Spring 2024 Lyceum Speaker Series

Theme: Unity in Celebration

February – Black History Month

“All About the Blues: A Historical Journey of America’s Musical Roots 

1pm – 2pm on Wednesday, February 21st (Hybrid Event)

In person gathering in CA 302 and use the link to register for this event to receive a confirmation email with zoom link to join the meeting virtually.

Speaker: Mr. Fruteland Jackson

In this presentation, Fruteland will discuss the origins of Blues music. Originating from the nation’s dark days of slavery, Blues music has evolved to embrace all races and ethnicities, becoming one of society’s first and most successful examples of diversity. Fruteland will also explore the positive impact it has had on American History.  “All About the Blues” is a journey and we invite you to come join us for our 2024- Black History Month Celebration to highlight his amazing work with “Blues in the Schools” to help keep the “Blues Alive!”

Bio: Mr. Fruteland Jackson is a transplant Chicagoan, born in Mississippi and raised on the blues while growing up in Chicago during the late 1960s and 1970s. He was surrounded by some of Chicago’s greatest blues pioneers, including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and the incomparable legend, Mr. Buddy Guy. Naturally, this music became a significant influence on Fruteland’s musical education and career. He began teaching himself how to play instruments like the acoustic guitar, banjo, and other stringed instruments, with a focus on mastering the classic blues styles of great pioneers such as Robert Johnson, Big Bill Bronzy, Memphis Minnie, Elizabeth Cotten, ragtime, and countless others.

For more information: https://www.fruteland.com/

Moderator: Ms. Connie Robinson  ( Enrollment Management and Scheduling – Annandale Campus)

March – Women’s History Month

A Brief History of Women’s Education

1pm – 2pm in CA 302, Annandale Campus on Thursday, March 28th

Speaker: Dr. Jennifer Winters

Today, women make up the majority of students in higher education, but this was not always the case.  Only a few centuries ago, education for women was restricted to wealthy and elite households, and this learning largely focused on their future responsibilities as wives and mothers.  It was not until the nineteenth century when women matriculated to institutions of higher education, opening doors to professional, highly technical careers and encouraging discourse on a woman’s place in society.

In this presentation, Dr. Winters will explore historical conceptions and rationales that restricted women from educational opportunities, how women overcame these restrictions, and how education has been used as a tool to strive to achieve political, social, and economic equality.

Bio: Dr. Jennifer Winters received her BA in History and the combined program of Religion and Philosophy from James Madison University.  She earned her M.Litt. in Reformation Studies and Ph.D. in History from the University of St Andrews (UK).  Her current research interests are in the fields of book history and the history of education in early modern Britain.  Her papers and presentations include ‘Piracy and Print in Elizabethan England: John Wolfe, Roger Ward and the Struggle against Privilege’, ‘Female Book Ownership in Provincial England, 1580-1640’, and ‘Women’s Education and Literacy in Colonial America’.  She is currently working on an examination of school books and grammar schools in seventeenth-century Britain. Since 2013, she has worked on NOVA’s Annandale campus, teaching classes in Western, World, and Women’s history.

Moderator: Dr. Manori Nadesalingam, Physics


April- National Poetry Month 

“Dystopian Love Stories”

1pm – 2pm in CA 302, Annandale Campus, on Wednesday, April 17th

Speaker: Prof. Indigo Eriksen

In  “Dystopian Love Stories” Indigo Eriksen will share a selection of her published and unpublished poetry interspersed with storytelling. Indigo’s work blends the political and the personal from the perspective of a flawed narrator. Her recent work juxtaposes the on-going genocide in Gaza with anxieties surrounding land stewardship in the US. Previous work examines connections between land, conflict, and colonialism. Juxtaposed against these themes are Indigo’s dating poems, which is how she earned the nickname “T. Swift of the family.”

