Author of Award Winning Book "Educated" Tara Westover to Speak at Viterbo University Sept. 12

Sept. 3, 2019

Contact Rick Kyte at 608-796-3704 or rlkyte@viterbo.eduor Nicole Van Ert at 608-796-3616 or


LA CROSSE, Wis. – Tara Westover, author of the bestselling and award-winning memoir Educated, will open the Viterbo University D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership’s fall lecture series at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre.

Westover was 17 years old the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists opposed to public education in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter, she salvaged in her father’s junkyard. Her father forbade hospitals, so Westover never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education.

Westover was taught to read by an older brother. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her. She pursued learning for a decade, graduating magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008 and subsequently winning a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an M.Phil. from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she earned a Ph.D. in history in 2014.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a story that gets to the heart of what education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it. Westover argues that education is not just about job training, but a powerful tool of self-invention.

The book spent 32 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list and won numerous prestigious literary awards. It generated outstanding reviews, including “A heartbreaking, heartwarming, best-in-years memoir,” from USA Today, “One of the most talked-about and critically acclaimed books of the year,” from PBS NewsHour/NY Times Book Club, and “An amazing story, and truly inspiring. It’s even better than you’ve heard,” said Bill Gates.

The presentation is free and open to the public. No tickets are necessary, but seating is limited. For a full schedule of D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership events, visit