Common Intellectual Experiences

In addition to high impact instructional experiences and pedagogical research, faculty and the campus community at large are engaging in large-scale discussions about issues challenging community colleges in general and Queensborough in particular.


The Common Read is a Common Intellectual Experience that promotes integrative learning across the curriculum. This is accomplished through voluntary participation of faculty, both on campus and in local high schools, who introduce the text to their students and support the reading with co-curricular events. The events provide an opportunity for increased social and academic engagement while enhancing student learning outside of the classroom.

2014-2015 Common Read
Featured text: Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living with Joy, by Susan Spencer-Wendel with Bret Witter

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Queensborough faculty members and their students will read Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living with Joy in classes in the spring 2015 semester. They will be joined by classes from Bayside High School, Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School and the CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP). All students will participate in co-curricular activities.

Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living with Joy is a moving and inspirational memoir by Susan Spencer-Wendel. She was a vibrant forty-four year old journalist, wife and mother of three young children who learned that she had ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), an irreversible condition that systematically destroys the nerves that power the muscles, in June of 2011. Despite her diagnosis, this woman of immense strength and spirit decided to make every day count. Her memoir invites readers to join her on her journey, sharing her guiding desire to “dwell on how wonderful it is to be alive.” Her remarkable story has spread across the world even though the author died in June of 2014, at the age of forty-seven.

The theme of this year’s Common Read initiative is “empathy”. We hope not only to share the author’s story, but to prompt the campus community to think outside of themselves, to imagine living in a situation different from their own, promoting an increased awareness and willingness to aid others.

For additional information regarding this initiative please contact Ms. Susan Madera, Academic Program Manager for High Impact Practices and Common Read Coordinator at smadera@qcc.cuny.edu or Dr. Beth Counihan, Associate Professor, English, and Common Read Book Club Coordinator, at bcounihan@qcc.cuny.edu.

Common Read Events for Spring 2014

Week 1 Events (March 2 - 6, 2015)

Monday - March 2, 2015, 8:10 am to 10:00 am
Dr. Kathleen Alves' English Composition II Class to Present: "Social Models of Disability: Representations of the Diseased and Decaying Body in Culture"
When we think about disability, we tend to think of the medical model. What about the social model—or how the social world constructs the person as disabled? Historically, the greater cultural pattern sees the disabled as Other, something to be covered up, fascinated with, or both. Join us as we explore and evaluate social models of disability and how social constructions of the (normal) self depend on constructions of the disabled in this workshop.
Library Building, Room LB14

Monday - March 2, 2015, 12:10 pm to 2:00 pm
Movie Event - "Pay it Forward"

A young boy attempts to make the world a better place after his teacher gives him that chance. It stars Haley Joel Osment as a boy who launches a good-will movement.
Library Building, Room LB14

Monday - March 2, 2015, 2:10 pm to 5:00 pm
Drop-In Read Aloud

Bring your copy of "Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living With Joy" by Susan Spencer-Wendel, drop-in and join us as we enjoy reading the text aloud. Don't have a copy? Loaner copies will be available for your use.
Library Building, Room LB8

Tuesday - March 3, 2015, 10:10 am to 12:00 pm
Dr. Anthony Monahan presents: "Leaving Yourself Behind: Attaining Higher-Level Empathy and Understanding"
This lecture will introduce the biological basis for empathy and explore specific developmental levels of empathy and how one can improve empathic behavior and understanding.
Library Building, Room LB14

Tuesday - March 3, 2015, 12:10 pm to 2:00 pm
Movie Event - "Pay it Forward"

A young boy attempts to make the world a better place after his teacher gives him that chance. It stars Haley Joel Osment as a boy who launches a good-will movement.
Library Building, Room LB14

Wednesday - March 4, 2015, 12:10 pm to 12:45 pm
Pay It Forward Launch
Science Building, Room S112

Wednesday - March 4, 2015, 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm
Hunger Banquet
The hunger banquet is an interactive teaching demonstration that helps bring awareness of poverty and food distribution patters around the world. Meals will be provided to each participant in proportion to the way food is distributed around the world. By experiencing world conditions, participants will gain a better understanding of the disparity of food and wealth distribution. This event is co-sponsored by NYPIRG, the Office of Student Activities, M.A.L.E.S, Student Government Association and Talk Out Loud club.
Student Union Building

