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Syracuse University Libraries

Living Library: Previous Living Library Books

The Syracuse University Living Library is an event that encourages people from different backgrounds to talk with and learn from each other in a safe and supportive environment.

2019 Living Library Books




Designing a Universally Accessible Bar


I am a 22 year old, fifth-year industrial and interaction designer in the School of Design in VPA who was born profoundly deaf in both ears. At the age of four, I received a cochlear implant on my left ear, and fully embrace my hearing loss/disability. My passion for inclusivity and universal design stems from the experiences of meeting various people with disabilities growing up. I noticed the inaccessibility we have in the world around us and how the one in five Americans with a disability are underserved. I’m currently tackling a thesis about designing and building a bar catered to those with disabilities. So if you are interested in design x disability or curious about the bar in general, come “read” me!


Determined to Thrive: Cancer, Disability, and Collegiate Dreams


Ever since I was young, I knew I wanted to go to Syracuse University. However, a massive obstacle was thrown in my path in the form of brain cancer. I was able to overcome this obstacle, but complications from the surgery led to me developing an intellectual disability. With this, I thought my dream to attend Syracuse University was over. Fortunately, SU's InclusiveU program reopened the door and gave me my dream back. I want to share with you the road I took to get to SU and all I've been able to accomplish since being here.


The Faces of Organ, Tissue, and Cornea Donation


Since I was twelve years old, I have been dedicated to spreading awareness about the lifesaving connections between strangers and how they can save more than one life. I will talk about my passion for advocating to leave your community in a better place than when you entered it, as well as the benefits from using your personal experiences to contribute to your life and the lives of others.


From Island Girl to Academic Librarian


No one in my family was a librarian, but as a little girl in middle school, I declared it was the only dream for me. I will share my journey from an island girl to surviving as a first-generation college student to thriving as a professional with a master’s degree in library and information science working as an academic health sciences librarian. I lived on St. Thomas and in Seattle, Salt Lake City and now Syracuse with each place offering something different and helping me to understand my place in the world. Being the first is never easy but always necessary. As a result, I can share my narrative with others with the hopes that they will understand they too have what it takes to make their dream a reality.


Gatekeeper at the Crossroads of Life and Death


Life is more fragile and resilient than most people will ever appreciate in this day and age. I spent 12 years as a Coast Guard Flight Mechanic, flying hundreds of Search-and-Rescue cases. While "adrenaline-junkies" try to get close to the intersection of life and death on one side and morticians do the same for the other; First-responders have to operate there consistently and effectively. I'll be discussing my experience as someone whose decisions, actions, and plain, dumb-luck sent a person down one path or the other.


History Worth Mentioning: Intellectual Disability in American History, Higher Education, and Culture


I have spent my career working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in a variety of settings. I believe that the study of IDD is enormously significant, especially in an institution of higher education alongside students and staff with IDD.


Living with Epilepsy


Though diagnosed with epilepsy 35 years ago, I only recently began a deep dive on both the history and our current understanding of the condition. I’d be happy to discuss this alongside the impact it has had on my life from diagnosis at an early age through those super fun teenage years and up to parenthood. I can also talk about the challenges in regards to general health and diet and anything else you might care to know.


My Journey From the Middle East to the U.S.


My father is from Lebanon (Catholic Maronite), and my mother is from Jordan (Greek Orthodox). They met in Kuwait in early 60's, when the country was seeking foreign expertise to help with growth. I was born in Kuwait where I studied Islam in high school as part of the curriculum. I immigrated to the U.S. in 1985 and attended OCC and SU. I then lived in NYC trying to make big on the music scene. In 2008, I attended the Syracuse Regional Police Academy, and I currently work at DPS at SU.


My Unexpected Journey with Cancer


On March 7, 2018, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer; it was caught on my yearly mammogram. It was the beginning of a six-month journey of treatment that began with fear of the unknown but morphed into acceptance, determination and resilience.


