Come the chancellor’s convocation, every first-year student at the University of Wisconsin will be handed a book about a girl that stood up for education in her home country and was shot in the head by the Taliban at the age of 15.
Malala Yousafzai, now a 17-year-old Pakistani education activist will be UW’s 2014 “Go Big Read” author with her memoir, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. ”
“Go Big Read,” is a campus reading program that selects a book each year for the entire campus to read and helps coordinate discussions and other events related to the book.
Freshmen will receive a free copy of the book at the chancellor’s convocation for incoming students. Other students who will need the book in a class can get a free copy, as well.
Patrick McBride, associate dean of the School of Medicine and Public Health and member of the “Go Big Read” selection committee, said each year, the chancellor selects an overarching theme for the program, and after getting nominations, selects the “Go Big Read” book.
McBride said this year’s theme was “service.”
“We tried to find books that would inspire students and reach across the entire breadth of the student body to resonate with all the different students and departments,” McBride said. “What we’re asking is that the whole campus read the book — and even beyond that, the whole city.”
“I Am Malala” is the true story of a father and a daughter in Pakistan who promoted the education of young girls while living under the rule of the Taliban, a group that opposed women’s education, McBride said.
Yousafzai has continued her humanitarian work promoting women’s education after writing the book. She has been named among TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world and was even nominated for a Nobel Prize, McBride said.
The story inspires any reader to recognize that any individual has the ability to make a difference if they have courage and conviction, he said.
“If we just do what we believe in, we can really change the world,” McBride said. “I think that’s the true message of inspiration here.”
UW and the Go Big Read program will be working during the school year to sponsor and coordinate several discussions and events related to the book and its message, said Sheila Stoeckel, who co-leads the “Go Big Read” project.
Although Yousafzai, the author of the book, is currently busy with her own education in England, Shiza Shahid, the CEO and co-founder of the Malala Fund, will come to campus to speak about the book and its impact in the fall, Stoeckel said.
Stoeckel said there will be numerous discussions in the dorms about “I Am Malala” that the “Go Big Read” program will host.
Also, a UW student organization known as “She’s The First” is planning to hold a symposium for the book and Yousafzai, and the UW Lubar Institute for the Study of Abrahamic Religions will also be planning an event, Stoeckel said.
The “Go Big Read” news page has more information related to the book and its selection, and will be posting regular updates about upcoming events and discussions, she said.