Wednesday - March 4, 2015, 2:10 pm to 4:30 pm
Drop-In Read Aloud

Bring your copy of "Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living With Joy" by Susan Spencer-Wendel, drop-in and join us as we enjoy reading the text aloud. Don't have a copy? Loaner copies will be available for your use.
Library Building, Room LB8

Thursday - March 5, 2015, 2:10 pm to 4:00 pm
Movie Event - Documentary - "So Much So Fast"
What would you do if you were 29 and found you may only have a few years to live? "So Much So Fast" is about the remarkable events set in motion when Stephen Heywood discovers he has ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and his brother Jamie becomes obsessed with finding a cure.
Library Building, Room LB14

Friday - March 6, 2015, 1:10 am to 3:00 pm
Movie Event - Documentary - "So Much So Fast"
What would you do if you were 29 and found you may only have a few years to live? "So Much So Fast" is about the remarkable events set in motion when Stephen Heywood discovers he has ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and his brother Jamie becomes obsessed with finding a cure..
Library Building, Room LB14

Week 2 Events (March 9 - 13, 2015)

Monday - March 9, 2015, 8:10 am to 10:00 am
Movie Event - "Pride of the Yankees"
This biopic traces the life of Lou Gehrig, famous baseball player who played in 2130 consecutive games before falling at age 37 to ALS, a deadly nerve disease which now bears his name. Gehrig is followed from his childhood in New York until his famous "Luckiest Man" speech at his farewell day in 1939.
Library Building, Room LB14

Monday - March 9, 2015, 10:10 am to 12:00 pm
Professor Alisa Cercone presents: "Emotional Response vs. Facts: Empathy goes on Trial"
This event will focus on the conflict between emotional responses and facts when sitting in a court room and reporting on cases. How do court reporters separate their opinions from the facts when writing an article? Join us as we carefully consider courtroom protocol, write our own articles and reflect on the process.
Guest Speaker: The Honorable Arthur F. Engoron, Supreme Court, Civil Branch, New York County
Kupferberg Holocaust Research Center & Archives, Exhibition Area
Video available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEdgHBhpIfo or http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/tigermedia/detailView.aspx?MediaID=2576

Monday - March 9, 2015, 12:10 pm to 2:00 pm
Guest Speaker: Valerie Estess, Co-Founder, Project
A.L.S.
When Jenifer Estess, a 35 year-old New York theatre and film producer, was diagnosed with ALS she decided to devote her remaining time and efforts towards making a difference and finding a cure. Join us as Jenifer's sister and co-founder of Project A.L.S., Valerie Estess, talks about her personal experiences, the formation of Project A.L.S., their mission, research, the Ice Bucket Challenge and what you can do to make a difference.
Kupferberg Holocaust Research Center & Archives, Exhibition Area
Video available at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsYtV9EAS3A or http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/tigermedia/detailView.aspx?MediaID=2577

Tuesday - March 10, 2015, 8:10 am to 10:00 am
Movie Event - "Pride of the Yankees"
This biopic traces the life of Lou Gehrig, famous baseball player who played in 2130 consecutive games before falling at age 37 to ALS, a deadly nerve disease which now bears his name. Gehrig is followed from his childhood in New York until his famous "Luckiest Man" speech at his farewell day in 1939.
Library Building, Room LB14

Wednesday - March 11, 2015, 12:10 pm to 2:00 pm
Religious Clubs Roundtable: "Perspectives on Death and Dying"
Join us as members of Queensborough's student clubs - The Muslim Association and the Newman Club, among others - share their religion's perspective on the purpose and meaning of life, as well as that inevitable question: "What happens to us when we die?" Students whose religion is not represented on the panel are welcome to share their beliefs as well. Moderator: Dr. Beth Counihan.
Science Building, Room S112

Thursday - March 12, 2015, 3:10 pm to 5:00 pm
Dr. Kathleen Wentrack's History of Photography Class to Present: "Empathy and Art: Images of Illness and Beauty in Photography"

