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One Campus, One Book

The Campus Common Reading unites students and the entire Notre Dame community in a shared exploration of a significant work of fiction or non-fiction.

Liz Murray, author of this year’s Campus Common Reading, Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard, spoke on October 7.

Born to loving but drug-addicted parents, Murray found herself living on the streets at age 15 but managed to complete high school in two years and gain admittance to Harvard University. Murray told her compelling story with humor and inspiration, emphasizing the help she received from key people along the way, particularly from a high school teacher who believed in her refused to let her give up. Her journey is recounted in year’s common read, Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard. Liz squeezed four years of high school into two, while homeless; won a New York Times scholarship; and made it into the Ivy League. Breaking Night is an unforgettable and beautifully written story of one young woman's indomitable spirit to survive and prevail, against all odds.

During summer orientation, every incoming undergraduate student received a copy of Breaking Night, which will be explored in their required IDS-100 course, Perspectives on Education and Culture. Upper level and graduate students are also encouraged to participate in the Common Reading and may be required to read the book for some of their classes. Throughout the year, coursework and extra-curricular events will draw from the subjects and themes explored in the work.

Common Reading Program at NDMU

The Common Reading Program at Notre Dame of Maryland University highlights our commitment to academic excellence while recognizing the importance of community and shared experience. By providing the Common Reading book to our incoming first-year and transfer students, making it a focal point in IDS courses, and opening the reading opportunity to our campus as a whole (returning students, faculty and staff), we begin our academic year with many of the same thoughts, emotions and questions based on our summer reading. This common ground allows us to begin a year of discussion and exploration of the human experience.

After identifying key topics and themes of the chosen text, we are able to plan various campus events throughout the year that serve to enrich the reading. The Notre Dame of Maryland University community is fortunate to have a wealth of faculty and staff often called upon to address topics of interest related to the Common Reading, and our Baltimore location also allows us the opportunity to seek outside presenters to provide their voice to our community reading experience.

To conclude our yearly endeavor, we ask our students for the final take on our common reading program. In April, at the annual Nancy Kreiter Student Research Day, students are invited to share their responses to the reading through a variety of mediums—research, art, music, writing, etc. These submissions are reviewed and awarded recognition by the IDS faculty, Common Reading and Research Day committees.