Syrian refugee to discuss civil liberties through her music and journey to the United States

Mariela Shaker

Syrian refugee Mariela Shaker will perform and speak on the topic of civil liberties at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville on Monday, Nov. 22. Shaker was originally scheduled to perform at UW-Platteville in March of 2020, but the event was cancelled due to COVID-19. Shaker, who fled the war in Syria, is a motivational speaker, violinist and professor at Monmouth College. She was granted asylum in the United States in 2013 and has since traveled across the world sharing her story. 

Shaker’s presentation will be held in the Richard & Helen Brodbeck Concert Hall in the Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

“My talk will tackle freedom of expression by using music as a tool for peace building and conflict resolution,” said Shaker. “I believe when you lose your home, music is all that is left to tell the story of your suffering people and country. Music will humanize the number of victims we hear on the news as each one has a story, family, relatives and parents.”

Dr. Robert Snyder, professor of communication in the School of Business, received a grant from the Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation. Through the grant he was able to invite Shaker to campus. The mission of the MCSII is to promote the study and discussion of civil liberties. 

“I hope this event serves as a reminder of how precious our freedoms are as citizens of the United States,” said Snyder. “When you hear a story such as Mariela’s, you realize in many ways how fortunate you have it.”

The event will feature multimedia elements. Following Shaker’s presentation, she will perform three songs that will reflect the tone and emotional content that she’ll be sharing.

“What makes the event unique is we have a performer who is using her artist voice through music to raise awareness about a social issue,” said Snyder. 

Shaker received the Daily Point of Light Award from President George H.W. Bush and was named Champion of Change for World Refugees by President Barack Obama. She has spoken and performed at several institutions, including the Kennedy Center, United Nations, Arab American Institute and Lincoln Center.

To learn more about Shaker, visit, Face coverings are required in all university buildings.