Students will present their research on photographers who specifically address themes of illness or beauty in their work. The students selected photographers based on their personal responses to "Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living with Joy" and classroom discussions on empathy. The presentations aim to foster empathy for those who are ill, suffering, different from ourselves, or whose ideas of beauty fall out of traditional norms. Time will be allotted for discussion.
Kupferberg Holocaust Research Center & Archives, Room A202

Friday - March 13, 2015, 12:10 pm to 2:00 pm
Movie Event - "Pride of the Yankees"
This biopic traces the life of Lou Gehrig, famous baseball player who played in 2130 consecutive games before falling at age 37 to ALS, a deadly nerve disease which now bears his name. Gehrig is followed from his childhood in New York until his famous "Luckiest Man" speech at his farewell day in 1939.
 Science Building, Room S223

Week 3 Events (March 16 - 20, 2015)

Monday - March 16, 2015, 10:10 pm to 12:00 noon
Guest Speakers Katie Bittner and Shirley Mondesir, Staff RNs at North Shore University Hospital's Palliative Care Unit (part of North Shore-LIJ Health System)
If you think that palliative care is for end-of-life care you are greatly mistaken. Join us as we learn about palliative care, the difference between palliative care and hospice care, as well as the importance of empathy in healthcare. Patient scenarios will be presented with an opportunity for audience questions.
Library Building, Room LB14
Video available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YpAFgVson0 or http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/tigermedia/detailView.aspx?MediaID=2591


Monday - March 16, 2015, 12:10 pm to 2:00 pm
Dr. Beth Counihan and Ms. Lauren Most (Continuing Education Teacher - CLIP) present: "Perspectives on Living the Good Life"
Participate in an interactive workshop where parallels will be drawn between two texts: the self-help classic "Tuesdays With Morrie" (Albom, 1997) and the Common Read text "Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living with Joy" (Spencer-Wendel, 2013).
Library Building, Room LB14

Tuesday - March 17, 2015, 10:10 am to 12:00 noon
Nursing Presentation - Professors Kimberly Ambruso, Georgina Colalillo, Patricia Kinneary, Barbara Rome and their students present: "What Kind of Medical Care Would you Want if you were Too Ill or Hurt to Express your
Wishes?"
In a debate, nursing students will discuss the issues of advanced directives and the importance of spelling out decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time.
Library Building, Room LB14
Video available at:  http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/tigermedia/detailView.aspx?MediaID=2583

Tuesday - March 17, 2015, 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Dr. Anthony Monahan's class presents: "Living with Wellness"
Health is more than one's physical condition. It is an assemblage of interrelated dimensions of "wellness." Although protagonist Susan Spencer-Wendel is stuck with the tragic news of incurable ALS, she decides to live the rest of her life "with joy." HE-102 students will break down Susan's experiences and encounters through the lens of wellness.
RFK Building, Room G201

Wednesday - March 18, 2015, 10:10 am to 11:30 am
Students in Dr. Sara Danzi-Engoron's Genetics Class Present: "Genes and Disease - How Do Genes Affect My Health?"
ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is usually a sporadic disease that is likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. What does this mean exactly? Join us for a presentation about genetic mutations and how they can cause disease. Learn about what genes do and what can happen when things go wrong.
Medical Arts Building, Room 253

Wednesday - March 18, 2015, 12:10 pm to 2:00 pm
Nursing Presentation: Dr. Barbara Blake-Campbell, Professors Kathleen Pecinka, Dee Weber and their students present: "THE EMPATHY FACTOR: The How, When and Why for Health and Well-Being"
"The biggest deficit we have in our society, and the world right now is an empathy deficit. We are in great need of people being able to stand in someone else's shoes, and see the world through their eyes." Barack Obama. In this presentation, our students will take you on a journey to the other side.
Science Building, Room S112

Wednesday - March 18, 2015, 12:10 pm to 2:00 pm
Movie Event: "You're Not You"
Co-sponsored by the QCC Film Club and Counseling Center
In this film, starring Hilary Swank, an accomplished pianist is diagnosed with incurable disease ALS and hires a directionless young woman who becomes her full-time caregiver. The two form a life changing bond inspiring each other to live life to the fullest. A discussion will follow the viewing of this movie.
Science Building, Room S212

