Mawi Asgedom, who survived war in Africa, a refugee camp and personal tragedy, persevered and graduated from Harvard University.  He is an author and inspirational speaker, motivating students to leadership and success. He will speak at NLU’s National College of Education Commencement.

Asgedom was only seven when he arrived in the United States in 1983. But by that time, he and his family had already endured civil war in their home nations of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and lived through three years in a Sudanese refugee camp. After settling in the U.S., both his father and brother were killed in separate drunk driver crashes not long apart. Giving the Commencement address at Harvard University at his own 1999 graduation launched him on a journey that led to writing his story in the best-selling “Of Beetles and Angels,” public speaking and appearing on the Oprah Winfrey show. He has developed inspirational courses for high school students on student success, college and career readiness, and leadership.

MarianWrightEdelmanMarian Wright Edelman, the first African-American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar in the mid-1960s and who later went on to found the Children’s Defense Fund, has become one of the nation’s premier advocates for children. She will speak at NLU’s College of Professional Studies and Advancement Commencement.

For 40 years, Edelman and the Children’s Defense Fund have championed policies and programs that lift children out of poverty. The non-profit organization also works to  protect children from abuse and neglect, and ensure their access to health care, quality education and a moral and spiritual foundation.

Edelman, who graduated from  Spelman College and Yale Law School, has written eight books about providing the best for children. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, in 2000.