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ULS hosts actor, author for MLK week


Known for his writing as a self-help author and his acting on shows such as “CSI: NY” and “Covert Affairs,” Hill Harper will come to campus today to share his thoughts on how students can manifest their destiny.

As part of the University Lecture Series (ULS) hosted by the Center for Student Involvement, Harper will speak in the Marshall Student Center (MSC) Ballroom at
8 p.m. and share advice from his personal experiences, as well as his book “Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny.”

As an author and philanthropist, Harper’s book inspired his non-profit organization for disadvantaged youth in the Southern California area, the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation (MYD). Akello Stone, executive director of MYD, said both Harper’s book and the foundation are a testament to Harper’s sincerity in what he shares in his book and lectures.

“When you hear of philanthropy, someone could be writing a check,” Stone said. “There’s also giving back in a meaningful way that is more personal. (Harper) is not just throwing resources, but personally committed. When you see him engage with young people, there is liveliness in his eyes. When I saw that, and I knew he was really committed, I became committed.”

After meeting Harper and becoming involved with the foundation, Stone began mentoring students between eighth and ninth grade and has been doing so for six years.

“I came on board because I really believe in his passion for social consciousness and working with youth,” Stone said. “He is a very charismatic person; his oratory style is very electric and very exciting.”

In his years working at MYD, Stone said he has seen Harper continually help the youth in the program, not just by sponsoring the program, by making regular visits to the children to show he “sincerely cares about their welfare.” One of Harper’s favorite parts of the program, Stone said, is a ropes course that the children do every summer.

“When we do the ropes course, he’s not just standing there — he’s up on the course helping the students climb along,” Stone said. “He really does walk the walk.”

In addition to his volunteer work and writing, Harper graduated magna cum laude from Brown University and cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was classmates with President Barack Obama, before moving to Los Angeles to begin an acting career. Since then, Harper has won an NAACP Image Award for his acting.

Though his experience has predominantly been working with a younger audience, ULS Director Woodra Keene said the Ivy League graduate would be able to connect with the university students.

“He’ll talk about education as a stepping stone for success, and what college is about, so this something we feel is relatable to college students,” Keene said.

Keene also said Harper’s lecture includes a book signing and would also tie into the MLK Week events. Additionally, the ULS Facebook page advertised a post-lecture meeting with Harper for the first 30 people that come to the ULS office on the second floor of the MSC, starting at 9:30 a.m. today.

The other ULS speakers for the semester include author Nicholas Sparks on Feb. 13 and a final speaker, who has not yet been announced, that will speak during USF Week between April 7 and April 11.