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First Year Reading Experience (FYRE) Scholarship Winners Selected

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 35 wonderful submissions, but 15 recipients were selected.

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 $775 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 years to first-year students who submit an essay addressing one of the two prompts that are selected.

In Look Me in The Eye: My life with Asperger’s, John Elder Robinson chronicles the struggles and victories of a brilliant mind amidst an undiagnosed neurological condition, a dysfunctional family life and rigid social expectations. This vivid, gripping memoir provides a life lesson on resilience and hope for anyone dealing with feelings of alienation and belonging while reminding everyone of the uniting power of empathy and compassion. An indispensable resource to demystify neurological difference and becoming more accepting of each other.

This year, students were asked to reflect on John Elder Robison’s message of what it means to connect and form bonds with people when one cannot communicate what one feels or thinks and ultimately deemed “different.” Through the message of the author and the moving personal narratives of our students, we are reminded that differences are not flaws to be corrected, but rather they are what makes us unique and should be celebrated.

The fifteen scholarship recipients will receive their scholarship funds in Spring 2021. They will also receive a recognition gift by mail consisting of a certificate and celebratory materials.

Franklin Chilaka
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