By Melina Orantes
Cal Poly Pomona welcomed Sheryl WuDunn on Thursday to be part of the Kellogg Distinguished Public Lecture Series. Associated Students, Inc. opened the doors of the Ursa Major Suite,for students, faculty and other guests.
The lecture series’ goal is to bring distinguished speakers to campus to inspire, inform and motivate listeners. The series has hosted many speakers in the past, from prestigious authors to educators.
WuDunn is the first Asian-American reporter to win a Pulitzer Prize, a business executive and is the author of four best-selling books.
WuDunn does not work alone, and she has had a supporter and partner throughout all her ventures: Nicholas Kristof, her husband, who is also an author and journalist and has been her collaborator on their last four books.
Together, they have made a reputation by being the voice for the voiceless. WuDunn and her husband are avid activists for women’s rights.
WuDunn was invited to CPP to give a lecture about her two books: “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” and “A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity.”
“Half the Sky” covered topics on the struggles of women, while “A Path Appears” speaks of the ways we can help people around the world and locally.
WuDunn started her presentation by transitioning from a personal, nice family photo taken in Beijing to a young girl from a remote part of China. The young girl struggled with poverty in her village and did not have enough money to finish school.
As the story unfolded, WuDunn spoke of the success she and her husband found when they shared the girl’s story to readers of The New York Times. WuDunn was able to raise enough funding to send the Chinese girl to school and all the girls in her village received scholarships as well.
The young girl from China went on to become an accountant and was able to supply her family with a new house that had running water and electricity. Her story exemplified how opportunity for one person can lead to the advancement of an entire village.
The rest of the lecture revealed more success stories and how people’s lives were changed when they gained access to basic resources.
WuDunn and Kristof’s storytelling has the goal of raising awareness about the issues and to providing solutions.
“We have so many good solutions, much more than we ever did in the past. There’s never been a time in history that we’ve had as good solutions as we have now,” said WuDunn.
“It’s important to learn about these issues, I’ve only touched the surface but there are many other areas where you can learn so much more about topics that might be more interesting to the kind of area you got a skill or interest in,” said WuDunn.
WuDunn and Kristof used their expertise to document a three-part series that aired on PBS. The series followed the topics they covered in their latest book “A Path Appears.” They have covered everything from sex trafficking to the cruelty of poverty in both third world countries and in the U.S.
The documentary invited celebrity guests such as Blake Lively, Gabrielle Union and Jennifer Garner on their journey.
WuDunn ended her lecture by encouraging students, faculty and other guests to play an active role in helping to change lives, even if it is just a couple.
“That’s really what life’s about; it’s making contributions and feeling that you’re valued,” said WuDunn.
She was able to emotionally touch students, such as Darlene Jimenez, a third-year business student.
“I think a lot of the things she was talking about were really inspiring. Helping women, ” equality and the stories were really cool to listen to,” said Jimenez.
Giuliano Djen / The Poly Post
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