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Distinguished Speaker Series Returns to UNCP

This year, the university’s Distinguished Speaker Series will return to the stage of Givens Performing Arts Center (GPAC). The series features appearances from prominent stars and motivational speakers, who share their experiences of success and hardship with students. “The series provides an opportunity to provide our students and community the opportunity to enjoy top speakers who touch on major topics of today,” said Abdul Ghaffar, director of Campus Engagement and Leadership at UNCP. The series started in 1999 and throughout its first tenure brought A-list stars such as Spike Lee, Kevin Hart and Maya Angelou. However, “the series was halted due to a different direction in leadership and budget strengths,” said Ghaffar. The idea to bring the series back came at the request of many audience members, according to Executive Director of GPAC James Bass. “When I returned to UNCP to direct GPAC in 2016, it was the number one request I heard from people,” said Bass. “Then a few months later, Abdul also returned, and we knew we had to bring this series back. He’s really the leader on this. I’m just glad we can help.” Ghaffar said he hopes that students will gain a valuable “life experience” and that the series will be a memory they can look back on for years to come. “We want students to be motivated to excel by what they hear from our speakers. We also hope our speakers spark conversation at UNCP and beyond,” he added. According to a press release from GPAC, the 2018-2019 series lineup will consist of four speakers including Martin Sensmiere (“Magnificent 7” and “Wind River”), Wes Studi (“Dances with Wolves” and “The Last of the Mohicans”), Michael Eric Dyson (New York Times contributing opinion writer) and Diane Guerrero (Orange is the New Black, Superior Donuts and Jane the Virgin).

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