Ilhan Omar featured as Keynote Speaker at Normandale Success Day on Feb. 28

By Steven Geller - Director of Media and Public Relations

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Normandale Community College will host the eighth annual Success Day on campus on Tuesday, February 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. This year's theme is "Building Bridges"

Success Day will feature a pair of keynote speakers, Representative Ilhan Omar and University of Wisconsin-River Falls Professor and Assistant Dean for Teaching and Learning Cyndi Kernahan.

Rep. Omar, who is the morning keynote speaker starting at 8:30 a.m., became the first Somali-American woman elected to State Office in the United States by focusing on building bridges, not emphasizing differences. The diverse coalition her campaign created has roots in her experience as a young immigrant confronting the multiple identities that marked her as "other" the United States. On Normandale Success Day, Rep. Omar will discuss how her life of building communities through shared values has led her to represent one of the most diverse districts in Minnesota.

Rep. Omar is an experienced policy analyst, progressive activist, and coalition builder. While working as a Senior Policy Aid at the City of Minneapolis, she spearheaded the successful effort to pass paid sick leave for all workers and to pass an ordinance allowing businesses to stay open late during Ramadan. Rep. Omar most recently served as the Director of Policy Initiatives at Women Organizing Women, where she empowered East African woman to take civic leadership roles.

She is committed to unity and justice, and focuses on establishing prosperity for all communities, achieving environmental justice, and advancing racial equity.

Kernahan will be speaking as part of the evening keynote starting at 5 p.m. Her session will focus on explaining implicit racial bias in terms of what it is and what it is not. Kernahan will also cover what we know, how we can reduce our implicit racial biases, and the ways we can use this science to improve policies and decrease discrimination.

She is a Social Psychologist, and teaches Social Psychology, the Psychology of Prejudice and Racism, Careers in Psychology, and Senior Seminar. As a specialist in the area of race and racism, Kernahan regularly conducts research and writes about how students learn with respect to this controversial topic.

Success Day will also feature a Health Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., an Academic Fair from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the "Human Library" from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., a "Meet the Leaders" event from 3 to 4:50 p.m. and over 60 sessions with subjects including careers, finance, leadership, personal interest and wellness.