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Monday December 5th

Q&A with 2016 commencement speaker Anne-Marie Slaughter

<p>Anne-Marie Slaughter</p>
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Anne-Marie Slaughter

Anne-Marie Slaughter is UNC’s spring 2016 commencement speaker. Slaughter is known for her work as an advocate for gender equality in the workplace while serving in leadership roles in the public and private sectors. Staff writer Jack Davis talked with her about her past and her excitement at being named commencement speaker.

THE DAILY TAR HEEL: What are your thoughts about being chosen as this year’s commencement speaker?

ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: I’m honored. I’m particularly pleased for a couple of reasons. One, because of your new (chancellor). I met her while she was at Dartmouth and was just enormously impressed. So, when I got this invitation, I thought what a pleasure it would be to be there with Carol as your chancellor.

DTH: Do you have any thoughts about what you will speak about?

AMS: It will be something on the theme of how to think about both your career and your family life, however you define family — combining meaningful work and meaningful time with people you love.

DTH: What is your connection to North Carolina?

AMS: I have a particular connection to UNC. My family is from Lincolnton, N.C., since 1791 through my grandmother, who was born in Lincolnton in 1902. I grew up on stories about Lincolnton, and her father was the chief justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

DTH: A lot of your work has to do with balancing career ambitions with personal well-being. What has that looked like in your life?

AMS: That perfect balance, that Aristotelian golden mean — I’ve never obtained anything close to that. But fitting together things that you value highly in ways that makes room for both is something I strive for.

DTH: How is your work relevant to the average college student?

AMS: I would say any young person who is thinking about what they want to do and achieve and experience in their lives needs to be thinking about these issues.

DTH: You have a range of degrees from the nation’s top universities. What are your thoughts about education and its importance?

AMS: I often say that I was good at school, so I stayed in school til I was 30. I don’t recommend that path for anyone today. Jobs are changing so fast, and opportunities are changing so fast that I actually recommend people get in the workforce as quickly as possible. That’s the biggest change I see in higher education as opposed to college or graduate school. Those are just installments on what will be a lifetime of learning.

DTH: You’ve written quite a bit about the concept of equality — equality within the workplace, in the home, etc. What is your definition of equality?

AMS: Equality is when people have equal life chances, which is to say, they have equal opportunity to live up to their full potential — whatever that is, and wherever that takes them. That’s true for men and women, for people of color and white people, and should be true for all Americans wherever they may start out. That’s a matter of human rights and morality and also a matter of a healthy thriving society.

DTH: Any last thoughts?

AMS: Well...I think we all know why God went to Carolina. I think everyone there will understand that riddle.

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