Life of the Mind Book Author Visits with Freshmen

Tracy Kidder with freshmen

Tracy Kidder, author of this year’s Life of the Mind book, Mountains Beyond Mountains, visited UT Knoxville Sept. 2-3 to speak to freshmen.

Now in its seventh year, the Life of the Mind program encourages all first-year students to read a common book during the summer, submit a creative response and then participate in discussion groups led by faculty and staff during their first week on campus.

On the first day of his visit, Kidder gave a lecture and signed copies of his book. He talked about what it was like to get to know Dr. Paul Farmer, who founded Partners in Health and has worked extensively to improve health conditions in some impoverished areas of Haiti, Peru, and Russia.

Mountains Beyond Mountains is the biography of Farmer, and it features themes that include Haiti, health, poverty, science, and religion.

On the second day of his visit, Farmer had breakfast with some of the students who submitted the best creative responses to Mountains Beyond Mountains. After reading the book during the summer, students submitted their responses in the form of essays, poems, artwork, original songs, multimedia presentations, etc.

The grand prize winner, who received an iPad, was Jan Urbano for his colored pencil drawing.

The first runners-up, who each received an iPod Touch were Marianela D’Aprile for her watercolor book and essay, Kyle West for his original song, Elise Heuberger for her essay, and Amanda Mitchell for her photo collage video.

The second runners-up, who each received a $50 UT Bookstore gift certificate, were Austen Ashworth for her poem, Matthew Reecer for his P-O-V-E-R-T-Y multimedia presentation, Kyoungho Cho for his graphic design, Jaclyn Earle for her pen and ink drawing, and Kelsey Walton for her poetic composition.

To view these projects and more, visit the Life of the Mind student project website.

Kidder concluded his time at UT by meeting with honors students and a group of communications students.

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