Bio: Raised in Colorado and Virginia, J. Indigo Eriksen earned her BA in Environmental Studies from Lewis & Clark College before moving to Guatemala and Mexico. She received her MFA from Mills College and MA in Comparative Literature from San Francisco State University. A doctoral candidate at George Mason University in Virginia, Indigo’s research looks at strategies for dismantling white supremacy in college composition. She is Professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College where her unofficial work includes leading hiking trips and teaching students and staff how to backpack. Indigo previously served on the TYCA-SE REC as the Membership Chair for 2016-2019. Her creative work has appeared in the Texas Review Press (forthcoming, 2022), District Fray (July 2020), The Northern Virginia Review, Scratching Against the Fabric, Endlessly Rocking, and TYCA-SE Journal.  She is a 2023 Writing the Land poet with the Piney Grove Preserve. Indigo was a 2021 The Inner Loop Writer-in-Residence at the Woodlawn Pope-Leighey House and recipient of the 2019 Mary Roberts Rinehart prize in nonfiction from GMU.

Moderator: Prof. Steven Lessner, English


Fall 2023 Lyceum Speaker Series

Month of September

Constitution Day Event

2:00 pm -3:00 pm on Wednesday, September 13th,  This is a HyFlex event , and In person gathering in  CA 321, Annandale Campus.  

Link to registration if you are attending virtually 

After registration, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

“Rooting out discrimination, warrioring for equal rights, and why your lived experiences matter!”

Speaker: Lisa Sales, President of Virginia Chapter of National Organization for Women (VaNOW)


Moderator: Melissa Chabot (Associate Professor of Communication Studies)


Hispanic Heritage Fiesta for celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month 

From 11:00 am to 2:30 pm  in front of CF building on Wednesday, September 20th. 

The event welcomes the Latin community and any other interested participants to set up booths or tents, providing opportunities to offer complimentary food samples, sell arts, crafts, and food items to our students and faculty and staff.

Main Organizers: Connie Robinson and Judith Gomez ( Campus  Administrative staff)


Deaf Awareness Month

5:00 pm -6:00 pm, Thursday, September 28th,  

Register in advance for this meeting:


“Mohamed Del: A Beacon of Hope and Education”

Speaker: Mr. Mohamed Del

Mohamed Del, born in Mogadishu, the bustling capital of Somalia, has impacted education and advocacy for the Deaf community. His journey, full of challenges, has taken him from the heart of Somalia to the United States.

Mohamed’s dedication to fostering the development of Somalian Sign Language shines through in his notable presentations. At the International Muslim conference in Qatar, he advocated for establishing Somalian schools and proposed the creation of Deaf schools in Puntland, Somalia.

In addition to his advocacy work, Mohamed has also made significant contributions to the field of language instruction. He has taught Arabic classes at Global Deaf Muslim, a non-profit organization committed to supporting the Deaf Muslim community.

Mohamed’s influence extends beyond the classroom. As a panelist, he’s strongly advocated for creating Muslim sign language materials, which are incredibly valuable for Deaf Muslims or anyone interested in learning Muslim signs.

His active involvement in interfaith discussions highlights his dedication to fostering understanding and dialogue and showcases his genuine passion for bridging cultural and religious divides. Through his valuable contributions to discussion forums on Christian and Muslim faiths, he exemplifies a willingness to connect and embrace diverse perspectives.

Mohamed’s inspiring journey from Somalia to America for better education opportunities amid civil unrest in his homeland offers a powerful narrative of resilience and determination. As a guest speaker, he has shared these experiences, shedding light on the particular challenges faced by the Deaf community and providing inspiration to many.

This Deaf Awareness Month, we are privileged to host Mohamed Del, a true embodiment of perseverance, education, and advocacy.

Moderator: Fatimah Aziz ( Professor of American Sign Language)


Month of October 

1:00 to 2:00 pm in CA 302 on Wednesday, October 11th.

Back by popular demand, we are hosting a featured guest speaker in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month – Mr. Michel Zajur, “Mexican American Roots” brought to you by the Lyceum Committee’s Our American Dream Series.


Mr. Zajur is a well-respected VCCS Board Member and the Founder and CEO of both the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Hispanic Foundation.

Please join us as we celebrate this highly accomplished local business leader, entrepreneur, and community advocate who has significantly contributed to the growth and development of the Hispanic Community. Therefore, we invite you to come out and help us welcome one of the most influential people in Northern Virginia, who has made an impact throughout the Hispanic Community and beyond.

