Southeast Missouri State University is proud to present the University Speakers Series featuring men and women from the forefront of their respected fields. These leaders in political and social issues will offer their compelling stories to the campus community at Southeast, inspiring visionary ideas for tomorrow's leaders.

University tickets are free (unless otherwise noted) with Redhawks ID in the University Center-Center for Student Involvement (UC 204) and the Show Me Center Box Office. General public tickets are $10 (unless otherwise noted) and available at and the Show Me Center Box Office.

List of 2016-2017 Speakers

Photo of O'Leary

John O'Leary

New Student Welcome Convocation

Friday, August 19, 2016
11 a.m., Show Me Center

A curious 9-year-old boy, John O'Leary was playing with fire and gasoline, which created a massive explosion in his home that burned him on 100 percent of his body. He was given a 1 percent chance to live.

His story of survival was first showcased in his parents' book, "Overwhelming Odds." Originally printing 200 copies for friends and family, his parents have sold more than 60,000 copies, most in back-of-room sales at O'Leary's speaking events. It was this book that invited O'Leary to embrace his miraculous recovery and share it with the world.

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Byron Pitts

An Evening with Byron Pitts

Monday, September 12, 2016
7:30 p.m., Academic Hall Auditorium

Known for his thought-provoking coverage and exceptional storytelling, Byron Pitts is a multiple Emmy-winning journalist and co-anchor of ABC's "Nightline." In 2013, Pitts became an anchor and the Chief National Correspondent at ABC. Prior to working for ABC, Pitts was the chief national correspondent for CBS' "Evening News With Katie Couric." He was CBS' lead correspondent at Ground Zero following the September 11 attacks and won an Emmy for his coverage.

Free and open to the public

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Mandalit Del Barco

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Monday, October 10, 2016
6 p.m., University Center Ballroom

Mandalit del Barco, arts correspondent based at NPR West, reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance, and other topics. She has also covered street gangs, Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts, and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Her news reports, feature stories, and photos can be found on "All Things Considered," "Morning Edition," "Weekend Edition," "Alt. Latino," and

Free and open to the public

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Van Jones and Kayleigh McEnany

Election 2016 - Political Contributor's Point/Counterpoint Debate

Monday, October 17, 2016
7:30 p.m., Show Me Center

A civil rights leader, former Obama White House advisor, and CNN political correspondent, Van Jones is the founder and president of Dream Corps, an incubator, platform, and home for world-changing initiatives that empower the most vulnerable in our society. The Dream Corps programs work to close prison doors and open doors of opportunity.

Kayleigh McEnany graduated from Harvard Law School with a Juris Doctor and Georgetown University School of Foreign Service with a BSFS in International Politics. She studied politics and international relations at Oxford University, St. Edmund Hall.

Tickets for this event will go on sale on Monday, Aug 22 at

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Photo of Kelly

Captain Scott Kelly

The Sky is Not the Limit

Wednesday, November 30, 2016
7:30 p.m., Show Me Center

With a record-breaking year in space, NASA astronaut Captain Scott Kelly laid the groundwork for the future of space exploration. From the cover of Time magazine to interviews on "TODAY" and features in Forbes and CNN, as well as a Twitter following that is approaching a million, the world remains in awe. His life lessons and personal stories reveal unique, valuable advice on pushing one's limits and insight on the leadership and teamwork required in demanding conditions. Kelly reflects on the choices and life events that paved his path, bringing audiences to the edge of their seats as he delivers a truly one-of-a-kind experience.

Tickets for this event will go on sale on Monday, Aug 22 at

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Mary Frances Berry

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Dinner

Wednesday, January 18, 2017
6 p.m., Show Me Center

For more than four decades, Mary Frances Berry has been one of the most respected voices in our nation's civil rights, gender equality, and social justice movements. Serving as chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Berry led the charge for equal rights and liberties for all Americans over the course of four presidential administrations. A trailblazer for women and African-Americans alike, she became the first woman to head a major research university, serving at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Tickets for this event will go on sale on Monday, Nov. 28.

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Shawn Johnson

An Evening with Shawn Johnson

Monday, February 6, 2017
7:30 p.m., Show Me Center

Since she was a little girl, Shawn Johnson dreamed of competing for the United States in the Olympics. When she was named to the U.S. Olympics gymnastics team in 2008, she was already a two-time national champion, and a world all-around champion.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Johnson helped establish the United States as one of the most talented teams in the world, winning the
individual gold medal on the balance beam and three silver medals in the individual all-around, floor exercise, and team categories.

Tickets for this event will go on sale on Thursday, December 1 at