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Soledad O'Brien

Annual Unity Celebration

The annual Student Affairs Unity Celebration/Spring Peay Read
keynote speaker for 2013-14 was 

                                  Soledad O'Brien

Click here for photo gallery of event
Click here for news coverage of this event 

Soledad O'Brien is an award winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor, and producer. O'Brien was the originator of Black in America and Latino in America. In June 2013 she launched Starfish Media Group, a multiplatform media production and distribution company, dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories that take a challenging look at the often divisive issues of race, class, wealth, poverty and opportunity, through personal stories. Starfish Media Group continues to produce Black in America for CNN. O'Brien is a correspondent for HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, and a Special Correspondent for Al Jazeera America Tonight.

In 2011 O'Brien won an Emmy for "Crisis in Haiti Report" on Haitian orphanages, following the massive earthquake. In 2013, she won Emmy's for her coverage of the 2012 Presidential Election and her work on "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture." Her coverage of Hurricane Katrina earned her and CNN a George Foster Peabody award. She also received another Peabody award for her coverage of the BP Gulf coast Oil Spill. Her reporting on the Southeast Asia tsunami garnered CNN an Alfred I DuPont award.

O'Brien's critically acclaimed documentary series, Black in America and its follow-up Latino in America are among CNN's most successful domestic and international franchises. In 2013 Latino in America 2, the story of a Latina boxer who dreams of Olympic glory, won the celebrated Cine Award for documentaries. In 2013, O'Brien joined Harvard University as a Distinguished Fellow and was appointed to the Board of Directors of the foundation for The National Archives.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, O'Brien and her husband Brad created a foundation to help disadvantaged young women get to and through college. In 2013 they awarded scholarships to 25 deserving young women.
2014 event sponsored by Student Affairs Programs, Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center, Student Transitions, Diversity Task Force and Student Life and Engagement.  **Future Unity Celebration events will be coordinated by the office of Student Life and Engagement. 


COLLINS TUOHY a member of the Tuohy family depicted in the book and blockbuster movie  "The Blind Side" Collins Tuohy, the real life daughter of Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, played by Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw in the hit movie The Blind Side was the keynote speaker for the 2013 Student Affairs Unity Celebration event.

The Tuohy family’s life, as chronicled in The Blind Side, went on to become a record-breaking Hollywood blockbuster that earned more than $300 million at the box office and became the number-one opening weekend for a sports film in history.

Collins Tuohy shares a famously close bond with her adopted brother Michael Oher. As chronicled in The Blind Side, it began when she first met Michael in the hallways of Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, Tennessee. When Collins tried to pass Michael in the stairwell, she had to back up to the top; she could not fit past him. At 16 years old as a sophomore, he was about 6’6” and 320 pounds that fall of 2002—the biggest student anyone at Briarcrest had ever laid eyes on.

Collins grew close to Michael as she helped him adjust to both Briarcrest and his new life with the Tuohy family. When Collins became Briarcrest’s Homecoming Queen, Michael was her escort, and they also shared a common bond through their unique athletic pursuits: Collins won the Tennessee State Championship in the Pole Vault as Michael earned All-State honors in the discus and basketball championships.

Collins earned her Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Mississippi. An exceptional student and influential role model on campus, she was the President of the Student Alumni Council, President of Student Spirit Committee, an Officer for the Kappa Delta Sorority and an Ole Miss Varsity Cheerleader, supporting Michael Oher—also an Ole Miss student—from the sidelines. 

As she prepared to accompany Michael to New York, where he was one of nine prospects invited to draft headquarters for the NFL, Collins sounded like a typical protective sister. “I’m a bit nervous,” she said. “I really don’t want him trucking off to some faraway place.” After Michael became a first-round NFL draft pick for the Ravens, Collins continued to support him with frequent visits to Baltimore, including supporting him in last week's Super Bowl where he and fellowRavens teammates finished with a dramatic win!

Collins is currently on the Board of the The Making it Happen Foundation, dedicated to changing children’s lives through hope, love, and opportunity.  At the podium, Collins shared her journey with Michael from fellow student to close friend, confidant, and ultimately, adoptive sister.  She also contributed to the New York Times best-seller In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving. The book was the spring common reading for the APSU 1000 classes.

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The Student Affairs Unity Celebration provides an opportunity for APSU students, faculty and staff to come together and celebrate our campus community, and to hear about social issues along with members of the greater Clarksville community.  This event has been coordinated by the director of Student Affairs Programs and Services bryantt@apsu.edu.

PAST UNITY CELEBRATION SPEAKERS:

Collins Tuohy  (2013)
The real life daughter of Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, as portayed by Sandra Bullock and Tim McGaw in the hit movie The Blind Side, the story of Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens Michael Oher. (Oher is now a member of the Tennessee Titans.)

Byron Pitts  (2012)
Emmy Award Winning Journalist, National Correspondent and individual who overcame great odds to his success.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  (2011)
Environmental Lawyer and Activist; son of former U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, New York, and nephew of President John F. Kennedy.

Judy Shepard (2010)  
Activist, author and mother of murdered University of Wyoming student Matthew "Matt" Shepard.

Dr. Walter Kimbrough  (2009)
President of Philander-Smith College, author, and known as the "hip-hop" president. Dr. Kimbrough was among the youngest university president's in the country.

Nikki Giovanni  (2008)
Acclaimed p
oet, author, Virginia Tech professor and activist.

Manning Marable
National Leader in the fields of African American and Ethnic Studies.

Benjamin Chavis
Civil Rights activist.

Alex Haley
Acclaimed author.

Giancarlo Esposito
Professional actor and activist.

Holly Thompson
WSMV news anchor.