Author Rebecca Skloot was on campus during January to share insights on her best-selling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. To a packed Covenant Fine Arts Center audience and many more watching and listening remotely, Skloot told of her more-than-decade-long project of telling the story behind HeLa, the immortal cells taken from Henrietta Lacks that changed the world of science.

It was in a high school classroom that Skloot’s interest in the cells first was piqued. A brief mention of the history-changing cells was all that was needed to create a passion in Skloot that resulted not only in the 2010 book, named one of the best of the year, but also in her career as a science writer.

Her passion to follow bits of information that make her say, “Wait, what?” has resulted in numerous articles in high-profile publications, she said.

Like Skloot, there were 14 other presenters at this year’s January Series, each as passionate about their particular area of expertise.

Sheryl WuDunn, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, implored people to make a difference in the fight against oppression of women worldwide. Dwight Armstrong, CEO of the Future Farmers of America organization, highlighted the challenge of feeding the rapidly growing world population. Capt. Scotty Smiley, the Army’s first active-duty blind officer, reminded that God uses every moment in our lives to prepare us for future experiences.

“The January Series is an amazing opportunity to share with our community both in west Michigan and far beyond the great things being learned on campus at Calvin every day,” said Kristi Potter, January Series director.  “During the series we are challenged, inspired and learn from experts in a wide variety of fields. Sometimes we are even challenged to rethink our own views on a topic and discern what God is saying to us.”