UNCP announces 2023-2024 Distinguished Speaker Series lineup

Amber Midthunder

UNC Pembroke has announced the Distinguished Speaker Series lineup for 2023-2024. This year’s programming features a dynamic group of inspiring, engaging and entertaining guests, including Indigenous actress Amber Midthunder and her mother, Angelique Midthunder, an Emmy-nominated casting director.

The series features:

  • Col. Reginald McClam, Col. Carlos Berdecia, Dr. Joanna Hersey and Jessica Salinas, September 7, 6:30 p.m. at University Center Annex;
  • Amber Midthunder and Angelique Midthunder, November 6, 7 p.m. at James A. Thomas Hall; and
  • Brigadier Gen. Allen Jamerson, February 21, 2024, 6:30 p.m. at University Center Annex

The Office of Campus Engagement presents the series. Tickets are $10 for general admission and free for faculty, staff and students with a UNCP ID. For ticket information, contact Campus Engagement and Leadership at 910.521.6482. The sponsors for the event are the Admissions Office and the American Indian Heritage Center.

“We are excited about this year’s series which will have a strong emphasis on leadership and deliberative dialogue,” said Abdul Ghaffar, assistant Dean of Students.

“The series will include major speakers and some intimate fireside chats with the opportunity to engage in conversation with panelists. We are tremendously excited to welcome UNCP heroes back to campus and excited for our current students to see the possibilities for themselves now and in the future. Amber Midthunder is a superstar in the making. She and her mother Angelique will bring some incredible insight into working in Hollywood as Indigenous women.” 

McClam is the commanding officer for the Basic School at Camp Barrett, Quantico, Virginia. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant after graduating from UNCP, where he was a track team member.

Berdecia––also a UNCP graduate––is the commander of the 437 Operations Group, Joint Base in Charleston, S.C., the largest C-17A Operations Group in the U.S. Air Force. Berdecia was the captain of UNCP’s baseball team.

Hersey, associate dean of Student Success and music faculty member, is a veteran and former tubist with the U.S. Coast Guard. She has performed across the country as a soloist and clinician at numerous state functions for visiting dignitaries and royalty and for three U.S. presidents. The September 6 fireside chat is part of Military Appreciation Week.

Salinas, also a UNCP alumna, is a combat veteran spouse, caregiver, certified veteran support specialist and a QPR suicide prevention gatekeeper. She works with NC Serves Central Carolina, connecting service members, veterans and their families to resources addressing housing, employment and benefits. She plans to return to UNCP to pursue an MSW in 2024.

Amber Midthunder, an enrolled member of the Fort Peck Sioux tribe, is known for her roles in the FX series Legion and The CW series Roswell, New Mexico. She starred as Naru in Prey, the fifth installment of the Predator franchise. Her mother, Angelique, received an Emmy nomination for casting the 2009 Lifetime movie Georgia O'Keeffe and cast several Indigenous performers for Reservation Dogs.

The Midthunders will be featured guests of Deep Roots, Strong Ties: A Day of Indigenous Excellence in collaboration with the Lumbee Tribe and the Office of Admissions, which is being held in celebration of Native American Heritage Month.

Jamerson, a two-time UNCP graduate, entered the U.S. Air Force in 1986 and was commissioned as an AFROTC distinguished graduate. Following several domestic and international security police assignments, he served as chief of security police for Clear Air Station, Alaska and later served as commander for numerous posts. 

Jamerson’s fireside chat will be among several Black History Month events celebrated at UNCP.

The Distinguished Speaker Series debuted in 2000 and has brought notable celebrities to the university, including Spike Lee, Dick Vitale, Gabby Douglas, James Earl Jones and Henry Winkler. A record 2,600 people came to hear Maya Angelou speak.

For more information about the series, please visit uncp.edu/dss.