Skip To Content

The Next Chapter is Westminster's summer reading program for all incoming first-year students. The summer reading program is a collaborative effort of the Division of Student Affairs and the Inquiry Program and provides an enjoyable way for students to continue to hone their critical thinking skills during the summer through the exploration for a selected literary work. This summer, entering first year students will be reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a remarkable story of how the first human cell lines were developed for use in scientific research.

After arriving on campus, new students will discuss The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks during the Fresh Start Orientation. Across the fall semester, the College will host an array of campus-wide co-curricular activities in connection with The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks such as expert panels and guest speakers. Elements of the book may also be a topic of discussion in select classes across campus.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Author Rebecca Skloot passionately illustrates how in their quest to advance science, the medical community runs the risk of exploiting those upon whom their research relies, those who have little or no voice in the process. This detailed account balances the experiences and perspectives of Henrietta Lacks, her family, and the medical professionals who attempt to unravel the importance and mortality of the HeLa cell line.

Comments from Across the Nation

"A work of both heart and mind, driven by the author's passion for the story, which is an endlessly renewable as HeLa cells." - Los Angeles Times

"A real-life detective story, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacksprobes deeply into racial and ethical issues in medicine...The emotional impact of Skloot's tale is intensified by its skillfully orchestrated counterpoint between two worlds. - Nature

"Remarkably balanced and nonjudgmental...The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lackswill leave readers reeling, plain and simple. It has a power and resonance rarely found in any genre, and is a subject that touches each of us, whether or not we are aware of our connection to Henrietta's gift." - The Oregonian


A copy of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks will be given to all newly entering first year students (class of 2019) during the New Titan Days. Students who do not attend New Titan Days should contact Ms. Amy Deems at 724.946.7244 or deemsal@westminster.edu to make arrangements to secure their copy.