Seen and Heard (Sometimes Virtually) on Campus

Images superimposed over laptop screen
Valerie Jarrett, former senior advisor to President Barack Obama, left; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, top right; Hallie Jackson, chief White House correspondent for NBC News and “MSNBC Live” host, bottom right.

In October 2019, Valerie Jarrett, one of President Barack Obama’s closest mentors, took part in a conversation hosted by the National Society for Leadership and Success and the Center for Leadership and Engagement, where she shared her views on fighting for gender equality and civil rights, and advocating for women in business and politics: “Recognize there are going to be some bumps along the way, and then surround yourself with people who wish you well.”

As the Allen B. DuMont Broadcaster of the Year, Hallie Jackson, chief White House correspondent for NBC News and “MSNBC Live” host, shared advice with media majors when she sat down with Carpe Diem in November 2019: “Just learn how to ask questions. Be smart and be hungry. That’s all you need.”

In November 2019, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri (Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake) met with a small gathering of students and then later spoke at a public event about her new collection she edited, The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories. In a conversation moderated by Teresa Fiore, Inserra Chair of the Italian program, Lahiri told students, “Nothing feels impenetrable. These stories are like all literature. It’s a way of forming dialogue, a community across time, language, place.”

Award-winning Northern Irish poet Colette Bryce delivered her first remote poetry reading to Montclair State University students, faculty and staff in March 2020. “This is an incredibly high-tech experience for me,” she said, before she read new and recent poems directly from the living room of her home in Newcastle, England.

In April 2020, Professor Margaret Kelleher of University College Dublin also lectured remotely about her book The Maamtrasna Murders: Language, Life and Death in Nineteenth Century Ireland. The book tells the story of an Irish-speaking man sentenced to death and executed in 1882 for a crime he did not commit, after a trial conducted entirely in the English language. Both events were sponsored by the Marie Frazee-Baldassarre Professorship.