The Sam Houston State Common Reader program recently hosted a visit with famed author and award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario.
Alongside the Global Center for Journalism & Democracy, the Common Reader program teamed up to host a week of campus exhibitions dedicated to Nazario’s book, Enrique’s Journey.
“The back drop of the story is about immigration, but in the foreground of the story it’s the author speaking to everybody through her areas of expertise,” Director of First-Year Experience Students Success Initiatives Kay Angrove said.
Nazario’s non-fictional book, a double Pulitzer Prize winner, focuses on the debate over immigration reform in the United States pulled from the story of a Honduran boy’s search for his mother after she is forced to leave her family to look for work in America.
“Her most pressing issue and the reason why she is passionate about it is because she has a deep care for the unaccompanied children that are risking their lives to come here,” Angrove said. “She has a heart for these children and has spoken in front of the United Nations and other media outlets to bring attention to these issues.”
Nazario’s book was selected to be the novel of choice for the 2015-2016 academic year and incoming freshmen based on the relevancy and impact of the themes within the book.
“The chosen book has to be cool enough that students want to pick it up and read it, rigorous enough that faculty members want to add it to their class curriculum and topical enough so that it’s something that is interesting or that it touches or affects your life in some way,” Angrove said.
The book was the focus of the 2015 contests hosted by the colleges on the campus. The ten winners included those nominated by faculty and those who submitted work through an array of seven contests.
“The winners will present their work related to themes in the book at a recognition luncheon on Thursday to deans, faculty, administrators and other students who were invited. They will be highlighted and awarded scholarships due to their participation and work they did about the book,” Angrove said.
The Common Reader Program and the GCJD conducts these contests each year in an effort to cycle perspectives and knowledge and to bring about networking.
“In the author’s forum each year we obviously have our faculty, who are authors and have areas of expertise, to speak in their areas of expertise related to things in the book and that’s how we build the forum,” Angrove said. “That is a way for students to get to meet faculty who maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise known and now they may be subject to study that subject more and want to learn more.”
This week of scheduled presentations particularly focuses on all the areas of immigration and other topics discussed in Enrique’s Journey.
“This week of exhibitions and presentations from attorneys and history and psychology professors allows students to learn a little bit more about the themes in the book through different lenses, so hopefully the goal of our program is that students can look at complex issues through different perspectives to learn more about the topic of immigration,” Angrove said.
By incorporating other voices in the discussion, the Common Reader program works to bring different perspectives to complex subjects.
“The goal of the common reader program is to have students engage in conversations across the entire campus that are interesting, academic and involves critical thinking,” Angrove said. “Also to enhance the community between faculty, staff and students.”
Aside from scholarship earnings from $100 to $750, contest winners will meet people in their discipline that they never met before and form relationships, according to Angrove.
Through this annual event the Common Reader program hopes to engage the whole community and select content that is relevant to the students’ success as well as the wide appeals of teachers.
Events are set to analyze Nazario’s Enrique’s Journey during the remaining week from psychology and history professors within the LSC during normal hours.