Colleges, universities and cities alike all attempt to bring their communities together in hopes to become stronger. Many ideas flourished, but there is one unique finding that accomplishes this pursuit.
One Book, One College has been a part of Fullerton College for almost a decade. English instructor Kim Orlijan brought it to life when she first arrived on campus in 2007 and thought it was a good way to get the campus community together.
This ongoing activity involves the entire campus coming together by reading a specified book throughout the year to trigger discussions between students, professors and others. An array of classes this semester assigned the selected book for the class to read, expanding Orlijan’s goals. These classes include English 59, 60, 99 and 100, Reading 36 and 56 and Ethnic Studies 101.
Based on the true story, this year’s book is called “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot.
The book takes the reader through the life of Henrietta as she falls victim of cervical cancer. But scientists take cells from Henrietta during an exam without her consent. With these cells, the medical research sky-rockets with brand new discoveries, such as virology and new vaccines, all sold for profit. Unfortunately, Henrietta’s descendants went uninformed of the non-stop research for 20 years and suffered through poverty without receiving a dime for Henrietta’s contribution. Skloot attempts to give Henrietta’s family the answers they deserve.
“I think students can relate to the book because it has to do with power structures,” said Orlijan. “It’s not just science, it also touches on ethical issues, race, racism.”
As Orlijan hopes for the students on campus to get involved, she also wants it to spread outside of the campus and not stay inside the classroom. She said one of her main goals is for the book to spark multiple questions and get the community more involved and to bring in more readers and magnify the community as a one.
“If you bring that out to the campus, [the campus] gets closer because it’s having conversations centered on one book.”
Last year, several books were nominated, including Skloot’s, and her book was chosen as FC’s novel for One Book, One College. Orlijan would like to go through this process again next year as it also creates campus unity.
If interested, Skloot’s novel can be found at the campus’ library, but there are multiple holdings currently.