Greg Mortenson, an acclaimed education advocate who has worked tirelessly to advance global women's literacy and social change, will be the keynote speaker at Walden University's 45th commencement on Saturday, Jan. 22, at 1:30 p.m. in Miami's James L. Knight Center.
Best known for his 2007 New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time, Mortenson is the co-founder and executive director of Central Asia Institute, a nonprofit organization working to promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortenson is also the author of the bestselling Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan; Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea; and the Young Readers Edition of Three Cups of Tea.
"Greg Mortenson's global efforts to champion education, coupled with his extraordinary personal story, make him an extremely compelling leader," said Jonathan A. Kaplan, president of Walden University. "His passionate message of peace and education reflects Walden's commitment to social change and will resonate with our graduates, families and friends."
An honored U.S. Army veteran and graduate of the University of South Dakota, Mortenson has made it his life's mission to advocate for women's literacy and education. In 1993, Mortenson promised to help a group of children in a remote Pakistan village; that promise inspired him to found Pennies for Peace, an award-winning international service-learning program through which he was able to build his first school—one penny at a time.
Mortenson has established or supported more than 165 schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, helping provide education to more than 68,000 children—including 58,000 girls—where few education opportunities previously existed. Mortenson has also survived a Taliban kidnapping, escaped a firefight with feuding Afghan warlords, overcome two fatwas and faced threats for helping Muslim children with education—all while continuing his commitment to social change and literacy.
Mortenson received Pakistan's highest civil award in 2009, the Sitara-e-Pakistan ("Star of Pakistan"), and U.S. Congressional bipartisan nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 and 2010.
The 2011 commencement ceremony and Greg Mortenson's address can be viewed live via webcast at www.WaldenU.edu.