Summer Reading

‌Class of 2019 Summer Reading Assignment

In order to prepare the Sacred Heart University Class of 2019 for the start of their college careers and for the academic realities of college life, we are announcing our Freshman Summer Reading Assignment. This year, we have chosen a text that offers insight on the importance of external strength and internal willpower.  Please read the text with care, enjoy and think about it, and be prepared to discuss it with classmates and professors when you arrive to begin the fall semester. Be sure to bring the book with you in August.

This year's assigned reading is Wild, by Cheryl Strayed (available at the Sacred Heart University Bookstore)

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

As you can see from the many positive reviews on the cover and inside the book, critics have praised Strayed's memoir. Dani Shapiro from the New York Times Book Review calls it “Spectacular . . . Gripping . . . A breathtaking adventure tale and a profound meditation on the nature of grief and survival . . . A literary and human triumph.” Found in the first selction of her Book Club 2.0 on Wild, Oprah Winfrey states “I was on the edge of my seat. . . . It is just a wild ride of a read . . . stimulating, thought-provoking, soul-enhancing.”  Lastly, the Wall Street Journal describes Wild as “A vivid, touching, and ultimately inspiring account of a life unraveling, and of the journey that put it back together.”

We are pleased to announce that Cheryl Strayed will be speaking on campus to the Sacred Heart University freshman class and to the entire University Community on September 9, 2015.

In addition, we are planning a number of activities for the fall that will link with your Summer Reading, including a series of faculty-led discussions on Wild and its potential impact on our lives both as students and as citizens, along with our Freshman Summer Reading Essay Contest that you will find described in detail on the following page. 

Since this reading is your first “college assignment” at Sacred Heart University, we ask you to approach it as a college student would—be thorough and thoughtful, use your time wisely, and don't make this just a “last minute” task. If you have questions about the reading, the Essay Contest, or  anything else, feel free to contact Dean Bozzone at 203-365-7648 or at

Freshman Summer Reading Essay Contest

We are pleased to announce our third annual Freshman Summer Reading Essay Contest, open to all members of the Sacred Heart University class of 2019 .The general topic of the essay, as you might expect, is our Summer Reading, Wild, by Cheryl Strayed.  In the upcoming months, you will hear the voices of our faculty members and even the voice of Cheryl Strayed herself,  but the discussion stands incomplete without the most important voice of allyour voice, the many voices of the men and women who are the Sacred Heart University Class of 2019

We will be awarding four prizes, and the winners’ names will be announced at the Cheryl Strayed presentation on September 9th.

  • First Prize: $500 (SHU Bookstore Gift Card)
  • Second Prize: $300 (SHU Bookstore Gift Card)
  • Two Honorable Mention Prizes: $100 each (SHU Bookstore Gift Cards)

750-1,000 Words typed/double-spaced.  Entries must be submitted via email as attached Word Documents. All entries must be received by August 7, 2015.  The email address for entries is

The first page of your essay (no cover pages please) should have your full name in the upper left corner and a title centered over the text. Each page should have your last name and the page number in the upper right corner (e.g., Smith-2).

Please use this prompt as a guide as you write. We are not, however, asking simply for answers to the questions in the prompt; instead we are looking for a coherent, intelligent, and logically organized essay that stems from your reading of Strayed's memoir and adds to our understanding of its importance.

As you enter college and after reflecting on your reading of Wild, what can you learn from this book that might be significant as you begin this new chapter in your life?  Our Common Core asks us to consider how we might live lives of meaning and purpose.  From reading the text and considering the issues and complexities Strayed presents, how might it offer us some guidance—or perhaps some warning-- as we embark on our personal journeys toward lives of meaning and purpose? 

All entries must be received by August 7, 2015.

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