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First Year Summer Reading Program

All incoming students at Penn State New Kensington participate in the First Year Summer Reading Program.  Students are given a free copy of the book at Orientation, then asked to read it over the summer and come prepared to discuss it during Pride Days.  In addition to these book discussions, there is a colloquium event related to the book during the Fall semester.

 The goals of the First Year Summer Reading Program are to:

  • encourage you to read and think critically. 
  • give you a taste of what skills will be required of you in college.
  • provide a shared experience for new students on the campus.
  • enhance a sense of community between students, faculty, and staff by giving us something in common to discuss.

The 2014 book selection is: cover of the book "This I Believe, Life Lessons"

This I Believe: Life Lessons Edited by Dan Gediman with John Gregory and Mary Jo Gediman

This book brings together treasured life lessons of people from all walks of life.  The 60 essays in this collection are filled with valuable insights distilled from a wide range personal experiences.  Whether it's learning the power of saying hello, listening to your inner voice, or discovering the strength that comes from tradegy, these intimate reflections will inspire, move, and encourage you. 

Why This I Believe: Life Lessons?

A group of faculty, staff, and students selected this book because:

  • It encourages you to think about the beliefs you hold most dear as you enter college, an important and formative time in your life.
  • It encourages you to be inspired by the beliefs of others as you begin to form your own.

What you need to do?

Read the book prior to Pride Day Orientation (August 20, 2014).

  • Pick a favorite essay or two, and be prepared to talk about why they are your favorites.
  • Think about what belief you might write about if you were to write your own essay.

Come to Pride Day Orientation prepared to discuss the book and bring your copy with you!

Handout for This I Believe (PDF)

This I Believe is an international organization engageing people in writing and sharying essays describing the core values that guide daily lives.  Over 125,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, are archived on our website, heard on public radio, chronicled through our books, and featured in weekly podcasts.  The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series fo the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow.

This fall we will be holding an all campus This I Believe Essay Contest, so use the book to start thinking about what you would write if you were asked to write a belief essay.


Past reading selections include:

  • Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich  (2005)
  • Strapped by Tamara Draut (2006)
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie (2007)
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi  (200
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch  (2008)
  • Make the Impossible Possible by Bill Strickland  (2010)
  • My Maasai Life: From Suburbia to Savannah by Robin Wiszowaty  (2011)
  • Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks (2012)
  • Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (2013)