Incoming Freshmen Explore New Book in Common

As the Fall 2018 semester begins, so does a new Book in Common series for Texas A&M University-Commerce freshmen. The initiative is designed to bring students together to learn through collective discussion and reflection as they transition into their first year of college.

Funded generously through the President’s Office, copies of the chosen book are purchased and hand-delivered to each new student during summer orientation. The program was implemented under the direction of former A&M-Commerce President Ray Keck and is currently overseen by Dr. Yvonne Villanueva-Russell, dean of the University College.

According to Keck, “In recent years and throughout our nation, carefully planned freshman year experiences have become an integral part of university life. Common to many of those programs is the Book in Common, a book chosen for all entering freshmen to explore together. The Book in Common, chosen for its intense connection to contemporary life, provides students and faculty an engaging text, compelling to read and suggestive of many diverse topics for discussion and for writing.”

While the entrance into college might be thrilling for some, it can be daunting to others. This year, as freshmen experience this transition and period of self-discovery, they will regularly enter into discussions on those topics through Book in Common program. According to Dr. Villanueva-Russell, “When students receive their first college textbook free and then read it from cover-to-cover together, students teach each other, as well as themselves.”

The tome chosen for this year’s study is A Long Way Home, a memoir of the author, Saroo Brierley, who will be on campus September 24 for an author’s address in Ferguson Auditorium.

Dr. Villanueva-Russell described the book as “a story about a person lost both figuratively and literally,” touching on “themes of resilience and identity.”

“Like the main character in the book, incoming freshmen are in transition: becoming adults, seeking independence and crafting their own selves in a process that is sometimes scary, often times fun, and completed successfully with help from friends and relationships,” Villanueva-Russell said. “Through classroom discussions and campus events we discuss and write about the issues raised as a shared cultural experience, discovering that learning through reflection and dialogue can be just as powerful as through tests and memorized facts.”

The book, which is available for purchase in the university bookstore, will correlate with several campus-wide events throughout the year, providing students with a shared cultural experience. Faculty, staff and the university community are invited to read the book along with the Class of 2022 and attend said campus events.

For more information on the TAMUC Book in Common initiative, visit