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In 2012, GiGi Lucas had an epiphany: She took a surf lesson and realized surfing was the joyful, peaceful activity missing in her life. Now, she’s sharing her love of the sport with young women of color through her nonprofit SurfearNEGRA, whose mission is to bring cultural and gender diversity to surfing.

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Beyond the pandemic, social unrest defined 2020. It started on the very first day of the year in Hong Kong, where protesters filled the streets in opposition to China’s proposed extradition law.

Learn what makes a social movement work

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According to the American Lung Association, nearly half of all Americans live in counties that have unhealthy levels of air pollution. Northwestern alumni and faculty break down how air pollution travels from smokestacks and tailpipes into the atmosphere, how it negatively impacts our health, and what must change to improve Americans’ access to clean air.

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John Rogers doesn’t just lead the field of stretchable bioelectronics — he founded it. He has invented a mind-boggling number of devices, pushing boundaries to extreme limits and creating electronics that are impossibly thin, flexible, stretchy and smart — blurring the distinction between body and device.

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After a number of parts in “big-swing comedies,” Kathryn Hahn ’95 moved to more substantial roles that cemented her place as a sought-after star. It’s clear now that she’s in love with her work: the deep dives into character, the exploration and messiness each role brings, the dedication to her fellow actors — and the creative magic that results.

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As America grapples with a history of injustice and in light of the recent attention given to the Black Lives Matter movement, a historical and educational reckoning is occurring that has been decades in the making. Northwestern alumni and faculty are part of a growing chorus of teachers, students and lawmakers reminding us that Black history — and the histories of other marginalized communities — are as American as apple pie and should be accurately and contextually taught to all.

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Acclaimed poet and Northwestern alumna Angela Jackson is Illinois' fifth poet laureate. Previous poet laureates include Carl Sandburg and Jackson's idol, Gwendolyn Brooks.

Read more about the Illinois poet laureate

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Emergency medicine physician and former Wildcats offensive lineman Ryan Padgett ’97 was one of the first healthcare workers in Washington state to test positive for COVID-19. His harrowing story has become both a symbol of hope and a cautionary tale about the ­­­dangers of the global pandemic.

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In the early days of the pandemic, Whitney Owens quickly pivoted the Cincinnati Museum Center’s three institutions — the Duke Energy Children's Museum, Cincinnati History Museum and Museum of Natural History & Science — to virtual programming.

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Artist Ryan Tova Katz painted a mural at 829 Foster St. in Evanston in honor of the 2020 Northwestern graduates.

See the completed mural

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