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Freshman Reading Experience adopts book by FAU Communication graduate

Florida Atlantic University graduate and author Mirta Ojito wrote "Finding Mañana," the book selected for this semester's Freshman Reading Experience. It’s the first time an FAU alumnus has authored the featured book.

The Freshman Reading Experience goal is to bring incoming freshmen together through book discussions and related assignments. Between 300 and 500 freshmen participate, according to Deborah Raines, a nursing professor who chairs the program.

Begun in summer 2007, the project also helps FAU freshmen become familiar with the campus and its services, said Lyn LaVigne, an assistant librarian.

Freshmen who participate are encouraged to write about and discuss the book in their English class or one-credit Strategies for Learning Success classes, Raines said. SLS classes also teach time management, note-taking and test-taking strategies.

Instructors are expected to incorporate the book into their curriculum so that students can analyze the writing with classmates, Raines said.

"Anything that can make people feel affiliated to school helps with retention. I think that's the main focus here," LaVigne said.

This semester's selection, "Finding Mañana," is about Ojito's experiences as a child during the emigrants’ mass boat departure from Cuba.

"I think it's a book that I always wanted to read," Ojito said.

She said she became curious about the story related to her immigration to the Unites States, and she couldn't find it anywhere.

"Why would the Cuban government allow people to leave after so many years of not letting people go?" she asked.

She said nobody else had done this story, so she wrote hers.

While Ojito recorded her memoirs throughout her life, she began writing her account in January 2002 at age 38.

Ojito majored in communication at FAU, and she graduated in December 1986.

She received her master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York. She lives in New York and is an assistant professor of journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

The cost of the book varies between $12 and $15, but the library usually keeps a few copies on reserve.

A committee of FAU faculty chooses the semester book and generates a list of possibilities based on book reviews, book summaries and web reviews, Raines said.

Once the list is narrowed to between three and five books, the committee reads them and selects one that members think will interest students the most.

Dean of Undergraduate Studies Edward Pratt said the program costs $500 to $600. Bringing the author to the school is an additional expense. This year, the budget could not cover bringing Ojito to FAU.



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Freshman Reading Experience adopts book by FAU communication graduate