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2019 First Year Reading Experience Scholarship Winners Selected And Honored

The first year experience (FYE) office is pleased to announce that the first year reading experience scholarship recipients have been selected. The decision-making process was a difficult one as there were 59 wonderful submissions. Eleven out of the seventeen recipients were honored at a special recognition dinner on Friday, November 1 in the MLK room in Ellison Campus Center.

Since 2009, the Salem State University community has selected a common book for all incoming first year students as part of the first year reading experience (FYRE) program. Incoming students receive a copy of a book at orientation and read it over the course of the summer.  Students have the opportunity to apply to the FYRE scholarship offered through the FYE office. Recipients can win one of several awards between $100 and $1,000 in scholarship funds. On the University’s Opening Day, students participate in a number of activities including small group book discussions with faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, and upper-class students. The scholarship has been offered for a couple of years to first-year students who submit an essay addressing one of the two prompts that are selected.

The Book of Unknown Americans examines the experiences of immigrants coming to the U.S. The central focus is the Rivera family, who has traveled from Mexico in order to get a better education for daughter, Maribel. Maribel who suffers from a brain injury as the result of a fall from a ladder. Her parents, Arturo and Alma, hope that the special education program in America will help Maribel return to her old self. As it turns out, the real assistance comes from a neighbor boy, Mayor Toro, who falls in love with Maribel. Mayor’s family becomes deeply entwined in the lives of their new neighbors and helps them adjust to American culture. 

This year, students were asked to reflect on Cristina Henrqíuez’s message of what it means to be invisible or unknown in American culture. And what steps our students have taken to overcome this feeling of invisibility. While other students responded to this question of what the American dream is, what steps are required to obtain said dream, and what obstacles or roadblocks have gotten in the way of their dreams.

The seventeen scholarship recipients will receive their scholarship funds in the spring 2020 semester. A couple of these students have been invited to share their work at the undergraduate student readers’ event on December 2 at 11 am in the MLK Room in Ellison Campus Center.

Franklin Chilaka
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