By REBECCA KOLIMAGA
Since 2004, Cumberland County College’s One Book One College committee has chosen a book that stimulates important conversations. The committee sifts through 20-30 book suggestions each year and, after months of deliberating, chooses a book for One Book One College(OBOC). CCC’s President, Dr. Iskenegbe, brought OBOC to Cumberland County College in 2004. Sharon Kewish, a CCC English professor, is the chairman of OBOC and the rest of the 11 person committee is comprised of other faculty, staff and administration.
They specifically choose books that will benefit the students. The books have ranged from medical to historical, but they all have started important discussions about topics that are usually sensitive. On behalf of the OBOC committee, Kewish comments, “We want the book taught in more than one class. We want it coming from different perspectives, different angles, different faculty.”
Classes such as EN 050, 060, 070 are required to incorporate the book into their curriculum, but many sophomore level professors choose to use the book in their class. Psychology, sociology and nursing professors have taken an OBOC book and utilized it in their teachings. The 2005-2006 book, “My Sister’s Keeper,” was recommended and used by nursing faculty and the 2011-2012 book, “Enrique’s Journey,” was used in history, psychology and sociology classes.
When picking a book, the committee’s foremost goal is the students. OBOC books are chosen so that they can be used in classrooms to reach, touch and inspire as many students as possible.
The book chosen this year is written by Luis Carlos Montalván and entitled “Until Tuesday.” A wounded soldier from the Iraq war meets an emotionally weary golden retriever and once they connect, they both begin to flourish.
Montalván speaks freely on the issue of service dogs, the benefits they have and the harsh criticism and discrimination he faces. After reading this book, it was clear for Kewish “how much more we should be doing for our veterans…not just disabled, but all of our veterans.”
The student body, the staff and the faculty on campus have been talking about “Until Tuesday.” It was chosen to get people talking about the treatment of veterans and the struggles they face when returning home.
This year almost a dozen book clubs from Cumberland County and surrounding counties called Kewish, asking what book the committee chose. People from the community waited for the book announcement because of the prestige OBOC has accumulated. After the announcement of this year’s book, Kewish was receiving calls “within 2-3 weeks…from both faculty and staff about how appreciative they were, what they got out of it, how much they enjoyed it and how much they want to talk about it.” Each author of the chosen book visits our campus. He or she speaks to students and community members and signs books.
Luis Carlos Montalván will be visiting CCC on Oct. 29. Students, faculty and community members who are interested in participating in this free event can purchase the book in the college bookstore for $15.00 and come to the auditorium in the Fine and Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. Mary Herlihy, Director of Paralegal Studies, will be speaking and introducing Montalvan. It was Herlihy who suggested the book to the committee, but her daughter, Erin, had started the conversation. OBOC looks for books like this that are so influential, emotional and important that it travels from daughter to mother, from professor to campus and from campus to community.
OBOC’s hope is to introduce students, faculty and the community to books that will make them question, discuss and think about their position on important issues.