First Year Experience Program
This program is a requirement for all incoming first-time first-year students at Worcester State University. It includes an academic first year seminar, an English composition course linked to each seminar, and an X hour led by peer mentors. The program is designed to achieve the following broad program goals:
- Facilitate student growth: academic, intellectual, personal, and social
- Facilitate student transition from high school to college
- Promote learning and achievement
- Promote community engagement
First-year seminars (FYS) at Worcester State University are academic seminars on varied topics. They are a requirement of the Liberal Arts and Sciences Curriculum (LASC). First-year seminars motivate intellectual inquiry and growth, encourage personal and social exploration, and lead students to question and understand the workings of society and their communities. First-year seminars introduce students to college-level learning and facilitate student transition from high school to college. Strong emphasis is placed on creating a community of learners and all first year seminars are learner-centered. First year seminars encourage active, reflective learning, and enhance students’ critical thinking, information literacy, and written and oral communication skills.
English composition courses (EN 101, EN 102 or EN 250 for Honor students) satisfy the writing component of the LASC. Students in each first year seminar take the same English composition course. In some cases, there is more than simply a linkage between these courses. In these special cases, there is a learning community formed between the FYS and the English course, which typically means that these two courses will have common assignments and activities, and will integrate student learning.
X hour is one hour per week that is blocked (X'd) off on first year students' schedules for their first semester (it is listed in the meeting times of the First Year Seminar). This hour is dedicated to college adjustment issues, the common reading book discussion, and campus activities. Many X hour activities are led by peer mentors who are WSU student leaders who have successfully completed the FYE program and are eager to share their knowledge of the institution and help first-year students transition to college life. The X hour counts for at least 5% of the FYS grade.
The Common Reading was instituted in 2011. The WSU Theme Semester provides common curricular and co-curricular experiences for all students and links first-year students to the WSU community even before they arrive on campus. All first year students need to complete the common book in the summer before enrolling at WSU. The book will be discussed in the X hour. The 2012 common reading is the critically acclaimed The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2010).
About The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks:
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance.
Soon to be made into an HBO movie by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball, this New York Times bestseller takes readers on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers filled with HeLa cells, from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia, to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. It’s a story inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we’re made of.
All first year students should purchase and read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks over the summer of 2012.
This book is available at most large bookstores and as an e-book through Amazon, etc.