Common Reading Program


Program Description and Goals

New first-year students received a copy of the selected text during your Advising and Registration Days session, giving you the opportunity to read the book by the start of your first semester at St. Cloud State. The purpose of this program is to provide a common academic experience for all new first-year students, which integrates both curricular and co-curricular activities throughout the year. In addition to events around the book at your New Student Orientation in August, many of you will use the book in at least one class you take during your first year, and all of you will have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of programs throughout 2012-13 related to the book and issues it raises.

Your participation in the common reading program will:

  • introduce you to the nature of collegiate academic life.
  • cultivate a sense of community with your new home at SCSU.
  • help you develop connections with faculty and staff and other students at the university.
  • get you involved in campus activities with related programs and events.
  • enrich your classroom experience with an shared intellectual experience that cuts across courses and co-curricular opportunities.

About the BookThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks cover

Your Common Read 2012-13 is Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Skloot tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, who scientists know as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance.

Skloot’s book looks at many interesting issues such as research and biomedical ethics, racial discrimination and segregation, how poverty and discrimination disenfranchise individuals, families, and communities, scientific revolutions of the 20th century, and journalistic integrity and ethics. This book will open the doors to rich conversations you will experience as a college student at St. Cloud State University.

About the Author

Rebecca Skloot is an award winning science writer. Her New York Times bestselling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, was chosen as a best book of 2010 by more than 60 media outlets.


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