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Bestselling author Tara Westover visits LSC-University Park

HOUSTON – LSC-University Park hosted Dr. Tara Westover, New York Times bestselling author of Educated: A Memoir, Tuesday, Nov. 13. Nearly 250 students, faculty, staff and community members attended Dr. Westover’s presentation, The Power of Education, and book signing. 

“We are grateful that Dr. Westover brought her empowering message on education to our students, faculty and staff,” said Dr. Shah Ardalan, LSC-University Park president. “She inspired our college community and has shown our students what they can achieve if they persist in their educational pursuits as she did. At LSC-University Park, we strive to create the best academic and experiential education to help students achieve their ultimate goals. Rich and engaging experiences, like Dr. Westover’s presentation, help us do just that.”

Dr. Westover’s memoir details her experience of being kept from the classroom by her survivalist family, but going on to earn a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. In her presentation, Dr. Westover shared stories from her life and memoir to demonstrate how education broadened her worldview and helped her overcome personal obstacles.

“I am glad to support community college, as it is the gateway for so many students,” said Dr. Westover. “People think education is about getting a job, but it should be about discovering themselves. Education is the process by which you develop a sense of self, and it should feel like a freedom, not a restriction.”

Dr. Westover’s memoir serves as the 2018 – 2019 centerpiece of LSC-University Park’s ReadUP! program, which strives to challenge students, faculty and staff to think critically and engage in thoughtful discussion throughout the academic year. The book creates a common experience that increases awareness and engagement in cultural, civic and current issues beyond the classroom.

“Recognizing that education is an opportunity to define ourselves is a powerful expression of the work we do at LSC-University Park,” said Kristie Musgrove, a professor of English and a member of the ReadUP! committee. “Seeing the participation and engagement during Dr. Westover’s presentation was such a rush. I watched the students, faculty, staff and community members listen, nod, laugh, lean forward in their seats, and eagerly line up to have time with the author and share their connections to her work. Shared reading allows for this kind of dialogue and communication that fosters community and engagement at our college.”

Professors in disciplines as varied as biology, English, government and political science, history and speech incorporated the text with their academic instruction. In her Speech 1318 course, professor Sara Whalen created a classroom activity that applied the concepts of familial communication patterns students were studying to the memoir. The activity helped strengthen students’ understanding of the concepts with real-life examples.

The shared reading experience also inspired campus events this fall, including a panel discussion, Overcoming Obstacles in Education, and a film screening of He Named Me Malala with an open forum. In the spring, LSC-University Park students, faculty and staff will build upon the events of the fall and reach out to the community, engaging in conversations about global education issues.

The ReadUP! committee, comprised of faculty and staff, is currently in the process of identifying the title for the next academic year.

“With ReadUP!, we want to ensure the books we select are relatable to our community’s current experiences,” said Colby Lasyone, a professor of biology and a member of the ReadUP! committee. “Having Dr. Westover visit our campus reinforced the relatability and put a face to the stories in her memoir. During this inaugural year, we engaged with more than 1,000 students, faculty, staff and community members. We hope to do the same in the second year of ReadUP! and continue to develop the relationship between academic learning and campus and community engagement.”

Visit LoneStar.edu/UP-ReadUP for more information about LSC-University Park’s ReadUP! program.