On Monday, September 20, first-year students discussed the book they had been asked to read the summer before their arrival on campus: Tell Me Who You Are: Sharing our Stories of Race, Culture and Identity, by Winona Gua and Priya Vulcht. Discussions were facilitated by student advisers as well as faculty and staff from across campus.
The selection of the book was guided by the College’s anti-racism work. The authors, both 18, deferred college admission for a year to travel the country and interview a wide range of Americans. Interview subjects represent multiple races, cultures, and identities.
The committee felt that the authors’ youthful perspective and unique approach to discussing a difficult topic would appeal to incoming first-year students, along with the entire Meredith community.
Feedback from discussion participants was positive.
“I was inspired by the vulnerability demonstrated by the freshmen during our discussion,” said Michaela Altman, ’24, a student adviser. “Many bravely shared their individual stories, backgrounds, and hardships in life, reminding us all that truly getting to know someone is vital to gaining an overall sense of connection and inclusion on campus.”
Chrissie Bumgardner, co-chair of the Summer Reading Program (SRP) committee, was happy with reports she received on how the discussions went.
“Comments from the faculty, staff, and students who helped lead the book discussions were very positive and supported the SRP goals for this year’s selection,” said Bumgardner. “The range of profiles featured in the book gave students the opportunity to read about people from so many backgrounds. I believe most students could find a personal connection to one or more of the people featured and in turn be more open to bigger issues of acceptance of and respect for people from diverse backgrounds.”
About Summer Reading
Meredith’s Summer Reading Program enhances the academic climate on campus by engaging incoming first-year students in a shared intellectual endeavor with the entire campus community, including students, faculty, staff, and alumnae.
Incoming first-year students are given questions to guide their reading and then engage in facilitated conversations with faculty, staff, and upper-level students during the fall semester. Students also participate in experiential learning activities related to the book, and frequently attend lectures by or about the books’ authors. Previous summer reading selections include The Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Callings, Dimestore, and A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School.