Thursday - March 19, 2015, 10:10 am to 11:00 am
"Disability Etiquette"
Guest Speaker:  Ms. Jacqueline Rumolo, Director of Community Affairs and Support Services at Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State
Millions of people around the world have disabilities.  Join us as we learn proper etiquette for interacting with those who are disabled.
Medical Arts, Room M136

Thursday - March 19, 2015, 1:10 pm to 2:00 pm
Dr. Isabella Lizzul and Professor Rezan Akpinar present: "The Healing Power of Touch"
Join us as we learn about both the Eastern and Western point-of-view on healing through touch. Following this presentation, attendees will be able to experience Eastern massage and traditional chair massage.  For individuals who have never had a massage before, these particular sessions for this day will not involve any disrobing.  Massages will be provided by Massage Therapy students in Eastern and Praciticum II in MC09.
Medical Arts, Room S212

Friday - March 20, 2015, 12:10 - 2:00 pm
Common Read Culminating Event
Join us as acclaimed poet Richard St. John reads from his book The Pure Inconstance of Grace, sharing his thoughts on the human condition, suffering, and despair with clear eyed empathy. Students from Dr. Jean Darcy's Freshman Composition classes will exhibit "Images of Moments of Intimacy, Love, and Kindness", reflecting upon the simple connections they make with others in their daily lives. Our poetry contest winners will be announced and celebrated!
Oakland Dining Room
Video available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_yd8et7aRc or http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/tigermedia/detailView.aspx?MediaID=2592


All students are invited to participate in our Common Read Poetry Contest. 

Prizes Awarded:

First place: $100 gift card         

Second place: $75 gift card       

Third place: $50 gift card          

Style of Poetry Accepted: Student's choice
Theme: Empathy
Length: Minimum ten lines, maximum thirty lines
Submit: All entries must be typed and include student name and cell phone number.  No electronic entries accepted. Submit to the English Department, Humanities Building, Room H428
Due Date: March 11, 2015, 5:00 pm

Submissions will be celebrated and winners announced at our Common Read Culminating Event on Friday, March 20th 12:10 pm to 2:00 pm Oakland Dining Room

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS:

First place winner:          Justine Visceglia           "Empathy, to feel"

Second place winner:      Rhmha Hussein             "Can you hear my cries?"

Third place winner:         Daniel Agapitos             "Snow Trek"

Honorable Mention:        Juleime Cepeda             "Wilt"

                                      Lovemy Blanchard          "Untitled"

                                      Asheka Lawrence-Reid    "Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood"

All students listed above will have an opportunity to be published in the Creative Writing Club Literary Journal, Duende, in a special section dedicated to the Common Read poetry contest.

Poetry Contest Finalist Videos

The theme of this year's Common Read initiative is "empathy." We hope not only to share the author's story, but to prompt the campus community to think outside of themselves, to imagine living in a situation different from their own, promoting an increased awareness and willingness to aid others. How will we accomplish this? As a community!

Pay it Forward cards are being distributed to students participating in the Common Read initiative.  Cards are also available in the NYPIRG Office, Student Union Lower Level, the CETL Office, Library Building, Room 314, and at both Starbucks and the Circulation Desk in the Kurt R. Schmeller Library.

Do a good deed, pass on the card and write about it at www.qcc.cuny.edu/qccpif

We will be collecting items to benefit those in need. Collections are co-sponsored by NYPIRG, MALES, the Veteran's Association and the Talk Out Loud Club.  Collections will take place during the entire month of March.  All items may be dropped off at the Student Union Lower Level or the CETL Office, Library Building, Room 314.

Canned goods for The Church of the Resurrection.

Eyeglasses for The Lions Club

Women's Toiletries for The LifeWay House. 

Student Projects HERE

Common Read Book Club Dates and Times

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 3:00 to 5:00 pm
Common Read Book Club Meeting I
Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center & Archives, Classroom

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 12:10 to 2:00 pm
Common Read Book Club Meeting II

Library Basement, Room 6
Guest Speakers: Dr. Anthony Monahan

Monday, November 17, 2014 3:00 to 5:00 pm
Common Read Book Club Meeting III

Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center & Archives, Classroom

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 3:00 to 5:00 pm
Common Read Book Club Meeting IV

Library Building, Room 313


Go to Common Read Past Events