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Internationally Known Political Activist and Westminster Graduate To Speak On Campus For Global Leaders Program

Emerson Center

Shauna Aminath, a political activist who has been making international news for her continued fight to bring democratic elections to her home country of the Republic of Maldives, will return to her alma mater, Westminster College in Fulton, MO, March 18-22, to share her views on political activism with students and faculty.

She will give a public presentation, "Never Give Up-Winning Against the Odds" at noon, Tuesday, March 19, in the Hermann Lounge of the Hunter Activity Center on campus.

Aminath will be available for media interviews from 2 p.m.-4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 18, and from 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 19 in the Emerson Center for Leadership & Service Office located on the second floor of the Hunter Activity Center. Media representatives should call Dr. Bob Hansen to arrange a time at 573-645-3344 or 573-592-5041 or contact him by e-mail at Bob.Hansen@westminster-mo.edu.

During her week on campus, Aminath will meet with student leaders and organizations and give presentations in classes as a part of Westminster's Global Leaders in Residence program. Dedicated to developing leaders in a global community, Westminster ranks fifth in the nation among liberal arts colleges for percentage of international students on campus. Almost 16 percent of its students come from 70 different countries.

The Global Leaders in Residence program brings leaders from a variety of academic and professional fields to campus for several days to speak to classes, interact socially with students, consult with faculty and staff and give a campus-wide, public presentation on their efforts to make a difference in the world.

"She will meet with the public, eat with students and hang out with them as much as possible," says Dr. Bob Hansen, Executive Director of the Emerson Center for Leadership & Service at Westminster and one of the organizers of the visit. "We also are planning a Peacemaking Skills and Strategy Workshop during that week."

Her campus visit is being partially funded by the Public Education for Peacebuilding Support Initiative of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

Aminath was a Deputy Undersecretary in the Maldives administration of President Mohamed Nasheed, whose government was removed by a coup d'état by the current regime last February. The Nasheed government was the first administration in the history of The Maldives to be elected directly by voters, rather than the parliamentary system of the past.

Since that time, she has worked to call for a fair, democratic election in her home country. Those efforts, which have included peaceful demonstrations, have led to her arrest and imprisonment twice, once in July of last year and once this month. In both cases, teachers, staff and students at Westminster as well as friends and colleagues in her home country of The Maldives and others from all parts of the globe have worked to bring international attention to her plight so she would be released.

After her most recent arrest, Aminath sent an e-mail to Westminster Political Science Professor John Langton, who was her undergraduate advisor while she was at Westminster, which read: "Once again, thank you so much for your support. Looks like this might happen again and again and you will be so good at getting signatures and calling the U.S. embassy! I will see most of you soon. Until then, I will make sure to stay away from police."

Aminath is currently President of the Maldivian Democratic Party Youth Wing and Policy Secretary.

During the Nasheed administration she was Deputy Undersecretary and managed the administration's work on climate change, a major issue for her island homeland, which is located off the tip of India. In 2009, her organization of an underwater cabinet meeting with the Nasheed administration in scuba diving gear to demonstrate how the island nation of The Maldives could disappear if global warming melted glaciers and caused ocean levels to rise garnered world news coverage.

Aminath was featured in the acclaimed documentary "This Island President" detailing former President Nasheed's first year in office.

During her years at Westminster College, Aminath was President of the Environmentally Concerned Student Council, a founding member of EcoHouse and leader of the International Club. She was among the first students to participate in Westminster's innovative "Take A Friend Home" program where the College pays for a domestic student to spend several weeks in the home of a Westminster international student. Aminath hosted a Missouri student in her Maldives home.

She graduated from Westminster in 2008 with a degree in political science, economics and environmental science.

The Global Leaders in Residence program that is bringing Aminath to campus is under the auspices of The Churchill Institute, which also sponsors a Global Scholars in Residence program.

The United States Institute of Peace is the independent, nonpartisan conflict management center created by Congress to prevent and mitigate international conflict without resorting to violence. USIP works to save lives, increase the government's ability to deal with conflicts before they escalate, reduce government costs and enhance national security. USIP is headquartered in Washington, D.C. with offices in Baghdad, Iraq, and Kabul, Afghanistan.

As part of its congressional mandate, USIP devotes a portion of its budget to support organizations that will advance the field of conflict management by developing new techniques, establishing best practices and professionalizing the field through education and training. The Public Education for Peacebuilding Support is a program of USIP administered by the Institute of International Education.

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