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Before joining NPR in 2002, Michele Norris spent almost ten years as a reporter for ABC News
September 16, 2015

Investiture Speaker’s Advice to Class of 2019: ‘Invest in Yourself’

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  • Boston
NPR Host Michele Norris Speaks at New Student Investiture Ceremony

Journalist and novelist Michele Norris says as a communicator, she’s learned the most important thing she can do is listen. During Wednesday’s fourth annual New Student Investiture Ceremony, she encouraged the Class of 2019 to listen, get to know one another, and invest in themselves.

“Invest in yourselves by allowing yourselves to have fun. Invest in yourselves by having space for companionship. Invest in yourselves by being curious. Curiosity is something special,” Norris said.

Norris, who is one of the hosts of NPR’s All Things Considered, set out to write a book looking at how people think about race. She found a story in her own family, and learned for the first time that her father, a war veteran, was shot while attending a night class about the U.S. Constitution. Norris says because of the Boswell Amendment, it used to be that in order to vote in Alabama, blacks had to demonstrate their constitutional knowledge. Knowledge of this never-before-heard story was what led her to write the 2010 book The Grace of Silence.

“There is grace in silence, but there is definitely power in understanding,” Norris said.

Norris asks people to send her their own six word stories about race via traditional postcards and social media. The ongoing results of the Race Card Project are posted here.

She shared some of the submissions: “My son’s not half. He’s double. Lady, I don’t want your purse. Total non-issue when the aliens arrive.” And her favorite, “Underneath, we all taste like chicken.” Norris says these little microstories help us to understand each other.

“I encourage you to think about the stories that will give you perspectives in life. Your history is part of your wealth. Find those stories because that is part of the university of learning,” Norris said.

Before leading the Class of 2019 in the pinning ceremony, Chancellor J. Keith Motley echoed Norris’s comments about the students investing in themselves.

“This is just the beginning,” he said. “Take every day that you have here and enjoy the opportunity to learn, enjoy the opportunity to be with each other. Do the best you.”

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