Tara Westover captured the world’s attention with her bestselling memoir “Educated,” detailing her life growing up in rural Idaho in a survivalist family. Now, the Moss Arts Center presents a conversation with the author in an exclusive event livestreamed from her home on Saturday, February 6, at 7:30 p.m.

With no birth certificate and no formal schooling, Westover decided to educate herself when she was 17, escaping her family to eventually earn a doctorate from Cambridge University. Her redemptive story shows how a young woman's unquenchable thirst for knowledge leads her to break ties from an early life of hardship and brutality. She explores the tension between loyalty to one's family and loyalty to oneself.

Westover will be interviewed by Amy Azano, associate professor in Virginia Tech's School of Education, and answer audience members' questions. Azano's research interests include rural literacies and the literacy needs of special populations, particularly those in rural communities. The event is presented in partnership with the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, University Libraries, Center for Humanities, and Department of English.

Ticketholders have access to the “HomeStage” series performance as it happens, and for seven days following the event.

Born to a father opposed to public education, Westover spent her days working in his Southeastern Idaho junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist and midwife. Taught to read by an older brother, her education was erratic and incomplete, and she was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom.

After that first encounter with education she pursued learning for a decade, graduating magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008, subsequently winning a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned a master’s degree from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 2009 and was a visiting fellow at Harvard University in 2010. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a Ph.D. in history in 2014.

In 2018 she published her first book, “Educated,” which explores her struggle to reconcile her desire for education and autonomy with her desire to be loyal to her family. The book was an instant commercial and critical success, debuting at number one on the New York Times bestseller list, where it remained for more than two years. To date, “Educated” has sold more than 7 million copies and has been translated into 45 languages. President Barack Obama included it on his annual reading list, calling it "remarkable," and Bill Gates listed it as one of his favorite books of the year. For her staggering impact, Time magazine named Westover one of the most influential people of 2018.

Related engagement event

Westover will participate in a private discussion with a group of first-generation Virginia Tech students about shared experiences and aspirations in their pursuit of education.

Ticket information

Tickets are $10 for general public and free for Virginia Tech students. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

The Spring Fan(fare) Pass provides access to all “HomeStage” events offered between January 1 and May 31, 2021, guaranteeing a minimum of eight performances. While providing added support for the center, Spring Fan(fare) pass holders also get exclusive information through regular Fan(fare) Insider emails and are the first to know about new events added to the schedule. 

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