Why Penn State New Kensington? Our First-Year Experience
Having nothing in common at freshman orientation is now a thing of the past.
Penn State New Kensington students may come from diverse backgrounds, but they all arrive on campus in the fall with at least one shared experience – a book – to talk about.
Thanks to the First Year Summer Reading Program, students attend Pride Days and participate in a faculty-led discussion about a book everyone has read. In 2011, that book was My Maasai Life: From Suburbia to Savannah by Robin Wiszowaty.
The reading program provides a common experience during an otherwise new time for students, said Lauren Blum, student life coordinator at Penn State New Kensington.
All incoming freshmen received a copy of the book when they attended FTCAP (First Year Testing, Consulting and Advising Program) and then they had the summer to read it. A native of suburban Illinois, Wiszowaty wrote about her life-changing experience living with a Maasai family in rural Kenya. Since this year the campus is celebrating Kenya and Tanzania, the book also served as an introduction to the campus' Country of Focus program.
In October, the campus community was thrilled to host Wiszowaty. She chatted with students, talked about her experiences and answered questions about the book.
If you have an idea for a future first year summer reading program book, please send your book nomination to Jennifer Gilley, head librarian, Blissell Library.
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