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The Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) Distinguished Lecture Series will continue with four performances currently slated for the 2016/17 school year. Upcoming events are free and open to the public and include Comedian Derrick Tennant, The Amazing Race’s Jet and Cord McCoy, Astronaut and Navy Commander Dr. John Herrington, and finally World-famous Animal Scientist and Autism Self-Advocate Dr. Temple Grandin. Co-sponsored by NEO and the NEO Development Foundation, the Distinguished Lecture Series hosted its inaugural lecture earlier this year with help from the Miami Arts and Humanities Council. Spoken Word Poet Sarah Kay was the featured guest lecturer in honor of National Poetry Month. “NEO, the NEO Foundation and local partners like the Miami Arts and Humanities Council are in a unique position to bring arts, culture and entertainment to the Miami area,” said NEO President Dr. Jeff Hale. “The newly created NEO lecture series, funded through the Oklahoma State Regents endowment funds, will help the college attract national and international level talent to the campus of NEO A&M College.”

Comedian Derrick Tennant will perform on August 23, 2016 at 7 p.m. as part of the NEO Welcome Week activities. Tennant was a promising athlete until an injury left him in a coma. Following brain surgery, rehab, and life in a wheelchair, he eventually regained the use of his legs. Tennant performs “bleepfree” comedy and inspirational talks. This free event will take place in the Fine Arts Auditorium.

Brothers Jet and Cord McCoy will perform on Sept. 21, 2016 at 7 p.m. also in the Fine Arts Auditorium. Known for their second place finish on season 16, their sixth place finish in season 18, and their fifth place finish in season 24 of the CBS Hit series, The Amazing Race, these sweet-natured Oklahoma natives captured America’s attention. Apart from their stints on the Amazing Race, the McCoy brothers have made waves in both junior and professional rodeo competitions.

Dr. John Herrington, retired commander of the United States Navy and NASA astronaut will speak on November 30, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. in the Calcagno Family Ballroom. Dr. Herrington is an Oklahoma Native of the Chickasaw Tribe and was the first Native American to walk in space. After serving as a Naval Aviator for over a decade, he was selected to the Astronaut Support Personnel Team in 1996.

Finally, Dr. Temple Grandin, world-famous animal scientist, TED Talks speaker, and autism self-advocate will speak on April 20, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Auditorium. Author of several books, including Animals in Translation, Thinking in Pictures, and her most recent best-seller The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum, Dr. Grandin has built a career as one of the most successful livestock-handling equipment designers. Dr. Grandin is also an advocate for greater understanding of the autism spectrum. Encouraging flexibility in education, she notes that many children and adults with autism exhibit uneven skills. “Don’t hold these math geniuses back. You’re going to have to give them special ed in reading…but let them go ahead in math,” she mentioned in The Autistic Brain.

The free events are supported by the Oklahoma State Regents’ Endowment Trust Fund. The fund was established in 1988 to strengthen academic programs and enhance the quality of higher education in Oklahoma. The lecture series is designed to bring nationally known speakers to campus who are relevant in politics, science, literature, and popular culture. These events are sure to enlighten, entertain, and inform. For more information about the Distinguished Lecture Series, contact the NEO Development Foundation at 918-540-6250.

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