Dr. Tererai Trent Keynote Speaker at National University's Northern California Commencement

April 8, 2015

Sacramento Commencement April 12 in Sacramento recognizes University's Northern California graduates

 San Diego, Calif. – April 7, 2015 – Dr. Tererai Trent, whose odyssey from a village in Zimbabwe to renowned international scholar has made her among the most recognized figures for equal education and women’s empowerment, will be the keynote speaker at the April 12 Northern California Commencement ceremony for National University, the second-largest, private nonprofit university in California.

Among her many achievements, Dr. Trent is founder of the Tererai Trent International Foundation, which ensures access to quality education for children around the world and helps empower rural communities. She has been distinguished as Oprah Winfrey’s “All-Time Favorite Guest,” and her story is featured in a New York Times bestseller.

Dr. Trent’s success story provides an inspiring message to students everywhere. She succeeded despite growing up poor in northern Zimbabwe and being denied an education because she was a girl. As a child, she taught herself to read and write from her brother’s school books and that same determination guided her pursuit of a higher education.

“Dr. Trent’s story of perseverance despite overwhelming obstacles is an inspiration to us all, and we are honored to have her join us as our keynote speaker for this year’s commencement,” said National University President, Dr. Michael R. Cunningham. “She is a shining example for our graduates and their families, and her life story reflects the capacity we each have to shape our destiny and achieve our dreams.”

As a young mother without a high school diploma who was married off by her family at a young age, Dr. Trent met a woman who would profoundly impact her life: Jo Luck, president and CEO of the poverty-fighting nonprofit organization Heifer International. She told Dr. Trent, “If you believe in your dreams, they are achievable.”

Inspired by Jo Luck and with her mother’s encouragement, Dr. Trent wrote down her dreams of going to America to secure a higher education, sealed them in a tin can, and buried them under a rock.

Those dreams became the blueprint of her life. Dr. Trent moved to Oklahoma in 1998 and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in agricultural education three years later. She also earned a Master’s Degree in Plant Pathology from Oklahoma State University, a Master’s Degree in Public Health from UC Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Evaluation from Western Michigan University.

After she earned her degrees, she returned to Zimbabwe, unearthed her tin can, and checked off each goal she had achieved, one by one. Dr. Trent currently teaches as an adjunct professor at Drexel University’s School of Public Health; has worked for numerous humanitarian organizations; and is a fellow at the Center of AIDS Prevention Studies at UC San Francisco, with a special focus on women and girls.

More than 500 graduates will attend the University’s Northern California ceremony. The ceremony recognizes a diverse student body in Northern California, which includes students completing their degree programs at campuses in Rancho Cordova near Sacramento, San Jose, Fresno, Redding, as well as online.

About National University
Founded in 1971, National University is the second-largest private, nonprofit institution of higher education in California. With 30,000 students and more than 140,000 alumni, National University is the flagship institution of the National University System. National University is dedicated to making lifelong learning opportunities accessible, challenging, and relevant to a diverse population of students. Five schools and one college – the College of Letters and Sciences; the School of Business and Management; the School of Education; the School of Engineering and Computing; the School of Health and Human Services; and the School of Professional Studies – offer more than 100 graduate and undergraduate degrees and 23 teacher credentials. Programs are offered at locations throughout California and across the nation, and are also available online. National University is headquartered in La Jolla, California.

Media contact:
Anna Cearley
Director of Public Relations