The St. Bonaventure University community will welcome social entrepreneur and author Adam Braun to campus Monday, Sept. 29. Braun’s memoir, “The Promise of a Pencil” is this year’s All Bonaventure Reads selection for new students.
Released in March, “The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change,” chronicles Braun’s journey to find his calling. Each chapter describes “one clear step that every person can take to turn your biggest ambitions into reality.” For Braun, that meant taking a leap of faith to give up a job in high finance to found PencilsofPromise.org in 2008.
Braun’s approach that blends nonprofit idealism with for-profit business principles has led Pencils of Promise to successfully break ground on more than 200 schools in some of the poorest regions in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The organization has also expanded to offer scholarships for students to attend school, teacher training, and water and health programs to keep students healthy.
During his Sept. 29 campus visit, Braun will be welcomed into classrooms and small-group discussions throughout the day. He’ll talk about profit and passion with freshmen and faculty from the School of Business; writing and publishing with freshman journalism students; and global education with freshman education students and faculty.
Braun will address the Class of 2018 during a 7 p.m. program in the Reilly Center Arena. The talk is free and open to the public. Afterward, Braun will sign books in the University Bookstore.
“‘The Promise of a Pencil’ resonated with the Class of 2018 and St. Bonaventure community members, especially by Adam Braun’s literary technique of titling each chapter with a lesson he has learned,” said Jean Trevarton Ehman, director of the university’s Teaching and Learning Center and chair of the All Bonaventure Reads Committee. “We selected the title of ‘Promise’s’ epilogue as our Class of 2018 mantra: ‘Make Your Life a Story Worth Telling,’ as we thought it matched our Franciscan values plus would capture the enthusiasm of our college freshmen.”
First-year students were given copies of “The Promise of a Pencil” during summer orientation and asked to read the book prior to the start of the fall semester. Students are engaged in conversations about the book’s themes in their University 101 course and various campuswide events during the 2014-2015 academic year. University 101: Skills for the Good Journey is a one-credit course for all first-year students that helps them make the most of their freshman year. It combines specific academic topics, general study skills and content from the All Bonaventure Reads text.
Chris Brown, director of the university’s First-Year Experience program, has been struck by the way St. Bonaventure students have embraced the book’s theme to search for purpose in their lives.
“In my UNIV 101 class, many students are exploring their passion for their chosen fields and critically examining why they have decided to embark on their current journey,” Brown said. “They are embracing the importance of discovering purpose and passion while establishing the foundations for a truly happy life.”
In conjunction with the All Bonaventure Reads program, The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at the university is hosting an interactive “All Bona Reads” exhibition that addresses cross-cultural connections and how a freshman at SBU can get involved. In addition, as part of a Freshman Day of Service, incoming students brought in school supplies and assembled packs for refugee children being served by Saint’s Place in Rochester.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. We are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
St. Bonaventure has chosen the nonfiction book “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson as its common read for 2015-2016. This All Bonaventure Reads selection explores the inequity embedded in the U.S. criminal justice system.
“Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” was released in October and focuses mainly on the work of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., a legal practice Stevenson founded as a young lawyer that is dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need.
One of Stevenson’s first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. It transformed the lawyer’s understanding of mercy and justice forever and illustrates numerous ongoing challenges in work advocating for social justice.
About the author
7 p.m. | Monday, Oct. 26
Address by: Anthony Ray Hinton (above, right), an exonerated death row inmate, and Charlotte Morrison, senior attorney with the Equal Justice Initiative
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