Campus & Community

New York Times best-selling author to speak at Palm Beach State

Murray680Liz Murray, author of a best-selling memoir of growing up with drug-addicted parents and overcoming homelessness, will speak at Palm Beach State College Oct. 21-22.

Murray will speak at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 21 in the Meldon Lecture Hall at the Palm Beach Gardens campus, 3160 PGA Blvd. She will speak again at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 22 at the Public Safety Training Center (Room 108) at the Lake Worth campus, 4200 Congress Ave. Students will have an opportunity to ask questions. The event is free and open to the public.

A college-wide committee of about 30 faculty and staff selected Murray’s book, “Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard,” for the First-Year Experience Common Reader Program. Brian Kelley, Lake Worth library director, said almost 3,400 copies of the book have been distributed to students through the First-Year-Experience program, the largest participation ever.

“Students are carrying it around and using it as a conversation starter in addition to class assignment discussions,’’ Kelley said. “The personal motivation that is so movingly portrayed in her book is the perfect example for first-time-in-college students. If Liz Murray can achieve as much as she has after overcoming her background and obstacles anything is possible. I truly believe that ‘Breaking Night’ has already made a difference in our students’ lives. Her presentations will give students an additional opportunity to be even more inspired.”

Murray, who routinely ate from dumpsters and sought refuge at all-night subway stations to survive, was homeless at age 15 and fending for her life. Determined not to be defined by her circumstances, she recognized education as the key to a fresh beginning and a new way of living. She earned her high school diploma in just two years and won a scholarship to Harvard University, turning her circumstances into possibilities. She received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 2009 and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in psychology at Columbia University. She is the subject of Lifetime Television’s Emmy-nominated original film, “Homeless to Harvard,” and her memoir published in 2010 was an instant success, making the New York Times’ best-seller list the first week of release.

The College had partnered for years with “Read Together Palm Beach County,” a program sponsored biennially by the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County. On years when that event was not held, the College began holding its own event. Three years ago, however, the College decided to link the Common Reader Program to its new FYE program designed to help students make a smooth transition to college.

“It’s not unusual for Common Reader programs to be a part of a FYE program,” said Susan Lang, PBSC’s director of College-Wide Student Programs. “I think a lot of students are going to relate to this book because it speaks to how education can help overcome challenges in your life.”

Kelley said he has partnered with the local Stand Up for Kids and Guardian Ad Litem programs that will distribute information about their services at Murray’s lecture on the Lake Worth campus.

For more information, contact Kelley at 561-868-3800.

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