SPA Releases Spring 2017 Distinguished Speaker Series

The Student Programming Association‘s (SPA) Lectures Committee announced Tuesday that Ibtihaj Muhammed (2/23), Laverne Cox (3/28), and Jean-Michel Cousteau (4/10) will headline this spring’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

Olympic fencing athlete Ibtihaj Muhammed will speak as part of the series on Feb. 23 in the HUB’s Heritage Hall at 8 p.m. Muhammed has broken stereotypes, becoming the first Muslim-American athlete to medal at the Olympics.

Muhammad has received numerous medals, including three All Americans and the 2005 Junior Olympic Champion, as well as a member of the U.S. National Fencing Team. In addition to her abilities on the field, she is an official sports ambassador with the State Department’s Empowering Women and Girls Through Sport Initiative.

Tickets for her lecture will be available to Penn State students with a valid PSU ID at SPA’s Office in 226 HUB or during SPA’s tabling hours starting Thursday, Feb. 9. Remaining tickets will be available to the public beginning Feb. 16.

Orange is the New Black star, Laverne Cox will once again head to campus for a lecture in Eisenhower Auditorium at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28. Cox is an Emmy nominated actress and producer known for her role as Sophia Burset in Orange is the New Black. Cox is the first Black transgender women to have a leading role on a mainstream television show and has advocated for transgender rights.

Cox has appeared on various tv shows including The Mindy Project, Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce and Faking It. In addition, Cox’s documentary Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word aired on MTV and Logo.

Tickets for Cox’s visit will be available for students with a valid Penn State ID at all Center for the Performing Arts (CPA) ticket locations at a later date.

Last but certainly not least, is explorer, environmentalist and educator Jean-Michel Cousteau. Cousteau will speak in the HUB’s Alumni Hall on Mon., April 10 at 8 p.m.

Cousteau has investigated the world’s oceans abroad Calypso and Alcyone for much of his life, thanks to his father, ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

He founded the Ocean Futures Society in 1999 to carry on the pioneering work of his family and currently travels the world educating, documenting, and sharing stories of his discoveries and life experiences.

Cousteau has produced over 80 films and received Emmy, Peabody, Sept d’Or and Cable Ace Awards.

Tickets will be available for Cousteau’s visit to Penn State at a later date, with Penn State students with a valid Penn State ID getting first dibs.

More information on the lecture series and dates for ticket dates will be available on SPA’s social media pages.