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Alumna Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Receive Honorary Degree at Commencement

Published on April 17, 2015

Alumna Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Receive Honorary Degree at Commencement

Internationally acclaimed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ‘01 will receive an honorary doctorate and bring greetings to the graduates at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 125th Commencement exercises at the XL Center in Hartford on May 12. Adichie grew up in Nsukka in southeastern Nigeria. Her work has been translated into 30 languages and has appeared in publications around the world.

She entered the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to study medicine and pharmacy, leaving at the age of 19 to continue her education in the United States, but on a different path. She has been writing since the age of four; her first publication appeared when she was in secondary school in Nsukka.

Adichie first entered Drexel University, transferring to Eastern Connecticut State University to live with her sister, a doctor based in Connecticut. She graduated summa cum laude from Eastern in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication. Adichie subsequently earned her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University. After publishing her first two books, she studied at Yale University and graduated with a Master of Arts degree in African History.

In 2004, Eastern presented Adichie its Distinguished Alumni Award. During the 2005-06 academic year, Adichie was awarded a fellowship at Princeton University, following which she received a fellowship to study at the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University. In 2008, she was awarded a Macarthur Fellowship, popularly known around the world as the Macarthur Genius Award. And last month, Ms. Adichie was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Adichie is the author of a collection of short stories, “The Thing Around Your Neck,” and three novels. Her first novel, “Purple Hibiscus,” won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

Her second novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Orange Prize—the world’s top prize for female writers—and was also a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, a New York Times Notable Book, and a People and Black Issues Book Review Best Book of the Year. Her latest novel, “Americanah,” was published around the world in 2013. It has received many accolades, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and recognition as one of The New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year in 2013. “Half of A Yellow Sun” was also made into a feature film, starring Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor, and “Americanah” is set to be adapted into a movie starring Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo.

In addition to her writing, Ms. Adichie has been invited to speak on many occasions around the world. Two of the most notable are TED Talks. The first, “The Danger of a Single Story,” was delivered in 2009 and is now one of the Top Ten most-viewed TED Talks of all time. The second, “We Should All Be Feminists,” has started a worldwide conversation about feminism, picking up even greater inertia after it inspired the song “Flawless” by Beyoncé.

Adichie is committed to assisting young aspiring writers. As one of her commitments, she started an Annual Writers Workshop in Nigeria that draws applications come from around the world. Her deep love for her country is evident in her work, and in 2011 the Nigerian Government awarded her the Global Ambassador Achievement Award.

Written by Edward Osborn

Categories: Communication