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Author visit highlights this fall’s Campus Read events

The best-selling book “Educated: A Memoir” has sparked many conversations at West Virginia University and the whole community can now join the conversation in a series of events celebrating this year’s Campus Read.

Tara Westover’s harrowing and inspiring story of growing up in an Idaho survivalist family to become a Harvard and Cambridge-educated scholar is one that has resonated with readers around the world. Her father’s distrust of the outside world meant she didn’t have a birth certificate until she was 9 or any formal schooling. As a teenager, Westover taught herself enough grammar and mathematics to be admitted to Brigham Young University where her professors recognized her exceptional intellect and hunger to learn.

The Campus Read committee, which is coordinated by the WVU Humanities Center, believed WVU students could relate to her struggles, her self-doubts and, ultimately, her success.

“’Educated’ was reviewed by faculty, staff and students and immediately rose to the top of the list as a Campus Read because it is powerful and presents so many points of connection for our community,” said Rhonda Reymond, interim director of the Humanities Center. “In the telling of her story, the author makes us think about the transformative journey of our students, our responsibility as mentors and the role education can play in ‘making a person,’ as Westover says.”

The author will talk about her book when she comes to campus Nov. 11 as part of the David C. Hardesty Festival of Ideas. She’ll speak in the Mountainlair Ballrooms at 7:30 p.m. In a series of events, art exhibit and podcast, the WVU community will explore the themes of the book which include resilience, patriarchy, distrust of institutions, and the challenges of being a first-generation student.

“Educated” A Book Club Discussion

Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. Digital Storytelling Hub, Media Innovation Center

The Reed College of Media is hosting a book club style discussion of “Educated.”

RSVP for the discussion.

“American Mythologies”

Oct. 24 at 7 p.m., Mountainlair Ballrooms

Faculty and staff examine some of the myths and assumptions in the book. They will discuss people’s connection to land, the patriot movement, American individualism, settler colonialism and higher education.

Charlotte Hoelke, assistant director, Women’s Resource Center & clinical assistant professor LGBTQ+ Center
Lynne Stahl, clinical assistant professor, LGBTQ+ Center
Niara Campbell, program coordinator, Rise WVU
John Temple, professor, Reed College of Media
Campus Read Graduate Student Social

Nov. 7 from 5:30 -7 p.m. E. Moore Hall.

The Office of Graduate Education and Life invites graduate students to talk about the book and share their personal experiences.

“What It Means to Be Educated”

Nov.18, 6 p.m. Mountainlair Ballrooms

WVU staff reflect on their journey as first-generation college students.

Jessica Dai, staff librarian, WVU Libraries
Sara Georgi, program coordinator, WVU Press
Rickie Huffman, social media specialist, University Relations Enrollment Management
Ongoing Art Exhibit

In “Constructing A Life: A Visual Response To ‘Educated,’” Robert Bridges, curator of the WVU Art Museum has selected pieces from the permanent collection to relate to the larger themes of Tara Westover’s memoir. These objects, which can be viewed on the second floor of Stewart Hall, present ideas about identity, mentorship, belonging, taking an unconventional path, and persistence. Viewers of the exhibit may very well see these and other connections, as well as find resonance within their own lived experiences.

“WVU READS” A Podcast

Geoffrey Hilsabeck, Community Engagement Fellow with the WVU Humanities Center, hosts a weekly conversation centered around themes of the book. He interviews faculty and staff about some of the issues raised in the book. You can find it in your favorite podcast provider by searching “WVU Reads.”

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