Visions and Ventures Symposium to Address Grit and Exploration

John Quinones, ABC News Veteran, Visions and Ventures Symposium
Trace Lysette, actress, "Transparent," Visions and Ventures Symposium
Ashanti Johnson, CEO/Superintendent of Cirrus Academy, Visions and Ventures Symposium
ABC News veteran and host of "What Would You Do?" John Quinones will kick off this year's Visions & Ventures Symposium with his story about overcoming obstacles through perseverance.
Actress Trace Lysette, best known for her role as Shea on Amazon's Golden Globe Award-winning series, "Transparent," will discuss "Living an Authentic Life" at the annual Visions & Ventures Symposium.
Ashanti Johnson, an accomplished oceanographer will close this year's annual Visions & Ventures Symposium. She has been recognized by Essence Magazine as "15 Women Who are Paving the Way and Paying it Forward."

An ABC news veteran, an actress, and an accomplished oceanographer will headline Nebraska Wesleyan University’s annual Visions & Ventures Symposium on September 25-26.

This year’s theme, “Stories of Grit and Exploration,” highlights three differing success stories of individuals who have overcome life’s obstacles through perseverance. The symposium opens Tuesday, September 25 with John Quiñones, ABC News veteran and host of “What Would You Do?”. His lecture, “Finding Your Way in the World Through Grit and Passion,” will highlight his life from migrant farm worker to successful journalist. On Wednesday, September 26, Trace Lysette will present her lecture, “Living an Authentic Life.” Lysette is an actress and advocate best known for her role of “Shea” on Amazon’s critically-acclaimed series, “Transparent.” The symposium closes that evening with Ashanti Johnson, CEO/Superintendent of Cirrus Academy, a statewide STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) charter school system in Georgia. Her professional development and diversity-focused activities facilitate the advancement of students representing diverse socioeconomic, cultural, gender, racial and academic backgrounds. Her lecture is titled, “’I Know I Can’t’ to ‘Standing in the Hall of Fame’: Lessons Learned Along a Young Girl’s Journey to the Ocean.”

All lectures will be held in O’Donnell Auditorium, located in the Rogers Center for Fine Arts at 50thStreet and Huntington Ave. The lectures are free and open to the public. 

The following is a complete schedule of events:

Tuesday, September 25 —7 p.m., John Quiñones, ABC News veteran, host of “What Would You Do?”

  • A lifetime of never taking no for an answer took John Quiñones from migrant farm work and poverty to more than 30 years at ABC News and the anchor desk at 20/20 and Primetime. Along the way, he broke through barriers, won the highest accolades, and became a role model for many. As host and creator of “What Would You Do?” the highly-rated, hidden camera ethical dilemma newsmagazine, Quiñones has become the face of doing the right thing to millions of fans.

Wednesday, September 26 —10 a.m., Trace Lysette, actress

  • Trace Lysette is an actress and advocate best known for her role of “Shea” on Amazon’s Golden Globe Award-winning series, “Transparent.” From a young age, Lysette knew she was different and would eventually need to face this “otherness” that would not let go. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s in a small Ohio town, she began her journey into an unaccepting world that led to obstacles, adversity, and eventually rock bottom — when she lost her will to live. Lysette speaks about the influencers in her life, both good and bad, that pushed her to continue her gender transition and how she picked herself back up to live authentically as the woman she is today.

Wednesday, September 26 —7 p.m., Ashanti Johnson, CEO/Superintendent of Cirrus Academy, a statewide STEAM charter school in Georgia

  • Ashanti Johnson received her bachelor’s degree in marine science and her Ph.D. in oceanography from Texas A&M University. Her research areas include environmental aquatic radiogeochemistry, professional development of students and early career scientists, and STEM diversity-focused initiatives. She has been recognized with a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring at the White House, and in February 2018 was recognized by Essence Magazineas one of “STEM’s New Guard” in an article highlighting “15 Women Who are Paving the Way and Paying it Forward.”


Students, faculty and staff are also invited to participate in several interactive activities on Wednesday, September 26, including:

The Imitation Game (film) 
1-3 p.m., Olin B Lecture Hall

“The Imitation Game” follows Alan Turing as he leads a motley crew of scholars, linguists, chess champions, and intelligence officers in cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany’s World War II Enigma machine, potentially saving millions of lives by helping to shorten the war. The film also depicts Turing’s tragic fall from grace when he was convicted of homosexuality — a crime in post-war Britain. Rated PG-13.

Bounce Back! Learning Skills That Help Build Resilience
Session 1: 1-2:30 p.m., Session 2: 3-4:30 p.m., Callen Conference Center

In this hands-on, active-learning session, participants will learn and practice research-based skills that promote resilience. Led by Randy Ernst, assistant professor of education, Nebraska Wesleyan University

Fact or Myth? What's Up with the American Immigration System? 
Session 1: 1-2:30 p.m., Session 2: 3-4:30 p.m., Cochrane-Woods Library Learning Commons

Through this interactive activity, participants will learn what is myth and what is fact with our current immigration system, including executive orders and policies. Participants will explore the challenges newcomers face immigrating to the United States whether as refuges or immigrants. Participants will also examine our role as an ally or member of the receiving community. Led by Christa Yoakum, Nebraska is Home Coordinator-Immigrants & Communities Program, Nebraska Appleseed

Campus Dialogues 
Session 1: 1-2 p.m., Session 2: 3-4 p.m., locations across campus

Explore ideas of the symposium through dialogues with small groups of students. Students who register online to participate in a dialogue should go to their assigned classroom.

4:45-5:45 p.m., Taylor Commons (rain location: 2ndfloor of library)

All-levels campus yoga practice will help you explore how to create resilience and balance in your body, mind and spirit. Bring a yoga mat if you have one. Yoga Club has 30 mats to share. Mats are also available for checkout at the Weary Center front desk.