Human rights activist and repeat Oprah guest Tererai Trent will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, in Memorial Chapel at Sweet Briar College. Her lecture is presented in conjunction with the College’s 2013 Common Reading selection, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” which features Trent’s story. The event is free and open to the public.
According to the book’s website, reporters Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn Kristof “help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential. They make clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part.” During their research, Kristof and WuDunn traveled through Africa and Asia and talked to different women about their economic and domestic struggles.
One of the women they interviewed was Trent, who was born and raised in Zimbabwe. Not allowed to attend school, but teaching herself to read and write, Trent was married at the age of 11 and suffered severe abuse from her husband. In 1992, she met Jo Luck, president of the Arkansas-based organization Heifer International. Luck encouraged her to follow her dream of receiving a college education. Six years later, Trent was admitted to Oklahoma State University.
After moving to the U.S. in 1998, Trent earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees while raising five children and juggling three jobs. She has since become a prominent advocate for women’s education, working as a senior consultant for Heifer International and other humanitarian organizations, and sharing her life story with audiences around the world. Among other themes, Trent’s lectures focus on education, poverty and the “four P’s of women in leadership: power, passion, purpose and procreation.”
Trent was a guest on “Oprah” in 2009 and 2011, and her story was featured in an excerpt in The New York Times Magazine. In 2011, after naming Trent her “all-time favorite guest,” Oprah Winfrey donated $1.5 million to Trent’s foundation Tinogona to build a girls’ school in her Zimbabwean village. Her autobiography, “The Girl Who Buried Her Dreams in a Can,” is slated for a fall 2014 release.
Trent’s lecture will be followed by a reception at 8 p.m. in Pannell Gallery.