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Diversity, social issues at heart of discussions

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Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus will begin a diverse speaker series this month that school officials say is designed to expose students to world-class leaders on social issues.

Dubbed the Excellence in Leadership Initiative Speaker Series, the program aims to address twin goals of increasing diversity initiatives on campus and inspiring students to give back to communities in creative ways throughout their lives.

Speakers include:

Molly Barker, founder of Girls on the Run International, which aims to boost the self-image of girls in Grades 3 to 8.

Parvez Sharma, an Indian-born filmmaker and gay Muslim who has campaigned for acceptance of gay and lesbian Muslims in Islamic countries.

Ugandan refugee Derreck Kayongo, who fled civil war in his homeland at age 10 and, as an adult, created the Global Soap Project, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that promotes health in under-

developed parts of the world.

Sandra Miles, director of student affairs at IUPUC, said the leadership series for the 2013-14 school year is oriented more toward social issues than similar programs presented at the IUPUC campus in the past.

“This really is the first time we’re bringing in national and international speakers,” said Miles, who is starting her third year as head of student affairs.

The speaker series also ties in with a broader program that awards students certificates in leadership if they become involved in community service projects and maintain at least a 2.5 grade-point average.

Miles said this year’s speaker series attempts to match similar programs at larger universities that bring in big names from the corporate, political and nonprofit worlds to address students.

For instance, Barker will speak at IUPUC at 11 a.m. Sept. 30 and then head to the Indiana University campus in Bloomington for an appearance that evening.

“Part of our goal with the series is to show successful philanthropists doing great things,” Miles said.

Attendance at the events will help IUPUC students qualify for a special leadership certificate, which also is designed to increase their involvement in student organizations and various service-oriented programs.

To successfully complete the leadership program, students must attend five guest lectures or leadership workshops, complete at least three credit hours focused on leadership, partner with a faculty member for leadership mentoring and meet other requirements involving community service, internships or on-campus projects.

The series will run late September through mid-February.

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