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Bowdoin to Award Influential Nigerian Author With Honorary Doctorate Degree

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Bowdoin will bestow three honorary degrees at its 213th Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 26, 2018. The ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m. on the Quad in front of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

This year’s honorary degree recipients are MacArthur “genius grant” recipient and Nigerian-born author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, chemist and Nobel laureate Thomas R. Cech, and former diplomat and government official Susan E. Rice, a Rhodes Scholar with deep family ties to Bowdoin.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters

In 2015 TIME magazine named novelist, nonfiction writer, and short-story writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” for writing stories that challenge narratives built on stereotypes of race, gender, politics, and national identity. Born in Enugu, Nigeria, Adichie studied medicine and pharmacology at the University of Nigeria for a year before coming to the United States to pursue a degree in communications and political science. After two years at Drexel University, she graduated summa cum laude from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2001 and then completed a master of arts degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University. In 2003, she won the O. Henry Prize for her short story “The American Embassy.” Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award (Best Debut, Fiction).

Adichie was a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University in 2005 and earned an MA in African history from Yale University in 2008. She was chosen as a MacArthur Foundation Fellow (popularly known as a “genius grant”) in 2008. A fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in 2011-2012 allowed her to complete Americanah, her third novel, which would win the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. In addition to her four novels, she has published two books of essays, We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, as well as works of short fiction and magazine articles.

Her books have been published in thirty languages, and her TED talks on “The Danger of a Single Narrative” and feminism have reached a worldwide audience. A writer who has established herself as a strong and clear voice, while at the same time embracing and encouraging the complexities of individual circumstances and stories, Adichie divides her time between lives the United States and in Nigeria.

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