Summer reading author to visit KSU

Derek Lenehan

The summer reading program for incoming freshmen is continuing this summer with A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League, by Ron Suskind. The nonfiction book is about an inner-city high school student named Cedric, who experiences a transition from his disadvantaged home to Brown University.

Deborah Craig, coordinator in the Honors College, said Suskind has agreed to speak at the M.A.C. Center Sept. 21.

“We got the contract while I was away over break. I haven’t even told the M.A.C. (Center) yet,” she said.

While A Hope in the Unseen bears similarities to last year’s summer reading assignment, The Color of Water, the books contain different messages, said Lauren Pernetti, academic program coordinator for the Student Advising Center.

“I think they’re quite different,” she said. “The books we’re selecting from go well beyond just black and white issues.”

Pernetti said that A Hope in the Unseen can be looked at in two halves. The first half is about Cedric’s experiences at the end of high school, while the second half is about him finding his niche at Brown.

“It seemed to be the most appropriate book for students going to college,” she said.

Some freshmen were not content with the handling of last year’s summer reading, including Kyle Phillips, freshman fine arts major.

“The reading would have been a good idea if they actually incorporated it into the class. My class didn’t at all,” he said.

Orientation instructors have heard similar complaints and intend to handle this year’s reading better than last year’s.

Michael Vaughn, senior English major and orientation instructor, said the reading is a good idea on the whole, with both ups and downs.

“I think it ends up being really effective when orientation instructors tie it in to other lessons,” he said. “It’s hard to cover the entire book in one hour on the first day students are there.”

In what could be an example for orientation classes this coming fall, Vaughn said his class made a semester project out of the assignment, with half the class debating the pros and cons of the assignment, and the other half filming a movie based on the assignment.

The Office of First-Year Experience is still seeking faculty and staff members who wish to serve as discussion leaders for the book in upcoming orientation classes.

Contact academic affairs reporter Derek Lenehan at [email protected].