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Campus News / News

Syrian Refugee and Musician Mariela Shaker to Perform and Speak at Rockford University

04/05/2023 12:36 pm

For Immediate Release

April 5, 2023

Shaker is an accomplished Syrian violist and award-winning refugee advocate who survived the war in her home country, Syria. 

ROCKFORD, Ill. — Musician and award-winning refugee advocate Mariela Shaker will visit Rockford University this Friday, April 7, as part of our Rockford University Forum Series. Shaker’s forum will be Friday at 7 p.m. at the Fisher Chapel on campus at 5050 E. State St. in Rockford.

She has performed and spoken at many prestigious events and at places such as Harvard University and Carnegie Hall. 

Shaker will be at RU’s campus Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. in Clark Arts Center, Room 210, where she will visit with Music History II students. Afterward, Shaker will have a break from 10 to 11 a.m. to chat with the media.

Local media is invited to campus at 9 a.m. Friday at Clark Arts Center. 


About Shaker:

Mariela Shaker survived the war in Syria and the attack on the University of Aleppo (located in Aleppo, Syria) where she was studying business in 2013. Shaker then fled to the U.S. to study music at Monmouth College in New Jersey.

Once she was here in the U.S., Shaker was unable to return home, and in only four years, she finished her bachelor’s degree at Monmouth and a master’s at DePaul University with full-tuition scholarships. 

Being a refugee in the U.S., Mariela feels safe, but worries about her family and friends left behind. And more than another, though fascinating refugee story, Mariela stands for drive and determination and empowering young women.

Shaker can be found on her Instagram.


Forum Series

The Rockford University Forum Series presents speakers in a variety of disciplines who have achieved success both nationally and locally, and performers of stature in the arts. The Forum Series’ central programming focus is geared toward students, while also seeking to connect campus to the local community. Lectures and performances are concerned with intellectual, social, and cultural matters of general interest to deepen and broaden students’ education at Rockford University and enhance the rich culture of Rockford.

Forum Series presenters and events cover a broad spectrum of scope and genre. Events have included the Tibetan lamas from Drepung Loseling Monastery and their creation of a mandala—a sacred sand painting; Holocaust survivor Zev Kedem, the compelling speaker who worked with Steven Spielberg on the movie Schindler’s List; Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on a Central American Peace Plan; quadriplegic Olympic bronze medal rugby player Mark Zupan; film documentarian Barbara Martinez Jitner, who produced “La Frontera;” Davar Ardalan, author of “My Name is Iran;” and traditional University events like the President’s Opening Convocation, Charter Day Convocation, and theater productions.


To RSVP, please contact the Communications Department at by 8 a.m. April 7.


Sara Myers

RU Marketing & Communications