Polyamory: Consensual, Ethical, and Responsible Non-Monogamy


I have identified as bisexual for most of my life, yet society enforces dyadic (one person + one partner) relationships as the norm. Is it possible for a person to love two or more individuals simultaneously? How does one acknowledge and overcome jealousy, prevent hurt feelings, and communicate with openness and honesty? Responsible adults who practice polyamory reject the view that exclusivity is necessary for deep, committed, long-term loving relationships, though my partners and I remain monogamous within our triad. We've faced discrimination and inaccurate assumptions about our behaviors and motives. Marriage equality has been granted to most Americans, yet our relationship is still considered a felony according to New York State law. Through it all, even our most skeptical friends and family members see our 15-year relationship as stable, supportive, respectful, devoted, and loving.


Science and Music Redux: Down the "Road Not Taken"—A Second Fork After the First


I’m a scientist who, as I neared retirement from SU, rediscovered the joy of music and transformed myself into a solo jazz guitarist. As part of that journey, I had a luthier make me a custom guitar, which in the last three years served as the focus of a magical-reality genre novel I just finished, Gaspar’s Guitar. I’ll share how I learned to write decent fiction (“rules” do exist!) to achieve new joy in the humanities. At the end of our conversation, I’ll read a short section from Gaspar’s Guitar and play a song from the American Songbook highlighted in it.


Surviving Abuse and Bad Choices to Discover My Strength


I grew up with low self-esteem and little sense of feeling important or loved. I lasted only one year at college and made some really bad choices. By the time I was 23, I found myself married to an abusive alcoholic, while also struggling to raise three daughters under the age of four. I was emotionally and psychologically damaged but eventually discovered that I was much stronger than I ever knew I was. After my divorce, I found a sense of empowerment beyond imagination, and discovered a strength and confidence and sense of self that I thought only others possessed. I am now 73 and have enjoyed an amazing life. We wake every morning with choices about our day; we are in charge. I long ago realized that I have found my pot of gold.


Telling the Untold Story


For several years, I was the post-production supervisor for the PBS current affairs documentary series, Frontline. During this time, the series gained renewed recognition for its quick and comprehensive response to the events leading up to, during, and after 9/11. I will discuss my personal experience engaged in the various stages of production, including how I helped craft Frontline’s collected materials and interviews into a compelling form of storytelling, addressing both the ambitious goals of the show's producers and the rigorous expectations of public television.


Therapy Dogs


Spending time relaxing with a dog, even for a few minutes, can reduce stress levels and improve mood. As a therapy team, I will discuss animal-assisted interventions and how they improve human health and well-being. I will chat about my therapy dog’s background and the steps it took to become a therapy team. During my story, readers will also get a chance to spend time with my therapy dog!


Things That Happened on my Way to American Citizenship


Using reflection, humor and the story telling method, I will share some of my pleasant and painful experiences of thriving to integrate into American life and culture.


The Urban Suburban Student


The Urban Suburban Program in Rochester, NY allows urban children of color to attend some of Rochester's suburban schools. My mother applied for my entry into the program when I was in kindergarten. I was accepted into the program when I was in fifth grade. My journey was hard but rewarding. My resiliency has been refined by my experience of living in an urban area but attending school in a suburb. I want to tell you my hardships, my struggles, and most of all the lessons that I learned.


Zen Practice, Here and Now


What does it really mean to “be Zen about it?” It may not be what you think. As a Zen practitioner of 18 years, I’ve learned it’s not at all like the pop culture version of Zen projects. But it is an amazing journey of seeing things as they really are and letting go of all the things that cause us dissatisfaction. The result is an extraordinary life. Zen has not been in the United States all that long, and so we are all pioneers in creating this thing called Zen in America. My journey began as a Syracuse University student in 1977. I am now one of the Buddhist Chaplains. I’d love to share my journey with you and clear up all the misconceptions about the practice of Zen, here and now.


Human Books 2014-2018

See Previous Human Books for information on our volunteers from our Human Library events from 2014-2018.