Moderator: Connie Robinson ( Annandale Campus Administrative Staff)


Month of November

In House Presenter

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm, in CA 302, on Wednesday, November 1st.

“I Wonder if ‘Jackhammers for the Unicorn Brigade’ is the Weirdest Thing I’ll Have to Find in This War.”

Speaker: Ms. Robin C. Rohrback, Science Learning Center Coordinator, Annandale Campus

Ukraine’s military and humanitarian successes rest in part on the creativity and resourcefulness of Ukrainian civil society and the nimble global network of volunteers who support it. In March 2023, Robin Rohrback took a quick trip to Kyiv, Ukraine to deliver over 100 pounds of volunteer-sourced and -delivered tactical medical supplies for a Ukrainian Army brigade in Donbas, electronic components and an old drone for a crack group of tinkerers in a Kyiv basement solving technical challenges for the Ukrainian military, and some other assorted odds and ends.

Ms. Rohrback will discuss her experiences and share pictures and videos from her trip. She will also discuss a few of the volunteers she works with and the astonishing work they do, such as getting jackhammers for the Unicorn Brigade, a demining suit from the president of Malaysia, and simple, everyday supplies to residents of occupied regions in the absence of green corridors.

Ms. Rohrback has been active in Ukrainian matters since the 2013-2014 Revolution of Dignity, during which she was the head English-language editor for EuroMaidan PR (now Euromaidan Press). She has helped supply the Ukrainian military off and on since mid-2014. She is a senior moderator for r/Ukraine, the world’s largest English-language forum dedicated solely to Ukraine; sits on the board of Ukraine Front Line, an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) dedicated to supplying troops on the front lines, and serves as their logistics coordinator; and is a general helper-around-the-edges when needs arise.

Moderator: Manori Nadesalingam ( Professor of Physics)

Spring 2023 Lyceum Speaker Series


Title: What your mouth may say about your health

Wednesday, February 1st from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm, in CA 302,  Annandale Campus

Speaker: Marina D. McGraw, Associate Dean of Health Sciences, NOVA-MEC

The overall content will address how nutrition and oral health have a bidirectional relationship. 

The discussion will include the following key points:  

  • How nutritional deficiencies may affect oral health regarding growth, development, healing, and diseases of the oral cavity.  
  • Signs that can occur in the oral cavity that might indicate nutritional challenges. This will be connected to dental hygiene as well.

Short Biography of the speaker: 

Prof. Marina D. McGraw is the Associate Dean of Health Sciences at Northern Virginia Community College.   She has been a dental hygienist for 26 ½ years and worked 18 of those years in private practice in Charlottesville, VA and the last 8 ½ have been at Northern Virginia Community College. She is currently a doctoral student in health science at Eastern Virginia Medical School on Norfolk, VA and She earned a MS on Health Administration from University of Phoenix in Phoenix, AZ and BS in Health Science from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA an AAS in Dental Hygiene from Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke, VA

She has a 13-year-old daughter and enjoy reading and a variety of outdoor activities.

(Refreshments will be served for this event)



Title: “Courageous women of Iran”

Wednesday, March 1st From 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm, in CA 302, Annandale Campus 

Speaker: Author Manda Ervin

The Ladies’ Secret Society History of the Courageous Women of Iran From the Ruling Women-Gods, 5,000 B.C.E. To being ruled by the “men of God,” 2020 C.E.

This riveting and remarkable book reveals, in print for the first time, the long history of struggle against clerical domination that Iranian women have been engaged in for centuries. Rooted in the proud history of ancient Iran, where Mother-Gods were once ruled, the Ladies’ Secret Society, an organization founded in 1909, was both the inheritor of this proud history, and the progenitor of the contemporary women’s rights campaign in the Iran of today. Zand Ervin relates the stories, and records the accomplishments, of generations of individual women activists, who fought like lionesses for every scrap of freedom they gained, only to see all their hard-won rights destroyed with the coming of Khomeini’s Islamic takeover. During the Islamic revolution, Zand Ervin witnessed the execution of many innocent people, including her high school principal, who was executed simply because she was a woman, and the Secretary of Education. She offers heartbreaking and compelling eyewitness testimonies of strong and emancipated women who were brutally pushed backwards to living under a crude, medieval foreign society, and who have fought back, under sometimes impossible odds, and continue fighting today. Manda Zand Ervin’s History of Iranian women-Gods, who have been imprisoned behind a veil, offers an insight and context to news of injustice caused by the clerical Gender Apartheid regime ruling Iran which continues today. 

