Sarah Vowell, a Montana State University graduate now recognized nationally as an author, social commentator and the voice of Violet in both “Incredibles” films, will speak at MSU’s 2020 fall convocation set for Aug. 27.


Owen Booker photo used with permission


Vowell, who graduated from MSU in 1993 with a degree in modern languages and literatures, is a New York Times bestselling author of seven nonfiction books on American history and culture. Her book “Lafayette in the Somewhat United States” will be MSU’s 2020 summer read.

In addition, Vowell frequently appears as a guest on late-night comedy shows and is recognized for her wit and social observations. She was the voice of teenage superhero Violet Parr in the 2004 film “The Incredibles” as well as its 2018 sequel “Incredibles 2.”

Vowell was a contributing editor of the public radio show “This American Life” from 1996 to 2008, where she produced numerous commentaries and documentaries and toured the country in many of the program’s live shows. She is a contributing op-ed writer for The New York Times and has been a columnist for, Time, San Francisco Weekly, GQ and Spin, among others. Vowell was the president of the board of 826NYC, a nonprofit tutoring and writing center for students aged 6-18 in Brooklyn. She is still a member of its advisory board, along with its sister organization in Los Angeles, 826LA.

MSU President Waded Cruzado said she believes Vowell’s personal story will inspire the incoming freshman class as well as members of the MSU and Bozeman community.

“Sara Vowell’s story gives voice to what happens when talent and curiosity meet access to a land-grant education,” Cruzado said. “Montana State is hugely proud of her many accomplishments, and we are overjoyed to have her return to speak to our freshmen students.”

While MSU convocation is free, the general public must reserve tickets. Tickets will be available at the  beginning of June at the Bobcat Ticket Office and all Ticketswest outlets.

MSU’s Convocation is the formal welcome of the incoming class, where the university focuses attention on the start of the academic, intellectual and personal journey of first-year students. Convocation demonstrates the support of the university and community to help students reach the goal of becoming the graduating class of 2024. Vowell’s lecture will be part of MSU’s 15th convocation

Her lecture is free and open to the public.
Join us at MSU Convocation to celebrate your entrance into Montana State University.


  • Tickets NOT Available at this time. CHECK BACK SOON!

    Convocation is free and open to the public, however members of the community must obtain a ticket through one of the ticket outlets listed. Members of the new freshmen class do not need tickets. Tickets are available beginning June 11 through all Bobcat Ticket outlets including:

Event Information

 Brick Breeden Fieldhouse
Handicapped accessible

Thursday, Aug. 27, 2019

7:30 p.m.

Doors open at 6:30pm
Brick Breeden Fieldhouse

Tara Westover, whose bestselling memoir about the transformative power of being educated will speak at MSU’s 2019 Convocation on Aug. 22 in Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.

Westover is a historian and writer known for her courageous personal journey that is detailed in her memoir “Educated.” Westover was born to survivalist parents who opposed public education and grew up near Buck’s Peak in southeastern Idaho. She was not allowed to attend school, have a birth certificate or see a doctor. Yet she taught herself enough mathematics, grammar and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University when she was 16. She graduated magna cum laude from BYU in 2008 and won the Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned a doctorate in history from Trinity College, Cambridge, and has been a visiting fellow at Harvard University.

Tara Westover, whose bestselling memoir “Educated” is about her transformation from the daughter of survivalists who was kept out of school into a Cambridge doctoral graduate, will speak at Montana State University’s 2019 Convocation at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. Westover’s lecture is free and open to the public, but advance tickets are required. They will be available June 10. Supplied photo by Lorentz Gullachsen.

“Educated” has been at the top of many bestseller lists for more than a year including The New York Times’ list, where it has been on or near the top of the nonfiction bestseller list for 60 weeks. “Educated” has also won many book awards, including being a finalist for the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence.

Common Reading

In preparation for Montana State University's 2019 convocation, students will read "Educated"

Master Class

The Master Class with Tara Westover will allow students the opportunity to interact with this incredible speaker and author in a more personalized, smaller group setting.

Application to Participate in the Master Class with Tara Westover, August 22, 2019 4-5 PM, Procrastinator Theater SUB, Deadline to apply: Sunday August 11, 2019 10 PM MST”

The Master Class application is open to all MSU students, including students in Gallatin College and the Graduate School. 

Convocation Guide

Explore information about Tara Westover and the common read “Educated” on the MSU Library 2019 Convocationpage.


Members of MSU’s incoming freshman class have reserved seats and will not need tickets to attend the event.

More Information

For more information, please contact:

Provost Robert Mokwa
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

Disabled students wishing to request an accommodation may contact 406-994-2824.