The Art and Culture Enrichment Series (ACES) at SNHU hosted Emmy-award winning actress Laverne Cox on April 9 in the Dining Center Banquet Hall for her talk entitled, “Ain’t I a Woman?”

Cox is known for her leading role of Sophia Burset in the show “Orange is the New Black,” which has earned her and the rest of the cast multiple award nominations and wins. Alongside her acting achievements, Cox is an advocate for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning+ (LGBTQ+) community and uses her platform to speak out about transgender equality and self-acceptance.

The event began at 7 p.m. when Cox took to the stage to present for a crowd of SNHU students and faculty and speak about her journey and experiences growing up as a transgender woman.

In “Ain’t I a Woman?” Cox shared her own personal story of growth to bring attention to challenges surrounding race and gender identity.

Following the presentation, Cox accepted questions from members of the audience and offered students advice on learning self-acceptance.

Richelene Pierre, a first-year student at SNHU, attended this event after watching Laverne Cox on “Orange is the New Black.”

“I love Sophia’s character on the show,” said Pierre. “She strongly represents many minorities who struggle with their gender identity.”

ACES is a new committee this year and was determined to bring an inspiring speaker to SNHU for the campus community. Colleen Lubin, the Associate Director of Student Involvement, helped coordinate this event.

“She is just an inspiration and the epitome of triumph after adversity,” said Lubin. “She talked about having empathy and love when dealing with people who don’t understand you, even ones who are cruel, and I think that is a very difficult thing to accomplish.”

Pierre believed that Cox successfully shared her story in a way that was influential and engaging to the audience. “The things Laverne touched upon were so moving,” said Pierre. “It reminded me how important it is to love yourself before you bring anyone else into the picture.”

The event brought together a large turnout of students and faculty who believed that Cox successfully inspired others through her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech.

“I hope the students learned from her and felt supported,” said Lubin. “The committee felt it was most important to bring someone who would share a message of inclusivity and I think she did just that.”

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