Liz Murray shares inspiring life journey at Distinguished Lecture Series, third annual educator night

Sep 25, 2019 | American Studies Institute |

The American Studies Institute will feature Liz Murray, co-founder and executive director of The Arthur Project, to kick off the Distinguished Lecture Series. The lecture titled “From Homeless to Harvard” is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28 in the Benson Auditorium and serves as the institute’s third annual Educator Appreciation Night. Murray’s lecture highlights the transformative power of education and the importance of teachers, counselors and administrators in that transformation.

All educators are invited to attend as honored guests and will receive priority seating for the presentation, a special identification badge and recognition during the event. As in previous years, a drawing will be held for educator participants for a special prize for their school. Last year’s winning school was University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville which received “A day with Dr. Christine Darden.” Darden, one of NASA’s “Hidden Figures,” who became the subject of a popular book and movie, visited the school and conducted lectures, held Q&A sessions, and had lunch with students, teachers and administrators. This year’s prize and winner will be announced at the end of the evening’s program.

Liz Murray’s life is a story of triumph over adversity. By the age of 15, Murray was living on the streets, riding the subway all night, and eating from dumpsters. Amidst the pain, Murray believed her life could be greater.

“I started to grasp the value of the lessons learned while living on the streets,” Murray said. “I knew after overcoming those daily obstacles that next to nothing could hold me down.”

With the support of an upstairs neighbor and trusted family friend, Murray finished high school in just two years and received a full scholarship to Harvard University. After graduating in 2009, she went on to earn her master’s degree in the psychology of education at Columbia University.

Today, Murray advocates for underserved youth. As co-founder and executive director of The Arthur Project, a mentoring program that works closely with at-risk youth through the duration of middle school, Murray strives to end generational poverty through relationship-based learning.

“As educators and mental health professionals, we face many of today’s societal and cultural issues on the front lines, and it’s often not pretty,” Donny Lee, dean of the College of Education, said. “Homelessness, addictions, hunger, broken families, and violence haunt the landscape of today’s students and their families, and we know there has to be something better we can offer. Something that offers hope. I am happy that Liz Murray will be sharing her own life experiences with us as part of the ASI speakers series this fall. She brings authenticity, vulnerability, and hope to bear for all of us who work with children and families. I look forward to hearing her inspirational message that will challenge the status quo and move us to act in bold and courageous ways in our schools and communities as educators and mental health professionals.”

The event is free admission and open to the public. For more information, visit or call 501-279-4497. For other Harding events and free and low cost services available to the community, visit

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