Bestselling author to help kick off new school year at fall convocation

William KamkwambaA university is a place where innovation happens. Where small thoughts can turn into major breakthroughs. Where creativity gets results. As another year of ideas and opportunities opens, one of today’s most inspiring college students will share his story at Case Western Reserve University’s fall convocation.

William Kamkwamba, author of The New York Times bestseller The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, will give the keynote address at Case Western Reserve’s fall convocation at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 29, in Severance Hall.

This event opens the academic year with an formal procession, recognition of this year’s Distinguished University Professors (to be announced in The Daily next week) and a keynote address. The event is free and open to the public but requires a ticket from the Severance Hall Box Office.

Kamkwamba, a 25-year-old Dartmouth University junior, is the first college student to be named as a convocation speaker at Case Western Reserve. His book, co-written with journalist Bryan Mealer, was this year’s common reading selection and was given to all incoming first-year students as summer reading.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind tells Kamkwamba’s story, starting with his childhood in a village in Malawi, Africa, where he helped farm and dealt with the region’s worst famine in 50 years. But when his parents could no longer afford the $80 (USD) annual tuition, Kamkwamba was forced to drop out.

After ending his formal education, he spent time at the community library, where he learned about science and used the newfound knowledge to help fuel his dreams of bringing electricity and light to his village.

His quest started with a pedal-powered wheel that generated light. But before long, Kamkwamba realized he wanted more for his village, and he set out to construct a windmill.

Kamkwamba’s story is filled with adversity, from financial obstacles to public mockery—not to mention the fact that he had to teach himself physics. But his book relates more than just his personal journey; he also tells of the plight of Malawi, where AIDS and poverty are pervasive, and his vision for a new Africa, filled with leaders and innovation.

Kamkwamba, a 2007 TED Global Fellow and a student in the inaugural class of the Pan-African Leadership Academy in South Africa, has addressed audiences at the 2008 World Economic Forum, at TED conferences and at schools and universities around the world.

The public can reserve free tickets by contacting the Severance Hall box office at 216.231.1111 or online through the Severance Hall Box Office website.

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