CCAC graduate embarks on new path following meetings with Dalai Lama and Chinese activist

Theresa Osborne Ward and Patsy Williamson with Dalai Lama
Theresa Osborne Ward and Patsy Williamson with Dr Yang Jianli
Article by: CCAC Public Relations

PITTSBURGH—A chance meeting with a pro-democracy Chinese activist in the gift shop of an Indian hotel resulted in an invitation to meet the Dalai Lama and, ultimately, a new educational path and passion for CCAC graduate Theresa Osborne Ward.

Ward, of Greenfield, initially traveled to India in January with other CCAC Honors students as part of an international study tour. On an evening visit to the hotel gift shop in Delhi, where the owner was teaching her Hindi, she met Dr. Yang Jianli, president of thepro-democracy group Initiatives for China. A “deep discussion” between the two prompted Jianli, a survivor of Tiananmen Square, to invite Osborne to return to India in the spring to attend a human rights conference and to meet a friend of his, the Dalai Lama.

Upon doing some research, Ward knew she couldn’t pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Accompanied by CCAC English Professor Patsy Williamson, Ward returned in late April to India, where the women attended a four-day human rights conference that included presentations on the oppression of ethnic and religious minorities in China. The emphasis was on education, grassroots organizing and non-violent action. They both found the conference to be very enlightening.

Ward and Williamson were also impressed by their visit with the Dalai Lama. The spiritual leader of Tibet spoke about the importance of secular ethics in education, and Ward took his message to heart. The CCAC graduate, having recently earned an associate degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences, is pursuing her studies through a parallel program with the University of Pittsburgh. Upon returning from India, she changed her major to Political Science and Educational Leadership.

On June 3 and 4 Ward will attend events organized by Initiatives for China in Washington, D.C.; the meeting will also commemorate the 27th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. While there, Ward plans on networking with the Students for a Free Tibet organization.

For more information about Initiatives for China, visit:

Photo 1: Posing with the Dalai Lama in Dharmasala, India, are CCAC alumna Theresa Osborne Ward (front row, third from the right) and CCAC Professor Patsy Williamson (far right).

Photo 2: Pausing for a photo during their visit to Dharmasala are Dr. Yang Jianli, president of Initiatives for China, Theresa Osborne Ward and Patsy Williamson.


About the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)
CCAC annually educates nearly 30,000 credit students through more than 150 degree, certificate, diploma and transfer programs and offers thousands of students access to noncredit and workforce development courses. The learning-centered institution’s mission is to provide affordable access to quality education and offer a dynamic, diverse and supportive learning environment that prepares the region’s residents for academic, professional and personal success in our changing global society. CCAC’s quality programs enable students to transfer credits to approximately 500 colleges and universities and support regional workforce needs with accessible instruction available day, evening, weekend and online in Allegheny County and beyond. Visit to learn more.

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