Biography of the speaker: 

Manda Zand Ervin is the founder and president of the Alliance of Iranian Women, an organization that brings the voices of Iranian women living under the gender apartheid regime’s Sharia Laws to the West. 

Born in Iran, and educated in the United States, Ervin was the managing director of the department of statistics and international affairs at the Customs Administration of Iran prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In 1980, Ms. Zand Ervin came to the United States as a political refugee and became a US citizen three years later. As a women’s rights activist and leading expert on Iranian affairs, she has been frequently consulted by Members of Congress, and she has testified at Congressional briefings, the Helsinki Commission, and the United Nations. In February 2008, Zand Ervin was appointed as the United States Delegate to the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women. She was also the featured speaker at the G8 Summit in Rome, on Violence against Women in 2009.  In 2012, she received the EMET Speaker of the Truth award.

Manda Zand-Ervin’s articles have appeared in; American Thinker, the Washington Times, PJ Media, Gate Stone Institute, and many others. She has appeared on CNN, Fox News, BBC and regularly speaks on human rights, women’s rights and the Middle East issues.



Title: A Better You

Tuesday, March 21st from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm, in CA 302, Annandale Campus   

Speaker: Cecil J. Jackson, Assistant Athletic Director/Campus Recreation and Wellness Director and a PED adjunct professor at NOVA

The session is designed to provide participants with the knowledge to understand and apply principles involved in promoting and maintaining total wellness. The participants will learn and understand the concepts of wellness and how it relates to a healthy lifestyle. 

The discussion will include the following key points:  

  • Understand the dimensions of wellness 
  • Understand and apply principles involved in promoting and maintaining total wellness 
  • Recognize the concepts of wellness and how it relates to a healthy lifestyle 
  • Evaluate and apply wellness concepts to individual lifestyle 

Short Biography of the speaker: 

CJ Jackson is the Assistant Athletic Director/Campus Recreation and Wellness Director and a PED adjunct professor at NOVA. CJ has been active in the fitness and wellness industry for over 12 years and has worked in many roles, including life coaching, personal training, mentoring high school and college athletes, and facilitating senior citizens in leisure and wellness activities. CJ mission is to empower and help people across all ages change their lives for the better through activity and wellness.  



Presentation by authors of  ” I will die on this hill”

Wednesday, April 5th  from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm via ZOOM. 

Speakers: Megan Ashburn “Not an autism mom” and Jules Edwards “Autistic, typing” about autism 

Link to the book  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1839971681?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details

Jules Edwards is an Anishinaabe writer, gardener, accountant, and disability justice advocate. She is a co-author of I Will Die On This Hill, and writes as “Autistic, Typing.” Jules’ background includes a Leadership Education in Neuro-developmental Disabilities (LEND) fellowship, Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) National Training Director Council fellowship, and 2022-23 Wilder Foundation Community Equity Program membership. She works to improve child safety and disability policy.

Meghan Ashburn is an educational consultant, speaker, parent mentor, and co-author of the newly released book, I WIll Die On This Hill. She’s passionate about accessibility, inclusion, and communication rights. Her website, Not An Autism Mom, is loaded with resources to help educators and parents support Autistic children inside and outside the classroom. 

Moderator Prof. Melissa Chabot






Fall 2022: Lyceum Seminar Series

Celebration of Constitution Day
Time and Date: 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm, Thursday, September 15th
Location: CA 302
Panel Discussion on “The Constitution and Contemporary Justice Issues”

Moderator:Dr. Hemchand Gossai (Associate Dean, Humanities and Social Sciences, Annandale Campus)

*Dr. Noah Cincinnati (Associate Professor, History. Panelist)
*Dr. Jack Lechelt (Professor, Political Science. Panelist)
*Dr. Jennifer Sayasithsena (Professor, Political Science. Panelist)


Dr. Hemchand Gossai, is the Associate Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at Annandale campus of NOVA. He earned his B.A. with a triple major in English, Spanish, and Religious Studies, graduating Summa Cum Laude. He earned his Ph.D. in Biblical Hermeneutics and Hebrew at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Dr. Gossai is the author of eight books.

