“The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates” by Wes Moore will be the common read for UNC Pembroke freshmen next fall.
Designed to provide first-year students with the opportunity to have a shared academic experience, the common reading experience also allows students to make connections before arriving on campus. The 2014-15 book selection is a coming of age story with a message, said Todd Allen, who chaired the selection committee.
“This will be the first year of a traditional common read program, so it will be a new campus-wide opportunity,” said Allen, who is an academic advisor in charge of the First Year Program at UNCP. “I believe we have a really good book for our first common read.”
First-year students will be asked to read the book prior to the start of the fall semester. It will be incorporated into orientation activities, Freshmen Seminar and additional programming throughout year. Campuswide events are in the planning stages, including a speaking engagement.
Faculty are invited to teach from the book in their courses, Allen said. The themes of “The Other Wes Moore” make it a good fit in many courses.
“There is good potential to incorporate this book into a number of courses like English, psychology, criminal justice, social work, sociology and more,” he said. “We will begin discussions this spring with the offices Student and Academic Affairs. It will take time to build this program.”
Allen will begin promoting the book to freshmen in the summer via social media. “Because we believe this is a book students can relate to, we hope to start the conversation early,” he said. “We hope to build connections to create a common experience before the first-year students arrive.”
“‘The Other Wes Moore’ is a story about two kids with the same name, living blocks from each other and the choices they made. One became a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison for murder.
“It is a story about choices and how they impact the future,” Allen said. “It’s also about the power of support systems. The author’s mother did everything possible to help her son get an education.”
Allen led a 17-member committee through the selection process. Forty books were nominated, and the other finalist was “I am Malala,” the story of a Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban.
LeAnn Strickland, a student on the committee, explained her choice.
“I selected this book because I truly believe the themes present, such as class and race differences, community themes and issues identity and life purpose directly relate to the majority of students here at UNCP,” Strickland said. “Those who may not be able to directly related can benefit by being exposed to a different world view than their own.”
The selection process went smoothly, Allen said. They set criteria for the selection from the start. The committee sought a book that:
- Promotes dialogue and critical thinking;
- Speaks to issues of first-year students;
- Exposes students to issues relevant to a global society;
- Applies to learning inside and outside the classroom;
- Provides possibilities for campus programming; and is
- Available in paperback and is 400 pages or less.
The book is available via online booksellers, in bookstores and at the UNCP Bookstore. It retails for around $10.
The Common Reading Experience Committee included: Dr. Catherine Parisian (English Department), Dr. Kelly Ficklin (Education), Keondra Mitchell (Business), Dr. Therese Rizzo (English), Dr. Renee Lamphere (Sociology & Criminal Justice), Robert Canada (Office for Diversity and Inclusion), Parker Watson (Office of Student Involvement & Leadership), Courtney Walters (Center for Academic Excellence), Derek Oxendine (Advising Center), Michael Alewine (Library), Dr. David Nikkel (Religion), Dr. Mary Ann Jacobs (American Indian Studies), LeAnn Strickland (Student) and Emily Ashley (Student).
For more information about UNCP’s Common Reading Experience, please contact Todd Allen in the Advising Center at 910.521.6243.