Common Read encourages truth, empowerment, attitude, mentorship


ANDREA HUETE, Copy Editor (She/Her)


Each year, South Dakota State University selects a book called the Common Read that freshman students read in their seminar classes. This year, the book is “Crossing the Line” by Kareem Rosser.

“Crossing the Line” is a story about growing up in an impoverished Philadelphia neighborhood and details Rosser’s experience with horseback riding and polo. 

“One of the strengths of this Common Read selection is that it tells a story from a perspective that’s likely to be new to many SDSU readers while staying focused on some really universal experiences, feelings and challenges,” Toby Uecker, dean of students, said. 

“‘Crossing the Line’ can feel familiar to athletes who know the drive of competition, to family members who have navigated tough times with the people they care about most, to riders who know instinctively the feel of making a connection with their horse, to learners who have benefited from a great mentor and to anyone who has learned something from their own success or failure.”

The Common Read is chosen through a committee vote. A long list is narrowed down when factoring in the criteria where the committee then chooses the winning book by vote. 

“Everyone is welcome to participate in the reading and voting process,” Lisa Madsen, a member of the committee and lecturer in the School of English & Interdisciplinary Studies, said about selecting a common read book for the year. 

According to Meagan Irvine-Miller, a Common Read Committee member and a professor who recently started teaching in the Early Childhood Education program, a book is selected when it meets the Common Read goals: 

  1. Raises the level of academic challenge at SDSU
  2. Enhances awareness of diverse perspectives
  3. Increases faculty and student interaction
  4. Encourages service;
  5. Promotes enriching, engaging educational experiences both inside and outside class

Rebecca Bott, dean of the Honors College, said that this year, the novel has four themes which together create the acronym TEAM. T stands for truth, E for empowerment, A for attitude and M for mentorship.

– Truth is clearly portrayed as emotions, the status of our environment and how we are equipped to navigate in a complex world. 

– Empowerment is an active process that leads someone to become stronger and more confident in themselves.

– Attitude is one’s thoughts or feelings and how that state of mind is reflected in an action or behavior. Your attitude can reflect whether you think favorably or unfavorably about something. 

–   Mentorship refers to how someone is guided or advised by others. It can lead to friendship or a nice relationship, as it has the intention to positively impact their personal and professional lives. 

Although most freshmen are required to read the book in their first-year seminar, the Common Read committee encourages all students, faculty and staff to read and attend their events, especially the one in November when Rosser will come in person to discuss his book  and provide a chance for the audience to have their books signed.