A reading assignment to spark a community discussion
PRINCESS ANNE, MD
– (Aug. 13, 2014) – Classes at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore for the
fall semester start Aug. 25, but members of the Class of 2018 already have a
Freshmen as well as
students in select upper-level English, history and science classes are part of
a new, “cross-campus / cross-disciplinary” reading initiative called “Just One
They all will be
reading, discussing and debating “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by
Rebecca Skloot, the true story of “a poor black tobacco farmer whose
(cancerous) cells — taken without her knowledge in 1951 — became one of the
(20th century’s) most important tools in medicine.”
Ms. Lacks’ cells were
used by researchers who were credited with “developing the polio vaccine,
cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization and more,” Skloot notes on her
“Henrietta’s cells have
been bought and sold by the billions,” the author wrote, “yet she remains
virtually unknown” while her descendants struggle to pay for health insurance.
Organizers of UMES’
Just One Book initiative also are extending an invitation to others across
campus and in the community at-large to read Skloot’s widely regarded book in
hopes of stimulating a broader conversation about questions the book raises.
UMES sophomore Pierrysen Henry recommends the book
to fellow students.
“That book was amazing,” Henry said. “I read it.
Cover to cover. Twice.”
UMES’ Department of
English and Modern Languages plans to sponsor a student symposium featuring
panels devoted to the book, along with other topics where participants can
compete for monetary prizes and awards for the best presentation, essay and
The symposium, which
will be announced later in the academic year, will emphasize scholarship and
academic writing-research for students, according to organizers.
“Please pick up a copy
now and join us in this important and relevant read,” said Dr. Amy
Hagenrater-Gooding, a UMES English professor who with colleague Courtney Harned
is coordinating the “Just One Book” program for the 2014-15 academic year.
Reach Hagenrater-Gooding at (410) 651-6351 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Neebo campus
bookstore in UMES’ Student Services Center has “Henrietta Lacks” books in
Bill Robinson, director, Office of Public Relations, (410) 621-2355.