Maya Soetoro-Ng, peace-builder, educator and author is the featured speaker for the university’s 2022 baccalaureate ceremony.
Soetoro-Ng is a faculty specialist in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She also serves as the university’s liaison to the Obama Foundation.
Through her three nonprofits — Ceeds of Peace, the Institute for Climate and Peace and The Peace Studio — Soetoro-Ng is working to address key issues such as sustainability, negative public discourse, polarization and community level injustices through a peace-building lens, promoting cohesive relationships, negotiated solutions and collaborative problem-solving.
“I am grateful to have the opportunity to speak to the next generation of professionals and leaders who are concluding their studies at the University of Southern California. At a time when there is so much conflict, I hope to show students that there is endless possibility for turning their ideas into pathways for peace. More than anything, I am excited to help celebrate all of the amazing accomplishments of this year’s diverse and persevering graduating class,” said Soetoro-Ng.
“Peace to me is that which is constructive, rather than destructive. It is not just the absence of violence but the presence of justice and the participation of all human beings in working to build healthier, loving communities. Peace is both profoundly strong and requires profound strength. And until it belongs to all of us, it belongs to none,” she added.
As co-founder and senior adviser of the Institute for Climate and Peace, Soetoro-Ng is working to protect small island developing states and other frontline communities that are among the first to suffer the devastating effects of climate change. Increasing heat, lack of fresh water and sea level rise are among the threats those communities face. At The Peace Studio, she is working to invest in the well-being and professional development of artists and journalists that are challenging injustice and bridging divides in local communities.
The baccalaureate ceremony will be held May 12, at Bovard Auditorium. University dignitaries and religious directors will join the non-denominational, interfaith celebration, which is open to all students and their guests.
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