Dr. Noah Cincinnati has been at NOVA since 2012. He is Associate Professor of History at the Annandale campus. He earned a Ph.D. in U.S. history from The Johns Hopkins University. He teaches a range of topics in U.S. history, but is particularly interested in the history of ideas and institutions.

Dr. Jack Lechelt is a political science and history professor at the Loudoun Campus.  He has a  PhD in political science from the University of South Carolina, in Columbia, SC, and has worked at NOVA since 2006.  His areas of focus include American government, international relations, and state and local politics.  He lives in the Leesburg area with his wife, two kids, and two mini-Schnauzers!

Dr. Jennifer Sayasithsena is Professor of Political Science at the Annandale Campus. She came to NOVA in 2011 after many years working in health policy. Dr. Sayasithsena earned her Ph.D. in political science from The George Washington University. Her primary interests are American campaigns and elections, public opinion, and state and local politics.

Refreshments will be served. 

Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month

* Hispanic Heritage Fiesta

Enjoy Good Food, Live Music and Fun!

Time and Date: 11:30 am to 1:30 pm on Wednesday 12th, October 2022. Location: In Front of CF Building

* Talk on Our American Dream; Latino Contributions through Civic Participation”
Guest Speaker: Honorable J. Walter Tejada
Time and Date : from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm on Wednesday 12th, October 2022
Location: CA 302

In 2003, J. Walter Tejada became the first person of Latin American heritage to be elected to the Arlington County Board, or to any governing body in Northern Virginia. Mr. Tejada was born in El Salvador and immigrated to the United States at age 13. Mr. Tejada got his start as an activist and organizer after witnessing inequities faced by members of the Latinx community. He initially worked in groups addressing fair housing, job opportunities, and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). He also helped to establish a Salvadoran festival in Arlington, starting in 1995, focusing on Salvadoran culture. Mr. Tejada served as County Board Chair in 2008 and 2013 and is still active throughout the community to this day, serving on the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority.


  • Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is a public institution dedicated to serving the Commonwealth of Virginia and to promoting the free exchange of ideas and informed citizenship. Northern Virginia Community College welcomes political candidates, elected officials, and guest speakers from all partisan and ideological perspectives to visit campus and to present their ideas. These appearances do not constitute an endorsement of any party, candidate, or ideological perspective.


National Bullying Prevention month

Guest Speaker: Dr. Sabrina B. Ricks (Associate Professor-Business & Public Services Department, Manassas Campus, NOVA)

Talk on “Finding Your Voice to Beat Bullying”
Time and Date: 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm on Friday, October 28th
Location: Virtual (Zoom)

Link to the registration: 


The discussion will focus on: 

  • understanding details about the bully, target and witness
  • the dangers of cyberbullying and managing your interactions on social media
  • how bullying can impact you in the workplace

About the speaker: 

Dr. Sabrina B. Ricks is an associate professor for Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). She has taught for NOVA for seven years and served in the Business and Public Services Department as well as the Student Development Department. She has taught at multiple campuses, including NOVA Online. She has also served as a first-year advisor.
Dr. Ricks has authored several publications and articles addressing workplace bullying, cyberbullying, dangers in the workplace, tips for working remotely, and was recently interviewed by Prince William Living magazine about the importance of emotional intelligence. Her book, Bullied at Work…A Journey of Growth & Perseverance was released in 2021 and is available on Amazon, sbrleadership.com, and in the NOVA Annandale library.


Guest Speaker: Mazi Mutafa, Founding Director of Words, Beats, & Life, DC’s longest running, dopest Hip-Hop based arts educational non profit. 

Talk on “Creating Your Own Future

A discussion of the power of imaginative thinking, community and purpose driven decision making.

