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What's Up with the January Series

A summary of the upcoming January Series at Calvin College.
Gospel Performance Speaker from last year's January Series

Gospel Performance Speaker from last year's January Series /Matthew Schanck

The founder of ESPN, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, a former senator, a bestselling author, an accomplished astronomer and Calvin College’s president all have one thing in common: each will speak at this year’s Calvin’s January Series.

            The January Series is a series of talks hosted by Calvin College that brings in a speaker for each day the school is open in January.

Kristi Potter, director of the January Series, said the series is held for several reasons.

“The idea of holding the January Series is to keep everyone on campus,” Potter said, “and for a month to intensify the deep thinking that goes on in the classrooms and to extend it out into the community.”

January Series sessions are held at 12:30 p.m. in the Covent Fine Arts Center Auditorium, when most students’ have free time in their schedules to attend the January Series.

Some key speakers in 2014 are Isabel Wilkerson, Olympia Snowe, Bob Goff, Michael LeRoy, Jennifer Wiseman and Bill Rasmussen

Isabel Wilkerson is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and bestselling author. She will speak on the 70-year period of migration by African Americans from the South to the North, Potter said, and how these untold stories impacted Americans.

            Every speaker was chosen in order to teach people something. Potter said she wants people to gain knowledge of American history by listening to Wilkerson.

“I hope people will understand the hidden part of American history and the importance of it in our development and how African Americans helped shape it.” Potter said.

Another key speaker is Olympia Snowe, who served for 40 years in the legislative government, most recently as a U.S. Senator, before quitting. She quit to fix the bipartisan system from the outside by informing people how to change the government and this is why Snowe was chosen to speak.

            “She will teach us that we do matter and can make a difference and how we can affect our representatives and fix the government,” Potter said.

            Bob Goff, the New York Times bestselling author of Love Does, will speak on living out faith simply and loving others.

            “We chose him with students in mind,” Potter said smiling. “His book is well-loved by students.”

            Potter hopes Goff will inspire people to the “realization that when you put faith in action and just love you can do great things.” Potter said.

            President LeRoy will be the faculty representative in the January Series this year. He will speak on how to approach higher education and how Calvin is going to do education, Potter said, but he will most likely not address how Calvin will specifically change over the upcoming years. Potter said she hopes people will leave the presentation with a better understanding of higher education.

            Jennifer Wiseman is an MIT and Harvard University graduate who works in the field of astronomy. She will speak on how studying the stars and galaxies have strengthened her faith. Potter spoke glowingly of a Wiseman presentation she attended.

“She has great presentations and shows amazing images of the stars,” Potter said.

            One major speaker is ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen. He changed how people view television, said Potter, and he caused a major cultural shift in terms of entertainment. Potter said she wants people to learn to capture their visions and dream big like he did, and to understand that if they have entrepreneurial vision, they can succeed.

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