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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.

Join the Notre Dame community for this year’s common read, Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard. In Breaking Night, Liz Murray recounts her life experience from birth until age nineteen, when she wins a prestigious New York Times scholarship and is accepted into Harvard University.She was born to loving but drug-addicted parents in the Bronx. In school she was taunted for her dirty clothing and lice-infested hair, eventually skipping so many classes that she was put into a girls' home. At age fifteen, Liz found herself on the streets when her family finally unraveled. She learned to scrape by, foraging for food and riding subways all night to have a warm place to sleep.

When Liz's mother died of AIDS, she decided to take control of her own destiny and go back to high school, often completing her assignments in the hallways and subway stations where she slept. 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. 

Ms. Murray will visit campus on October 7  to discuss her work with the community. More details are forthcoming.

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.