Tag Archives: leadership

Valarie Kaur’s Baccalaureate Address to the Class of 2013

by Valarie Kaur, ’03

On June 15th, 2013, alumna Valarie Kaur, gave the Baccalaureate Address to the Stanford Class of 2013. Kaur is an award-winning filmmaker, civil rights advocate and interfaith organizer, and this is what she had to say:

President Hennessy, Dean McLennan, professors and staff, family and friends, and the Class of 2013, it is a profound gift for me to return to Stanford to address you. Ten years ago, when I stood in this spot to deliver the student address, I believed what they always tell us on graduation day – that your Stanford education empowers to change the world, that we are the ones we have been waiting for. But what they don’t tell us in college is just how dangerous the journey might be and what that courage might cost.

So I could tell you the story of how I found my passion in a classroom in the Main Quad right over there, or how I snuck a raft onto Lake Lag in the middle of the night, or how I survived SLE [Stanford’s Structured Liberal Education program].

But the story I must tell you today begins in crisis. Continue reading

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Why You Should Take CSRE 26SI

by Holly Fetter, ’13

One of the most distinctive factors that sets Stanford apart from other universities is its diversity — diversity of perspectives, experiences, identities, origins, beliefs. It’s a word that’s used so often that it almost lacks meaning, like “multicultural” or “entrepreneurial.” Even the Dictionary.com definition is wack — “Diversity: the state of being diverse.” Roughly half of Stanford students self-identify as people of color. Unlike certain East Coast institutions of higher learning, this campus has been open to all genders since its founding. 15% of Stanford students are the first in their families to attend college, and 75% students receive some form of financial aid. Yes, our student population represents a variety of different identities. We coexist in residence halls, student groups, frat parties. We’re a very “multicultural” mix.

But are we really equipped to handle our differences? What do we do when it gets messy? How do we deal when we’re not sure if our words are accidentally transphobic, or that our actions make students from different class backgrounds feel uncomfortable? It’s super important that we each go beyond being best friends or “colorblind” classmates, and make the effort to educate ourselves on how to be active allies in the face of prejudices, both subtle and overt. An “ally” is someone who supports members of community/ies to which they do not personally belong, through interrupting injustice at a personal and/or institutional level. Learning how to be an ally can help us through those awkward encounters with -isms and -phobias that might otherwise leave us feeling powerless and uncomfortable. Continue reading

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Harry Potter: Social Justice Theory Absorbed by a Generation

by Sarah Quartey, ’14    

“It is important to fight, and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then can evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated.”
(Dumbledore, Half-Blood Prince 644-45) 

When and how did a generation of students eagerly absorbing the Harry Potter phenomenon become a force to be reckoned with?  The answer lies in in social justice education leadership theory.  In short, Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and others like him, cultivated an independent and powerful youth community.  As a father figure, leader, and educator for young Harry Potter, Dumbledore became the mentor of an entire youth movement in J.K. Rowling’s universe.  But more than that, Dumbledore served as a role model for millions of children in the real world, who make up the Millennials (Palfrey 3), the generation born between the very late 1980s through 2005, during the rapid-pace change of the internet and digital culture.  Dumbledore’s influence on the Millennial generation is becoming clear as youth movements like Gay-Straight Alliances storm plazas and demand justice.  Dumbledore is an exemplar of social justice leadership by demonstrating extraordinary feats in each of the four tenets of the theory; his example should be followed in training educators and leaders of the future.  Continue reading

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