St. Bonaventure has chosen the nonfiction book “The Promise of a Pencil” by social entrepreneur Adam Braun as the 2014-15 All Bonaventure Reads selection and plans to welcome the author to campus this fall.
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.”
Even at the age of 16, Braun was working summers at hedge funds with career sights set on Wall Street. But while traveling as a college student, he met a young boy begging on the streets in India. When he asked the child what he would want if he could have anything in the world, his answer was simple: a pencil. That answer changed Braun’s life.
Even as he returned to the U.S. to complete his bachelor’s degree at Brown University, then headed to a top management-consulting firm, Braun didn’t stop questioning why he had access to quality education in a safe environment while millions of children around the world lived without basic needs.
Three years later, in 2008, Braun left his job in high finance and founded Pencils of Promise, a not-for-profit that builds schools, offers scholarships and trains teachers in developing countries.
About the author
By Emily Steves, '15
After reading the 2013 All Bonaventure Reads book “Full Body Burden,” each freshman University 101 class presented its own spin on the book at this year’s First-Year Experience Poster Conference.
The Kristen Iversen book is the memoir of a woman who grew up in a Colorado town near the infamous Rocky Flats, a former secret nuclear weapons plant once described as “the most contaminated site in America.”
The environmental aspect of the memoir didn’t deter students who aren’t necessarily engaged in environmental studies.
“The students adapted the book to their majors,” said Chris Brown, director of FYE. “They picked up on a wide variety of themes and diversified their topics –– it was fantastic.”
Each class had a table set up in the Robert R. Jones Trustees Room, with the capability to present their ideas through any medium.
With a mix of physical education and sport studies majors, Lance Hardy’s class did a documentary and PowerPoint presentation on wellbeing for those who come in contact with environmental issues.
Dr. Imhoff’s class of undeclared majors hit home by choosing to highlight the federal cleanup of the West Valley Demonstration Project site.
“In our backyard, we have the same problem,” said Imhoff of the site, located about halfway between Olean and Buffalo.
“I thought the book was interesting with how (Iversen’s) life kind of weaved through it with her alcoholic father and family ties,” said Noah Burton, a political science major in Imhoff’s class.
Journalism major Madeleine Faircloth disagreed. “The book was kind of choppy,” she said.
Classmate Gabriel LaMarca agreed.
“It would have been more interesting if she (Iversen) had split her personal life from the environmental aspect,” he said.
The University 101 class taught by Madeleine Gionet, a graduate student in the Integrated Marketing Communications program, won the friendly competition.
“We did a video kind of like the ABC News show ‘What Would You Do?’ but in Bonaventure-style,” said Gionet. “We created different scenarios to see how students would react and asked them questions about how they would handle different ethical situations.”
“It was actually a very close competition,” said Brown. “Three other sections tied for second place.”
But the competition didn’t take precedence for some students.
“(ABR) brings the whole class together,” said psychology major Gregory Winters.
Adam Braun will speak with clusters of students throughout the day and conclude his visit with an evening freshman address at 7 p.m. in the Reilly Center Arena. His talk is free and open to the public.
(Dates and titles to be announced in early September)
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