Guilford releases the lineup for the 2018-2019 Bryan Series event

Guilford College Logo

The 2018-19 Bryan Series will feature a number of well-known politicians, athletes and doctors, beginning with a two-person lecture from Karl Rove and David Axelrod, former high-level advisors from both sides of the political aisle.

Rove was the senior advisor and deputy chief of staff for former President George W. Bush, while Axelrod was chief strategist and senior advisor to former President Barack Obama.

“They bring more than keen insiders’ perspectives,” states Guilford’s website. “They share the ability to spar respectfully and with an open mind to sound arguments.”

The session is not the first of its kind. The Bryan Series has hosted several other two-person engagements, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley in the spring of 2013.

The second Bryan Series speaker will be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a former professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. Abdul-Jabbar was a record six-time NBA Most Valuable Player during his 20-year career. He is also a best-selling author and activist.

40 years ago, Abdul-Jabbar converted to Islam and has often struggled with the public response to this decision.

“Some fans took it very personally, as if I had firebombed their church while tearing up an American flag,” said Abdul-Jabbar to Al Jazeera America.

Abdul-Jabbar is also a cancer survivor. He raised public awareness for cancer research and in 2011, he was awarded the Double Helix Medal for his work.

After Abdul-Jabbar comes Julia Gillard, the first female prime minister of Australia, who served from 2010 to 2013. Gillard is well-known for her “misogyny speech” on female rights, in which she labeled opposition leader Tony Abbott a misogynist.

I hope the leader of the opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation,” said Gillard in her speech. “Because if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives. He needs a mirror.”

The video of Gillard’s speech received over 2.5 million views on YouTube and even altered the definition of “misogyny” in the Australian Macquarie Dictionary.

After Gillard comes Dr. Paul Farmer, an anthropologist and physician who has spent his life delivering healthcare to low-income people. He co-founded Partners In Health, a nonprofit organization that provides healthcare to people in developing countries.

“Our mission is to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care,” states the Partners In Health website. “By establishing long-term relationships with sister organizations based in settings of poverty, Partners In Health strives to achieve two overarching goals: to bring the benefits of modern medical science to those most in need of them and to serve as an antidote to despair.”

Farmer has received several awards for his work, including the MacArthur Fellowship, the International Human Rights Award from Global Exchange, the American Medical Association’s Dr. Nathan Davis International Award in Medicine, the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences and five honorary doctorates.

The Bryan Series will conclude with American long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark cage, a feat that took her five tries to complete. Nyad completed the swim at the age of 64. In 2015, Nyad released her memoir, “Find a Way,” which detailed her quest to complete this lifelong dream.

“When you’re facing big challenges in your life, you can think about Diana Nyad getting attacked by the lethal sting of box jellyfishes,” said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “And nearly anything else seems doable in comparison.” 

According to the Guilford website, the 2018-19 Bryan Series speakers will inspire attendees.

“Join us for the 2018-19 season, when we’ll hear from inspiring speakers who share a powerful trait for positive change, an admirable balance of determination and integrity along with the clarity of conviction,” states the Guilford website.

Associate Vice President of Alumni and Constituent Relations Ty Buckner expressed similar sentiments.

“We knew we wanted speakers who had proven themselves through deep experience in their chosen field,” said Buckner. “I think we have a very interesting group of speakers, each of whom has abundant life experience and a great story to tell.”