Summer Reading Program Kick-Starts College Experience for Freshmen
July 29, 2008
This year's selection, “The Devil’s Highway: A True Story,” prepares students for
independent study and stimulates ongoing discussion of immigration and border issues.
"The Devil's Highway: A True Story" by Luis Alberto Urrea was a finalist for the Pulitizer
The beginning of the fall semester is still several days away, but incoming freshmen
already have their first homework assignment.
As part of this year’s summer reading program
, first-year students are asked to read “The Devil’s Highway: A True Story,” by Luis
Alberto Urrea. The book follows 26 men who in May 2001 attempted to cross the Mexican
border into the United States through the brutal and deadly Arizona desert region
known as the Devil’s Highway. Only 12 of the men survived the journey.
“The book provides an opportunity for students to understand that immigration remains
among the most pressing civic and ethical issues of our time,” said Emily Hicks, associate
director for the Center for Campus Life. “Urrea’s book offers an opportunity to discuss
the history and present state of immigration as well as the ethical implications
associated with this pressing social issue.”
During the fall semester, students will continue to learn about and discuss the topic
of immigration, including the legal, political and ethical ties to this topic through
various activities. Urrea will visit the campus in September to discuss the topic
of immigration as well as speak to the university community regarding the book and
the topic of immigration.
“The Devil’s Highway: A True Story,” published in 2004, was a finalist for the Pulitizer
Prize and was named a best book of the year by the Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald
and the Chicago Tribune among other publications. Urrea, who was born in Tijuana,
Mexico, is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinios-Chicago.
The summer reading program began in 2003. While the program is not a requirement,
university officials do recommend it.
“The program will help students get ready for the college curriculum that awaits
them,” said Hicks. “Students should understand that they will be expected to learn
independently, outside of the classroom. We intend for the summer book to be an introduction
to what will become routine.”
The Center for Campus Life
coordinates the summer reading program and works with several academic partners
to select each year’s book. The book is selected in time for students to purchase
it during New Student Orientation.