Beyond the Dream Speaker Series highlights multicultural experiences at BGSU and beyond

With the start of February, Bowling Green State University’s “Beyond the Dream Spring 2021 Speaker Series" focuses on Black History Month.

The series, sponsored by the Division of Diversity and BelongingDivision of Student Affairs, BGSU Firelands and University Libraries, highlights different cultures across Bowling Green's campuses through multiple academic conferences, musicians and guest speakers. The three keynote speakers, Mirna Valerio, Justin Shaifer and Dr. Talithia Williams, bring unique perspectives to this series.

“In a time where everyone had to quickly pivot to a virtual world, several of the speakers focus on authenticity, tenacity, telling your story and constantly reinventing perceptions and norms even as we consider what ‘normal’ means,” said Jennifer McCary, BGSU’s chief diversity and belonging officer.

"These are all topics directly related to our strategic goals and our aim of continuing to make BGSU a more welcoming and inclusive campus community, open to dialogue about such important topics.” 

All of the events will be held virtually. The Center for Women and Gender Equity presents the first series of dialogues starting on Saturday, Feb. 6, with Mirna Valerio. She is a long-distance runner, speaker and author of the recent memoir “A Beautiful Work in Progress,” whose story has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Runner’s World, CNN and other news outlets.

Her first of three BGSU sessions is titled, “Introduction to Identity, Social Justice and Anti-Racism,” where she will lead participants in recognizing and acknowledging their own thoughts, actions and attitudes to make small changes in their lives toward ending racism. This session is open to all BGSU faculty, staff and students, as well as the community at large.

On Feb. 9 and 10, Valerio will speak directly to TRIO and graduate students during “Passion Forward” breakout sessions to help them determine a personal brand. In these workshops, Valerio will use her own personal career trajectory as a framework for discovery for students to name and identify their own brand.

Valerio then will host another session at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 titled “Your Body is a Beautiful Work in Progress: Our Incredible, Beautiful Bodies,” which is open to the community. In this interactive workshop, Valerio will look deeply into how and why we perceive our bodies in a certain way, opening up a conversation on how we could learn to love and appreciate them even more. Learn more about BGSU's series of dialogues with Mirna Valerio at

On Feb. 16, Dr. Talithia Williams will host a student session at noon and a community talk at 6 p.m. Williams is a big data expert, a math professor at Harvey Mudd College and a host of the PBS series “NOVA Wonders.” She is an inspiring author and a passionate STEM/STEAM advocate working to get people of all ages and backgrounds excited about education. A popular TED speaker, Williams is known for demystifying data, statistics, probabilities and the mathematical process in amusing and insightful ways.

The final speaker in the Beyond the Dream series is Justin Shaifer, who will host an April 6 student session at noon and 1 p.m. He will then host a session that is open to the public at 6 p.m. Shaifer is a LinkedIn Top Voice in Technology and popular science communicator. He is the founder and executive director of Fascinate, Inc., a nonprofit established to excite underrepresented students about STEM careers. He is a science education Ph.D. student at Teachers College of Columbia University and host of WGBH’s “Escape Lab,” as well as a prominent presence on social media.

The "Beyond the Dream 2021 Spring Speaker Series" extends through the month of April to celebrate the diverse cultures on campus with various events taking place virtually. Details can be found on the BGSU calendar or by visiting

Media Contact | Michael Bratton | | 419-372-6349

Updated: 08/10/2023 04:54PM