Kansas State University


K-State First

K-State Book Network in 2016 and 2017

Hey Wildcats! I love looking back and seeing how KSBN has grown and changed from when we started in 2010 with “The Hunger Games”.

2017 is the year of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”.  The book tells the story of a quirky young man who sets out to discover who killed his neighbor’s dog and along the way discovers more than he ever expected.

We continued our faculty/staff lecture series in Fall 2017 with the following three presentations:

  • “Understanding Christopher’s Math Problems” with Natalia Rojkovskaia, associate professor, department of mathematics, who discussed how the mathematical component of Haddon’s novel is not only amazingly intertwined in the storyline, but is remarkably deep and accurate, which is not that common in literary work.
  • “Exceptional Students in Higher Education: A Panel Discussion” with Marilyn Kaff, associate professor of special education, counseling and affairs; Lindsay Kubina, access advisor and outreach coordinator, Student Access Center; and Molly McGaughey, director, Office of Undergraduate Admissions. This panel of K-State faculty and staff shared their experiences and thoughts on exceptional students in higher education, from admissions to graduation.
  • “Creativity and Craft in Mark Haddon’s ‘Curious Incident'” with Traci Brimhall, assistant professor, department of English, who, through a combination of lecture and interactive exchange, explored how creativity informs the narrative structure, reading experience, and themes of Mark Haddon’s award-winning novel.

Our campus-wide event was “#GetCurious: Life, the Universe, and Everything”, and included four 10-minute lectures on the book’s themes in contemporary life. Opening and in between the lectures, students from K-State’s Forensics Team and K-State Theatre presented short scenes from Haddon’s novel.

2016 was the year of “Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream” by Joshua Davis. This book gave us the opportunity to have interesting, and sometimes difficult discussions about education, immigration, and underdogs.

We had a nice variety of events that went along with last year’s book. They ranged from members of KSBN reflecting on the book selection process for Banned Books Week, visits from Joshua Davis and Fredi Lajvardi, and a panel of students sharing their thoughts and experiences about being an undocumented student at K-State. It was hard to leave the events and not think about the discussion and ideas shared.

Every year we give out awards to honor the K-Staters who bring to life K-State First and KSBN’s motos of “A great college experience starts with a great first year” and “A campus on the same page”. In the Spring, we celebrated those efforts with a dinner at JP’s Bar and Grill with special guest Provost April Mason and Bill and Debbie Miller. The Millers are great supports of the common reading program and the individual and student group awards would not be possible without their generosity.

2015 Faculty Award – Be Stoney, associate professor of curriculum and instruction

Be Stoney, associate professor of curriculum and instruction, has always been a great student advocate and used 2015 common book “The Other Wes Moore” as a springboard to discuss the struggles black men can experience on predominantly white campuses. Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, of which Stoney serves as an advisor, read the book as a group, presented at a national conference, and co-sponsored KSBN’s last event of that year to talk about their experiences on a predominantly white campus.

2016 Student Award -Mawi Sonna, sophomore in English with a minor in Spanish

Mawi Sonna, sophomore in English with a minor in Spanish, shared her immigrant experience of coming to the United States. As a learning assistant for K-State First, it was important to her that her students look at the difficulties issues introduced in “Spare Parts” through a lens of understanding and to focus on the human experience. In her poem, “When home is no home,” she wrote about the concerns of Oscar and of other immigrants who are facing an uncertain future and who sometimes have difficulty defining where home is.

2016 Student Group Award – League of United Latin Americans (LULAC)

League of United Latin Americans, or LULAC, has many goals, including a focus on community service and the betterment of Latinx students at K-State. Its members were heavily involved in activities connected to “Spare Parts” and even co-sponsored KSBN’s last event of the year, “Coming Out of the Shadows: A Panel Discussion,” where students shared their experiences and thoughts about being undocumented at K-State. LULAC hopes to use the award money to help facilitate a statewide conference that will award high school students scholarships and introduce them to issues relevant to the Latinx community.

2016 Faculty Award -Don Saucier, associate professor of psychological sciences

Don Saucier, associate professor of psychological sciences, has always been a great support of KSBN and finds a meaningful way to use the common book in his class every year. For “Spare Parts,” he assigned students in his class missions that reinforced two key themes: collaboration and the pursuit of success despite obstacles, particularly economic obstacles. He asked his students to work in pairs to engage members of their campus community through a socially conscious objective, such as promoting positive social contacts or increasing bias awareness. He asked students to do this with little to no financial cost, with the goal of having students working together to create meaningful effects on campus with a sustainable — inexpensive or no-cost — budget of resources.

We look forward to reading the applications for the 2017 awards and seeing how “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” impacted our students!

by Tara Coleman

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