Time and Date: 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm on Thursday, November 10th
Location: Virtual (Zoom)

Link to the registration: 


Mazi Mutafa is the founding Executive Director of Words Beats & Life, a hip-hop non-profit established in Washington D.C in 2002. Mr. Mutafa received his Bachelor’s degree in African American studies from the University of Maryland and  became a Brother of Phi BetaSigma Fraternity. He has been a guest lecturer at the University of Maryland, Georgetown University, and George Washington University and, in 2019, was an adjunct professor at American University, co-teaching a course about international hip-hop, called “Whose Hip-Hop Is It?”

As an expert in the fields of Muslimness, Hip-Hop culture, public art and arts education, creative employment, cultural diplomacy, and centering marginalized voices, Mr. Mutafa has made numerous media appearances. They have included all network TV stations in Washington, as well as N.P.R. and other local public radio outlets, plus the Washington Post, Washington City Paper, Kids Post Washington, East of the River and Washington Times.

He contributed a chapter to the Handbook of Research on Black Males, published by Michigan State University Press and an interview with Mazi is included in The Hip-Hop Mindset: A Professional Practice on Rutledge Press. Mr. Mutafa is also the host of a hip-hop show called “Live @ 5,” heard quarterly on WPFW 89.3 FM, featuring performances and interviews with MC’s, poets, DJ’s, producers, and vocalists.

Visit : https://wblinc.org/squad?gclid=Cj0KCQjw-JyUBhCuARIsANUqQ_KdNaM0wzmg-j328tD8VKDHtapK36gqGCpN1QM_tANAI-qx3-b5G6saAgKYEALw_wcB


This event will be held at 7:00 p.m. in CS 129 at Annandale campus on Wednesday, July 27th. Please register in advance here. https://events.vtools.ieee.org/m/319738
The event is co-sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).
Harnessing graphene’s properties on a silicon platform could augment integrated technologies with a broad range of novel miniaturized functionalities. Prof. Iacopi will review the learnings from the development of the epitaxial graphene on silicon carbide on silicon technology and some of its most promising applications. This platform allows to obtain any complex graphene -coated silicon carbide 3D nanostructures in a site – selective fashion at the wafer -scale and with sufficient adhesion for integration.
Professor Iacopi has over 20 years’ industrial and academic research expertise in semiconductor technologies, with over 130 peer-reviewed publications and 10 granted US patents, spanning from interconnects, CMOS devices and packaging. Her research focuses on the translation of basic scientific advances in nanomaterials and novel device concepts into implementable technologies. She leads the Integrated Nanosystems Lab, in the Faculty of Engineering and IT, University of Technology Sydney.

Refreshments will be served.

For more information about this and other Lyceum events, please visit: https://blogs.nvcc.edu/lyceum/

Submitted by:
Manori Nadesalingam, AN-Physics, mnadesalingam@nvcc.edu

Lyceum Event:”Physics of Music”, Thursday, April 28th at 1:00 pm (EST)

Recording of the talk: Physics of Music

Access Passcode: 356894&A


The Lyceum Committee welcomes Dr. Alex. Weiss to discuss “Physics of Music”.  This virtual event will be held on Thursday, April 28 at 1 p.m.(EST). Please register in advance here.

Music is the art of arranging sound in time that shows different characteristics. Dr. Weiss will discuss the similarities and differences between sound and music, properties of sound waves and standing waves in addition to science of musical instruments and psychoacoustics.

Dr. Alexander H. Weiss is currently a distinguished professor of physics and the chair of the physics department at the University of Texas at Arlington. He received his Ph.D. in physics from Brandeis University.  After receiving his Ph.D., Dr. Weiss was a post-doctoral researcher at Harvard University where he performed the first x-ray scattering measurements from liquid-gas interfaces.

For more information about this and other Lyceum events, please visit: https://blogs.nvcc.edu/lyceum/

Submitted by:
Manori Nadesalingam, AN-Physics, mnadesalingam@nvcc.edu



Friday, April 15, 1 p.m., Annandale Campus – CE Forum

The Lyceum Committee welcomes S. H. Fernando to discuss “Clan In The Front: How Wu-Tang Transcended the Rap Game to Become Cultural Icons” 

Image of author S. H. Fernando with rap artist Method Man.
Image of author S. H. Fernando with rap artist Method Man.

