Summer Reading Program
The book selected for the 2014 Summer Reading Program is “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot.
About the book
The book documents the author’s determination to discover the life of Henrietta Lacks, a poor tobacco farmer who died over 60 years ago. What is it about her life story that still makes it important today?
- Her cells still live on in the science labs that continue to provide medical breakthroughs in a multi-million dollar industry
- Her life and that of her family raises issues of race, class and social change; of scientific discovery and ethics; and of the importance of education and health care that remain significant in our nation and world today
- Her story teaches us about the importance of understanding the past as we envision our future
From the Amazon.com book description: Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.
Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.
… The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.
The Summer Reading Program at Ohio Northern University is your first college assignment – an introduction to the habits of the mind and heart that will continue to be developed throughout your ONU experience. As a first-year student, you are asked to read a book over the summer months prior to arriving on campus, to reflect on a series of thought-provoking questions, and to actively participate in small, faculty-led group discussions as part of the Fall Orientation and Convocation each August. By engaging in the common reading and orientation discussions, you will begin to develop the skills of critical thinking and effective communication that are fundamental to your college education. Depending on the book, you will also be encouraged to contemplate the importance of integrating learning among disciplines within the arts and sciences and professional studies; of seeking understanding from different perspectives; and of striving for ethical responsibility.
The summer reading, completed by all incoming students, helps to provide a common experience and sense of community for students transitioning to college life at ONU. An essential part of the orientation process, the summer reading and discussions are an important foundation for academic success at Ohio Northern University.
Copies of the Summer Reading Program selection The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot are available to purchase during Orientation at the University Bookstore in McIntosh Center. Use the prepared reading questions as a guide to thinking about significant themes within the book and to form a basis for the discussion that will occur when you return to campus in August. Keeping a journal where you can organize your ideas, ask your own questions and develop your thoughts on the various topics raised in the book is highly suggested. Such a journal will also be a valuable resource for additional discussions or coursework that your professors may assign in your classes.
When returning to campus in August for Fall Orientation, you will meet with your Transitions Experience professor and your classmates on Thursday, August 21 from 2:15 – 3:30 pm for discussion of the book. This discussion is the first meeting of your class; the various meeting locations will be announced in August prior to Fall Orientation. The following courses are included in the Transition Experience according to your College/major:
Arts & Sciences: TREX 1001
Business Administration: BIZ 1001
Engineering and Eng. Education majors: ENGR 1041
Computer Science majors: ECCS 1101
Pharmacy: PHPR 1011
Following this discussion, your class will process to the Sports Center Fieldhouse for the Convocation – a formal start to the academic year, including university faculty in their academic regalia. Family members will also be in attendance at the Convocation.