First-Year Read

Students studying outside Blake Student Commons

Think of the first-year read as your first assignment. With discussion groups and activities based on the book, you’ll begin your life as a college student exploring topics, themes (particularly as it applies to the Campus Theme), and meeting other students. First-year read texts are carefully selected to engage and inspire students, encourage reading for pleasure and for purpose, and to provide common ground for spirited discussion and reflection.

The first-year read for 2014-2015:

In preparation for the September 23, 2014 campus visit by author and activist Ashley Rhodes-Courter, all first-year students and transfer students will read Rhodes-Courter’s book, Three Little Words. This riveting memoir chronicles Rhodes-Courter’s journey from a fractured family through the foster system in the state of Florida. Delving into themes surrounding family ties, identity development, social services and support, and becoming empowered against all odds, the book is a tremendous example of what it means for one woman to own her story. 

From Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s Website

“Sunshine, you’re my baby and I’m your only mother. You must mind the one taking care of you, but she’s not your mama.” Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent nine years of her life in fourteen different foster homes, living by those words. As her mother spirals out of control, Ashley is left clinging to an unpredictable, dissolving relationship, all the while getting pulled deeper and deeper into the foster care system.

Painful memories of being taken away from her home quickly become consumed by real-life horrors, where Ashley is juggled between caseworkers, shuffled from school to school, and forced to endure manipulative, humiliating treatment from a very abusive foster family. In this inspiring, unforgettable memoir, Ashley finds the courage to succeed – and in doing so, discovers the power of her own voice.

Previous first-year reads:


Do It Anyway by Courtney E. Martin


The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri


I Am an Emotional Creature by Eve Ensler