Community Invited to Support Freshman Reading

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When it comes to the Freshman Reading Program, its success relies just as much on faculty and staff support as it does on student participation.       

“Because this year’s book, ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ by Rebecca Skloot, covers so many areas relevant to the Tech community, we are hoping to engage a wide range of faculty and staff from those researching and teaching biomedicine, immunology and research ethics, to those thinking about the convergence of race and medicine, public policy and community involvement,” said Nirmal Trivedi, assistant director of the Center for Academic Success and Freshman Reading Program director.

Each year, the Freshman Reading book is selected by a committee comprised of faculty, staff and students. Incoming freshmen learn about the program and receive their copy of the book over the summer when they attend FASET orientation.

All members of the campus community are encouraged to read the book and participate in the related reading groups, speaker series and student-led forums held during the academic year. These events are currently being planned and will be updated on the Academic Success website throughout the semester.

In addition to these activities, faculty members and English 1101/1102 and GT 1000 instructors often integrate the book into their lesson plans. This is something that Beth Bullock Spencer, senior assistant director for the Center for Academic Success, has done in her GT 1000 classes since 2009.

“GT 1000 instructors often feel very pressed for time, but I’ve always had good luck using the Freshman Reading book as a foundation for out-of-class journal assignments,” Spencer said. “Having students write reflective pieces on the book provides a good base for productive classroom discussions. I also encourage my students to attend the campus Freshman Reading Lecture, which I use to spark another in-class discussion.”

When it came to integrating last year’s text, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream: Writing and Speeches that Changed the World” into Esther Jordan’s GT 1000 course, she also encouraged students to attend several campus events related to the reading.

“And we invited Stephanie Ray, associate dean of students, to speak to our class,” said Jordan, who is a visiting assistant professor in the School of International Affairs. “She performed a monologue in the voice of Coretta Scott King — which was amazing and really resonated with students — and then engaged them in a dialogue about the text.”

Faculty and staff who are interested in integrating the Freshman Reading text into their classes or coordinating programs around the book should contact Trivedi for a desk copy. The Center for Academic Success website provides information about the book’s major themes, assignment ideas and forums for discussing possible ways to use the book.

“We are also looking for faculty to get involved with programs ranging from panels to facilitated discussion groups,” Trivedi added.   

To get involved, contact Trivedi.



  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Amelia Pavlik
  • Created: 06/13/2012
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 10/07/2016

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