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An evening with Janelle Monáe: All about ASU's 2023 Fall Welcome speaker


Portrait of artist Janelle Monáe.

Janelle Monáe

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August 11, 2023

To welcome new and returning students to Arizona State University each academic year, Changemaker Central hosts a Fall Welcome speaker event featuring a celebrity guest. This year’s event, taking place at 8 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 14, will feature multi-hyphenate, eight-time Grammy-nominated artist, New York Times bestselling author, actor and fashion icon Janelle Monáe.

The process for selecting the Fall Welcome speaker began in February with the formation of a special committee made up of ASU students and staff leaders to brainstorm speakers who would both excite students and align with ASU values and the theme of wellness.

“Janelle Monáe was chosen for her unique perspective on balance and wellness from her experience as a successful artist, actor, singer and advocate for mental health,” said Mckenzie Woodhead, fitness program manager at Sun Devil Fitness Complex, politics and the economy undergraduate student and member of the Fall Welcome speaker committee. “I hope hearing from Janelle Monáe sparks conversation and connection between ASU students.”

The Fall Welcome speaker represents an opportunity to engage ASU students in a culture of making positive change in the world and reinforcing the values of the institution as reflected in the ASU charter, with health and wellness expos held at each campus as part of the event.

“The Fall Welcome speaker has become an annual tradition of welcome week here at ASU,” said Courtney Spivak Smith, director of student connection and community at ASU. “The event offers an opportunity for students to engage in thoughtful, intellectual discussions with a celebrity guest. Changemaker Central at ASU seeks to support this generation on a lifelong journey of creating positive change in the world. It is through meaningful, empowering conversations like this that we are able to inspire that changemaking.”

The event is open to ASU students and will happen live in Tempe at Desert Financial Arena. It will also be streaming as a viewing experience at the Downtown, Polytechnic and West campuses, and as a private livestream for ASU Online students. Access the livestream here.

ASU 2023 Fall Welcome speaker, actor Winston Duke on stage with a panel of interviewers.

ASU 2022 Fall Welcome speaker, actor Winston Duke. Photo courtesy ASU EOSS

“The Fall Welcome speaker event is just the start of the welcome week. Starting the week off with a clear message of wellness is so valuable because wellness is essential to navigating college,” Woodhead said. “The event also helps students become aware of the wellness resources available to them at ASU. The combination of the incredible wisdom of Janelle Monáe, community connection and ASU wellness resources is a great way to start off the semester.”

Monáe is known worldwide for her inimitable style and visionary sound, which celebrates the spectrum of identity. Following her critically acclaimed 2018 album "Dirty Computer," Monáe recently released her album "The Age of Pleasure" in June. Ever since, the highly anticipated album has been turning 2023 into the ultimate celebration. 

Beyond music, she was recently honored with Critics Choice’s 2023 SeeHer Award and recognized as Trevor Project’s Suicide Prevention Advocate of the Year. She serves as a co-chair to Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote initiative, and has established her own initiative, Fem the Future, which aims to create opportunities for not just fellow creatives but society. 

Last year, Monáe published her first book, titled "The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories from Dirty Computer," which debuted on the New York Times Best Seller List. As an actor, she most recently starred as Cassandra Brand in Netflix’s highly awaited sequel "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" alongside Daniel Craig, Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn and Leslie Odom Jr. She is also credited for her roles in the Academy Award-nominated film "Hidden Figures" and the Academy Award-winning film "Moonlight." Other previous acting credits include "Harriet" and Disney’s "Lady and the Tramp," in which she plays Peg, the wise-cracking pound dog.

Event Information: 

When: Monday, Aug. 14

Tempe: Doors to Desert Financial Arena will open at 7 p.m.; pre-show will begin at 7:45 p.m.; speaker will begin at 8 p.m., followed by a health and wellness expo on the arena concourse.

Polytechnic: Beginning at 7 p.m., join us at the Cooley Ballrooms at the Polytechnic Student Union for an interactive livestream of the event and exciting wellness activities.  

Downtown: Beginning at 7 p.m., join us at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex at Downtown for group wellness, nutrition and sports demos, followed by an interactive livestream of the event.

West: Beginning at 6 p.m., dinner will be served in the Sun Devil Fitness Complex at West, followed by wellness activities and an interactive livestream of the event.

Livestream: https://eoss.asu.edu/clubs/fall-welcome-2023. Accessible by anyone with an ASU SSO login.

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