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‘Educated: A Memoir’ author Westover to speak at A...

‘Educated: A Memoir’ author Westover to speak at Aug. 24 MTSU Convocation

Thousands of new MTSU freshmen, aka the Class of 2023, and Class of ’21 transfer students will be joined by their families and the community to help ring in the 2019-20 academic year during University Convocation at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, in Murphy Center.

Tara Westover

Tara Westover

The public is invited.

Attendees will hear from President Sidney A. McPhee, Vice President of Student Affairs Deb Sells and author Tara Westover, author of “Educated: A Memoir,” the university’s Summer Reading Program selection for all new students.

To find parking near Murphy Center, visit http://tinyurl.com/MTParkingMap.

Sells said Convocation, a rite of each new fall semester at MTSU where faculty and administrators don academic regalia to open the school year, is designed to welcome new students into the learning community and to immediately engage them in the learning process.

Dr. Debra Sells, vice president of student affairs and vice provost for enrollment and academic services

Dr. Debra Sells

“The foundation for this effort is the Summer Reading Program, through which each new MTSU student is required to read a common piece of literature prior to his or her arrival on campus,” added Sells, who is also vice provost for enrollment and academic services at MTSU.

She explained that this year’s reading selection “is Westover’s story of growing up isolated as part of a survivalist family living off the grid in Idaho. It’s also the story of the grit and determination that eventually secured her admission to Brigham Young University, then to Harvard and eventually to a doctoral degree from Cambridge University.”

Sells recalled MTSU’s 2017 summer reading selection, “Hillbilly Elegy,” by J.D. Vance, and noted that The New York Times Book Review compared the two books in its review of “Educated.”

MTSU’s new and returning students and the entire audience recite the True Blue Pledge during Convocation in August 2018 in Murphy Center. This year’s Convocation will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU’s new students join the audience to recite the True Blue Pledge in this file photo from the 2018 University Convocation ceremony in Murphy Center. This year’s University Convocation will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

“If (J.D.) Vance’s memoir offered street-heroin-grade drama, (Tara) Westover’s is carfentanil, the stuff that tranquilizes elephants,” reviewer Alec McGinnis wrote. “The extremity of Westover’s upbringing emerges gradually through her telling, which only makes the telling more alluring and harrowing. … By the end, Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others.”

Westover’s book topped The New York Times’ best-seller list and was nominated for the 2018 John Leonard Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award. Sells said many MTSU faculty members are incorporating the summer reading selection into early writing assignments or using it as a theme for class discussion.

More than 3,000 new students and several thousand parents are expected to attend Convocation.

Following Convocation, the annual President’s Picnic will take place at Floyd Stadium.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Attendees at the fall University Convocation go through the line to select barbecue, hot dogs and more during the annual President’s Picnic in August 2018 underneath Floyd Stadium. The President’s Picnic follows Convocation on Saturday, Aug. 24. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

Attendees at MTSU’s 2018 University Convocation go through a line beneath Floyd Stadium to select barbecue, hot dogs and side dishes in this file photo from the annual President’s Picnic. This year’s event follows Convocation on Saturday, Aug. 24. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU students will hear historian and author Tara Westover, who wrote "Educated: A Memoir," at Convocation Saturday, Aug. 24.


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