Author of Common Reader to Keynote University Freshman Convocation

Aug. 26, 2019

CONTACT: Dr. Ann Fry, 806-651-2358,

COPY BY: Brittany Castillo, 806-651-2682,


Author of Common Reader to Keynote University Freshman Convocation

CANYON, Texas— Abdi Nor Iftin, author of this year’s common reader “Call Me American,” will be the keynote speaker at West Texas A&M University’s Freshman Convocation at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5 at the First United Bank Center. Abdi Nor Iftin, author of this year's common reader "Call Me American."

The event is free and open to the public. Seating begins at 4 p.m.

Freshman Convocation is conducted each year as the official academic welcome to the freshman class. The event is modeled after commencement with faculty in regalia and designed to set a tone for academic success. The University began conducting the annual event in 2007, and speakers throughout the years have included Elie Wiesel, Khaled Hosseini, Kelsey Timmerman, Doc Hendley and more. This year’s convocation is honoring the WT Class of 2023. 

As a child in war-town Mogadishu, Iftin learned English by watching action movies. When U.S. Marines landed to take on the warlords, Abdi cheered the arrival of these real-life American action heroes. Sporting hip-hop clothes and dance moves, he became known as “Abdi American.” But when radical Islamists took control in 2006, it became dangerous to celebrate Western culture. Instead, Abdi risked his life posting secret dispatches to NPR. As life in Somalia great more dangerous, he fled to Kenya.

In an amazing stroke of luck, he won entrance to the U.S. in the annual visa lottery, though his route to America—ending in a harrowing sequence of events that nearly stranded him in Nairobi—did not come easily. Now he is a proud resident of Maine and is on the path to citizenship.

For more information about WT’s Freshman Convocation, contact Dr. Ann Fry at 806-651-2358.

*Photo credit: Michael Lionstar