S. H. Fernando is a man of many titles and much distinction. Music Journalist, Club and Radio Deejay, Music Producer, Film Director, Hip Hop Contributor and Aficionado. A graduate of Harvard University and the Columbia School of Journalism, Skiz Fernando began his career as a journalist on Hip Hop music and culture for The Source magazine.  In addition to writing for The Source, Fernando has written for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Vibe.  His in-depth research on Hip Hop led him to write and publish the groundbreaking and highly acclaimed book The New Beats: Exploring the Music, Culture and Attitudes of Hip-Hop (1994), which chronicled and preserved Hip Hop culture in an innovative way for readers.

Using his research generated from this book, Fernando started his own music label WordSound recordings in that same year.  In the last 20 years, WordSound released 65 full-length albums and numerous EPs, singles, and remixes, from experimental dub and hip-hop to electronic and Middle Eastern music.  Fernando, as a producer, has created 10 albums under his alter-ego, Spectre.

Fernando has also written, produced, and directed a narrative feature film Crooked (2001).  Two additional feature films he directed include The Greatest Thing You Never Heard (2003), a dubumentary about the WordSound label and Industria Brasileira (Made In Brasil) (2010), a documentary about the new music scene in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

In 2007, Fernando wrote a cookbook about the local cuisine of his homeland Sri Lanka titled Rice & Curry: Sri Lankan Home Cooking (Hippocrene Books, 2011).  This was a New York Times notable cookbook and got Fernando a spot on the popular Travel Channel show, No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, where Fernando was the host’s on camera guide in Sri Lanka.  Fernando further writes a blog called “Rice & Curry,” devoted to Sri Lankan food.  He produces and hosts his own cooking show on YouTube called Pan Asian, as well as another food/travel show called Off The Eaten Path.

Recently in 2021, Fernando wrote and published From The Streets of Shaolin: The Wu-Tang Saga (Hachette Books), the definitive biography of legendary hip-hop group, Wu-Tang Clan.  This amazing work features “decades of unpublished interviews and unparalleled access to members of the group and their associates” (from book jacket).  His engaging talk will chronicle his research and writing of this groundbreaking text, and his interactions with the Wu members.  Hope to see you there!

March Lyceum Event: How Music Training Impacts Child Development

Wednesday, March 23, @ 12 noon:

The Lyceum Committee welcomes Dr. Assal Habibi to discuss, “The brain’s crescendo: How music training impacts child development.”

This event is on Zoom, register in advance for this meeting:


Assal Habibi is an Associate Research Professor of Psychology at the Brain and Creativity Institute at University of Southern California. Her research takes a broad perspective on understanding music’s influence on health and development, focusing on how biological dispositions and music learning experiences shape the brain and development of cognitive, emotional, and social abilities across the lifespan.

She is an expert on the use of electrophysiologic and neuroimaging methods to investigate human brain function and has used longitudinal and cross-sectional designs to investigate how music training impacts the development of children from under-resourced communities, and how music generally is processed by the body and the brain.

Her research program has been supported by federal agencies and private foundations including the NIH, NEA and the GRoW @ Annenberg Foundation and her findings have been published in peer reviewed journals including Cerebral Cortex, Music Perception, Neuroimage and PLoS ONE. Currently, she is the lead investigator of a multi-year study, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and their Youth Orchestra program (YOLA), investigating the effects of early childhood music training on the development of brain function and structure as well as language skills, cognitive, emotional, and social abilities. Dr. Habibi is a classically trained pianist and has many years of musical teaching experience with children, a longstanding personal passion.

In Search of the Blues: Three Chords and the Truth

We are getting excited about hosting our next speakers, Josephine Matyas and Craig Jones on Tuesday, February 22, at 2 p.m. as they present their talk, “In search of the blues: Three chords & the truth.”

Please join us in the CE Forum for food, refreshments, and music! (Free parking in lot B13)

This event is open to the public and no RSVP is required!

Learn more about their work here: