Last Tuesday Mississippi State University held its first Freshman Student Convocation. In addition to the students being formally accepted by the faculty, the highlight of the event was the keynote address given by Sarah Thebarge.
Thebarge is the author of The Invisible Girls: A Memoir which is the book selected as this year’s Maroon Edition. Her talk was interesting with the first portion being a synopsis of the book. I got the feeling someone forgot to tell her that the students were supposed to have already read the book, but perhaps she realized that likely many of them had not read the book yet. The later part of her talk was on how one person could change the world and she encouraged our students to do their best to do just that.
The book itself is very good and is a very easy read. It took only a few hours to read it, mainly on parts of airplane trips. In addition to describing how she came to meet the girls from Somalia and the things she did to help them, it also chronicles her diagnosis and treatment for cancer. It is a great story of survival, a strong spirit that kept her coming back despite her many setbacks, and also her ongoing faith struggle.
I’m not sure how many students was actually able to reach, several of them did appear more interested in their phones and leaving as soon as they could, but that doesn’t really matter. Even though she likely didn’t reach everyone, if she only reached one or two students who will change the world, then it was a worth the investment of the time and money. I also noticed the faculty seemed interested in her words as well. My only regret about the event is that we did not have community involvement, especially high school students.
My favorite quote from her talk was when she said that we often wonder what do you get the girl who has everything but the real question is what do you get the girl who has absolutely nothing? Her answer: An education. For that reason, the proceeds from the sale of this book are going into an account to cover the costs of education for the five Somali girls she meet.