Celebration of Ideas Lecture Series Continues with Liz Murray

Thursday, March 01, 2012

 The Celebration of Ideas Lecture Series at Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College brings nationally prominent speakers of diverse viewpoints to campus each fall and spring. The series continues at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, in Colebank Hall Gym with Liz Murray, whose life story was the subject of the Lifetime Television movie “From Homeless to Harvard.”

“It is our goal to create a campus environment where open exchange of ideas is both promoted and celebrated,” said Dr. Quentin Johnson, Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services.

“We believe that the development of our student body must include exposure to a variety of ideas. Through this exposure, our students will be better prepared to operate in an increasingly complex society. We are very fortunate to be able to bring this diverse and talented group of speakers into North Central West Virginia. The 2011-2012 Celebration of Ideas Lecture Series seeks to provide a variety of perspectives as they pertain to national and global issues.”

This year’s speakers include Lee Maynard, Fairmont State alumnus Morris Morrison, Byron Pitts, Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, Michael Belmear, Liz Murray and Geraldine Brooks.

Admission is free and open to the public for all of the events in the lecture series. Tickets are not required. For more information, call the Student Affairs Office at (304) 367-4215.

Sign Language Interpreting and other accommodations for those with disabilities are available by request. Please contact Andrea Pammer, at least two weeks prior to each event in the Lecture Series, by phone at (304) 367-4686 or e-mail at Andrea.Pammer@fairmontstate.edu or Andrea.Pammer@pierpont.edu.

Liz Murray’s life is a triumph over adversity and a stunning example of the importance of dreaming big. Murray’s life as the child of cocaine-addicted parents in the Bronx was bitterly grim. There was never food in the house, everything was filthy, drugs were everywhere and the welfare checks were spent before they arrived.

By age 15, Murray’s mom had died and she was homeless—living on the streets, riding the subway all night and eating from dumpsters. Amidst this pain, Murray always imagined her life could be much better than it was.

“I started to grasp the value of the lessons learned while living on the streets. I knew, after overcoming those daily obstacles that next to nothing could hold me down,” she said.

Determined to take charge of her life, Murray finished high school in just two years while camping out in New York City parks and subway stations.

Murray’s story is exhilarating and her delivery innocently honest, as she takes audiences on a very personal journey where she achieves the improbable. Lifetime Television produced a movie about Murray’s life story entitled “From Homeless to Harvard,” which premiered in April 2003.

The three-time Emmy-nominated film will be shown on campus twice in March. The first showing will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 5, and the second will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 19; both will take place in Multi-media Room A of the Ruth Ann Musick Library.

Murray is the recipient of Oprah Winfrey’s first ever Chutzpah Award. Her memoir, “Breaking Night,” was released in September 2010 and within a week landed on The New York Times Best-seller List. Murray received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Harvard University in June 2009.