HomeOn CampusGloria Estefan Captivates and Inspires

Gloria Estefan Captivates and Inspires

Seven-time Grammy Award winner Gloria Estefan delivered the 2024 Mary and Louis Fusco Distinguished Lecture at Lyman Center on April 27, 2024, and her arrival on campus was nothing short of a spectacle. A convergence of music enthusiasts, scholars, and fans spanning generations and cultures came out to show support and hear from the international superstar as she shared stories of her life.

Since 1999, the Fusco Distinguished Lecture Series has been a major intellectual event in the greater New Haven area, each year bringing a political, social, or creative leader to campus. 

The evening began with a press conference, where Estefan met with students and others and told a bit of her life story and took questions from those in attendance. Estefan said that from the beginning, “Music was just my escape, my go-to. At eight years old I started learning guitar so I could accompany myself.”

She went on to reflect upon her musical inspirations and favorite performance, her euphoric return to music after a life-altering accident, and her proudest achievement: receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2015 from President Barack Obama.

Estefan encouraged students to pursue their passions and education despite challenges and societal expectations. “It [music] has always been my saving grace,” she said. “My warm place, my comfortable place. My happy place. Let it be yours too.”

Estefan’s meeting with students was followed by the main event — A Conversation with Gloria Estefan – which took place on the Lyman Center stage. She was interviewed by Briceyda Landaverde, a reporter for NBC Connecticut, and took questions from the audience.

The vision of the Fuscos in supporting the Distinguished Lecture Series was to inspire the community, and Estefan’s appearance at Southern did just that. Antona Smith, also known as Ms. Top Owl, appreciated the Fuscos’ vision of inviting influential people of diverse backgrounds to campus. “Tonight with Gloria Estefan was wonderful,” Smith said. “She connected across cultures and across generations, and it was absolutely fantastic.”

Acquisitions Librarian Kari Swanson expressed her gratitude for Estefan’s presence, highlighting the convergence of music and philanthropy, adding another significant layer to the evening. “Gloria was so funny and warm and entertaining, and I’m glad we can do this event to raise funds for scholarships,” Swanson said.

During a post-lecture reception in the Adanti Student Center Ballroom, guests buzzed with excitement. The ballroom was decorated with a tropical theme, and university catering served food to match. The SCSU Latin Jazz Ensemble completed the ambiance.

For reception guest Martha Morales, attending Estefan’s lecture was more than just a night of enlightenment; it was her daughter’s birthday gift and a dream come true, as she also got her two Gloria Estefan Barbies signed.

“I’ve been listening to her songs since I was a little girl,” Morales said. “Even after her accident, I went to see her when she started doing tours again, and my daughters gave me the opportunity to meet her. It has been amazing. I cannot ask for more,” she added.

Amidst the crowd, Kimberly Wood found a personal connection to Estefan’s music as she celebrated her 30th wedding anniversary with her husband.

“It was amazing,” Wood said. “She’s very inspiring. My husband and I just celebrated our 30th anniversary, and our wedding song was ‘Here We Are.’ So [Estefan] wrote a little autograph to say happy anniversary.”


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