Saint Louis University

First-Year Summer Reading Essay Contest

2015 First-Year Summer Reading Essay Contest

All first-year students are invited to enter the First-Year Summer Reading Essay Contest.


• Free use of your spring semester textbooks
• Invitation to attend dinner with the First-Year Summer Reading speaker, Lumah Mufleh.

2015 First-Year Summer Reading Book

Outcasts United is the story of a team of refugee boys, the remarkable woman who coaches them, and the town where they live, a once-sleepy southern hamlet that has been upended by the process of refugee resettlement. It's a story about the challenges posed by our quickly changing world, and one that reminds us of what is possible when we put our values in action. It's a tale about resilience, the power of one person to make a difference and the daunting challenge of creating community in a place where people seem to have little in common.
Luma Mufleh is the inspirational coach of a soccer team called the Fugees-short for refugees. The players on this team come from 28 war-torn countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Congo, Somalia and Sudan. Most of them have endured unimaginable hardship: one young boy was forced by soldiers to shoot his own best friend, another watched his father shot to death, and all have been robbed of their childhood. Mufleh's latest endeavor is building the Fugees Academy, the very first school for refugee boys and girls in the US. The Fugees Academy is an unparalleled opportunity to serve boys and girls in grades six through twelve with an intensive college-prep high school curriculum .In this supportive but challenging environment, the Academy brings together diverse cultures and customs while working to prepare students to build the better life they have only dreamed of.

Essay Prompt

The theme of transition is woven throughout Outcasts United. The stories of the Fugee players and their families highlight feelings of discomfort and fear when facing the unknown presented by major life changes. The citizens of Clarkston also express discomfort and fear while experiencing transitions in the the cultural make-up of the community.
Similarly, students entering Saint Louis University will encounter thoughts, values, beliefs, backgrounds, and experiences that differ from their own. Dealing with the discomfort associated with the unknown is part of the college transition.
Using 2-3 specific examples from the book, discuss the ways in which Outcasts United illustrates the discomfort or fear accompanied with encountering unknown identities. Through examining how the individuals in the book overcome the discomfort, explore what discomfort you can anticipate as you transition to SLU and begin to encounter differing thoughts, values, beliefs, backgrounds, etc. With the spirit of the Oath of Inclusion in mind, how might the University support its students so that they may further embrace the diversity of SLU and the surrounding St. Louis community?

A successful essay will accomplish the following:
• Maintain a clear purpose throughout the entire essay
• Express a unique perspective
• Contain a strong, central thesis
• Use relevant, detailed evidence from the book
• Show pages numbers for textual references
• Demonstrate effective paragraphing (coherence and unity among paragraphs)
• Contain correct grammar and punctuation
• 750 - 1000 words


• Essays must be submitted online by Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Click here to submit your essay through SLU Groups


Contact the Student Involvement Center at or 314-977-2805


Student Involvement Center, Academic Support, Barnes and Noble College Bookstore

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