The Provost Summer Read Program is built around a common book that is read over the summer by all first year students. This year's book is Step Out On Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life's Challenges by Byron Pitts, a senior news correspondent and anchor for ABC news. After first year students arrive on campus to begin their fall semester of classes, they will participate in a seminar discussion of the book that will be led by a member of the faculty.
Each student will be given a copy of the book when he/she arrives on campus for summer orientation. It will be included with other materials that each student will receive at the beginning of orientation.
The goals of the Provost Summer Read Program are:
- To engender a sense of community among first year students through participation in a shared activity
- To provide first year students with an opportunity to engage with other first year students and faculty at an early stage in their academic career.
- To introduce first year students to the intellectual climate of the university
- To learn to appreciate the role that dialogue and reasoned exchange of ideas plays in student success
- To promote reading and writing as a way of developing analytical skills and the ability to think critically
Step Out on Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life's Challenges by Byron Pitts
In "Step Out on Nothing," Byron Pitts chronicles his astonishing story of overcoming a childhood filled with obstacles to achieve enormous success in life. Throughout Byron's difficult youth--his parents separated when he was twelve and his mother worked two jobs to make ends meet--he suffered from a debilitating stutter. But Byron was keeping an even more embarrassing secret: He was also functionally illiterate. For a kid from inner-city Baltimore, it was a recipe for failure.
Pitts turned struggle into strength and overcame both of his impediments. Along the way, a few key people "stepped out on nothing" to make a difference for him--from his mother, who worked tirelessly to raise her kids right and delivered ample amounts of tough love, to his college roommate, who helped Byron practice his vocabulary and speech. Pitts even learns from those who didn't believe in him, like the college professor who labeled him a failure and told him to drop out of college. Through it all, he persevered, following his steadfast passion. After fifteen years in local television, he landed a job as a correspondent for CBS News in 1998, and went on to become an Emmy Award-winning journalist and a contributing correspondent for "60 Minutes." Not bad for a kid who couldn't read.
From a challenged youth to a reporting career that has covered 9/11 and Iraq, Pitts's triumphant and uplifting story will resonate with anyone who has felt like giving up in the face of seemingly insurmountable hardships.