In the following Q & A, Participant talked with 2018 Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient Nadia Murad about visiting Pitzer and delivering this year’s Commencement address.
Q. You had a chance to meet some of our students and other community members during a book-signing as well as during Commencement. How was your experience with our community? Was there anything memorable about your visit?
A. Spending time with the Pitzer community was a wonderful experience. Meeting so many young people at the book-signing and during Commencement with great and big intentions for the future fills me with hope. I come from a big family, so for me the most memorable moment was having opportunities for chatting with the graduates’ parents and hearing how proud they were of them, particularly those who were the first in their family to go to college.
Q. You never planned to become an activist until after ISIS attacked your village. Pitzer College has a long tradition of teaching students to become activists. Do you think there are advantages to showing students how to develop their voices as advocates?
A. Yes, I became an activist through atrocity. Although it gave me a passion for justice and advocacy, it is a route that I would not wish on anybody, which is something I shared during my keynote address. I think that having a school like Pitzer that is dedicated to advocacy, where faculty help students to shape their craft and develop their voices, can only be a good thing for the world.
Q. You delivered a very moving message to the Class of 2023 about creating community, encouraging students to reach out beyond their familiar lives and “find your tribe.” Why is that important? How does this effort make one’s education stronger and better?
A. I think that when someone moves out beyond their own immediate world, it gives them a chance to experience huge enrichment. As Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has said, we need more than just one story to understand the world. When you do that and experience more stories, you can find connections, solidarity, and friendship with people who share your passion, if not your life’s experience. When you get to that point there is so much you can learn from each other.