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Travis Roy to be featured in first Diversity Series lecture




Contact: Lea Ann Erickson
Assistant Vice President of
Public Relations and Marketing 
Phone: 508-929-8018

September 9, 2009

(Worcester, Mass.) - Worcester State College will launch its third annual Diversity Lecture Series, Wednesday, September 23rd at 11:30 a.m. in the Student Center Blue Lounge with Travis Roy presenting "Conquering Life's Hurdles.”  The lecture is sponsored by Student Center/Student Activities, Disability Services and Flagship Bank. “We are proud that this lecture series continues the tradition of rich discussion at Worcester Sate College,” said President Janelle Ashley. 

Travis Roy first entered the national stage on October 20, 1995 when, only eleven seconds into the first shift of his college hockey career at Boston University, he shattered his fourth and fifth vertebra, severely damaging his spinal cord.  Left as a quadriplegic, Travis faced his disability with optimism and determination and finished his college career at BU and went on to write the book, “Eleven Seconds” detailing his life experiences before and after the accident. The book will  soon be available for purchase in the bookstore. The lecture is free and open to the public.


Other lectures in the series include:


Haider Hamza will present, “Talk to an Iraqi,” Tuesday, October 20 at 11:30 a.m. in the Student Center Blue Lounge.  Twenty-four year old Iraqi journalist Haider Hamza lived through the 2003 US-led invasion of his country. While in Iraq, Haider covered all the major events that took place in his country such as live coverage of all 40 trial sessions of his former president Saddam Hussein from inside the courtroom, witnessing the killing of Saddam’s sons, the elections and referendum, establishment of his country’s new governments and political cabinet, the killing of al Qaeda leader, Abu Mussab al Zarqawi and the daily sectarian violence. When life in Iraq became too dangerous, Haider fled to the United States. New to America and wanting to understand what the American people felt about their country’s involvement in Iraq, Haider decided to travel across the US to talk to people about the war. He drove through 35 states setting up a mobile booth with a sign that says “Talk to an Iraqi.”  Haider’s powerful and fascinating lecture includes poignant and touching film clips from his road trip in America, a slide of photos he took of post-war Iraq, thoughts on the conflict in his country, the presence of US troops there, and his personal struggle to heal the wounds of oppression.  This lecture is also sponsored by Student Center/Student Activities, Disability Services and Flagship Bank.


Dr. Dean Hamer will discuss, “The Gay Gene and the God Gene,” Wednesday, November 18,  at 11:30 a.m. in the Student Center Blue Lounge. One of America's leading geneticists and author of The God Gene, Dr. Dean Hamer rose to prominence for finding the "gay gene", a discovery that revolutionized our understanding of human sexuality and ignited a fierce controversy over gay rights. In his talk, Hamer presents the overwhelming scientific evidence for a biological component to sexual orientation. This evidence led to his groundbreaking discovery of the first direct link between sexual orientation and genetic makeup: a common pattern of DNA markers on the X chromosome of gay brothers. Or, as it is now known, the "Gay Gene." Hamer addresses some of the tough questions that the research raises for society. Would it be possible or ethical to test in utero for the gay gene? Could or should genetic manipulation be used to alter a person's sexuality? Should GLBT rights be based on biology, or on more fundamental principles of human equality? He illustrates these issues by reference to his own experiences with pro- and anti-gay activists. 


“Meeting David Wilson: A Conversation about Race in America,” will be presented, Thursday, February 25, at 11:30 a.m. in the Student Center Blue Lounge. A 28 year-old African-American journalist, David Wilson traveled deep into his family’s past to find the answers to America’s racial divide. His journey resulted in the feature length documentary “Meeting David Wilson”, which he wrote and co-directed. In researching his family’s ancestry, David learned of a plantation in North Carolina where his family was once enslaved, and subsequently discovered that the plantation is owned today by a 62-year-old white man—also named David Wilson—who is a direct descendant of his family’s slave Master. This discovery leads to a momentous encounter between these two men who share the same name, but whose ancestors were on the opposite sides of freedom. In his interactive, multimedia lecture, David shows pivotal moments from the film, including his conversations with the white David Wilson, and discusses the state of race relations today, how we got here— both literally and figuratively—and where we’re headed.


Joan Hecht will present, "Journey of the Lost Boys," Tuesday, March 23, at 11:30 the Student Center Blue Lounge.  Hecht is the President and founder of Alliance for the Lost Boys of Sudan, a foundation that assists with the health and educational needs of Lost Boys and their families living in the US and Africa. She has been working with the Lost Boys, on a volunteer basis, since their arrival in the US in 2001, helping them to acclimate to their new lives in America. Through her foundation, she has assisted over 21 Lost Boys with college tuition and books. The Alliance has also contributed towards the building of a school and a hospital in Southern Sudan, as well as numerous other humanitarian projects in Southern Sudan. Hecht is the author of The Journey of the Lost Boys (2005) and was awarded "first place in education" at the International Promoting Outstanding Writers Book Awards, earning her the title "2005 Author of the Year."


All of the lectures are free and open to the public.


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