Actress and activist Rosario Dawson spoke at fall’s first University Lecture Series event on Sept. 19, in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom. Her lecture, entitled “I Vote Because…,” promoted student involvement in humanitarian and political activism, encouraging students to “be the change.”
“It’s so nice to say; Everyone always agrees. But do we actually do it?” Dawson said. “Who here feels that they are trying desperately to be the change they want to see in the world?”
Dawson’s lecture strayed from her planned lecture, as she went more in-depth with the upcoming Billion Rising movement, in February, and individual importance in the voting process.
“You are vitally important to the process,” she said, “and I’m counting on you, at the very least, to take on how powerful you are.”
Dawson also spoke to students about her transition from actress to activist, and her organization, Voto Latino, founded after the 2004 presidential election.
“As of March 2003, Latinos became the largest minority in the country, and we saw the ‘Latino wave’ coming in a really, really big way,” she said. “The reason we wanted to participate in this wasn’t just because I have a Latino background, but because this was an American issue.”
Following the lecture, the floor was open to a general Q-and-A session with the audience. Afterwards, Dawson stayed at the Marshall Student Center to sign autographs and take pictures.
USF student Kristin Hill enjoyed what Dawson had to say at the lecture, and was excited to meet her afterwards for an autograph.
“It makes you want to go out and do stuff,” Hill said. “She makes you feel motivated and inspired.”
Dawson made her film debut at 16 with 1995’s controversial “Kids,” and achieved mainstream popularity with 2005’s musical blockbuster “Rent,” and the neo-noir thriller “Sin City.”
Future Lecture Series speakers will include famous wildlife conservationist and TV personality Jeff Corwin (Nov. 11), and Bill and Giuliana Rancic (Oct. 9), of “The Apprentice” and “Giuliana and Bill” fame.
The University Lecture Series is a popular campus feature, and has brought many celebrities and public figures to speak at USF since its conception in 1986, such as Jesse Jackson, Bill Nye and Matisyahu.