The name Cheryl Strayed may be familiar to honors students. Each week, they gather in the Los Medanos College Honors Center to talk about a particular “Dear Sugar” excerpts from Strayed’s novel “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life” a compilation from her “Dear Sugar” advice column from therumpus.net.
Now, students will be able to meet the author of the columns that have sparked weekly conversations that go beyond academia, addressing personal issues ranging from sexuality, boundaries, and identy.
The LMC Honors program will be presenting a book signing for Strayed’s New York Times Bestselling novel “Wild” at Heritage High School in Brentwood on March 6.
The event starting at 7 p.m. will consist of an audience Q&A, a LMC Honors student performance, and a book signing after the event.
“I’m very excited,” said honors student Andre Thompson. “She’s a famous writer and we’ve heard so much about her because of Jen.”
Getting the best-seller writer to Contra Costa Country was a collaborated effort between students, Honors Director Jen Saito, and LMC Vice President Kevin Horan.
At a book signing in San Francisco, Saito personally delivered letters from students who had been attending the weekly “Dear Sugar” meetings, telling Strayed about how her columns have touched them and inviting her to campus. Stayed immediately agreed to visit LMC.
“The letters were very personal,” explained Saito. “About how “Dear Sugar” has affected their lives.”
While it may be intimidating for some to ask a best-selling author to visit a local community college, going out on a limb was a challenge that paid off for the students who decided to take a chance in trying to convince Strayed to come to LMC.
“What these students have learned,” explained Saito. “Is that you have to face your fear. Here is a great example of students who were scared, and were just going to do it.”
With the help of Kevin Horan, the Wells Fargo Grant, through the LMC Foundation, is funding “A Conversation with Cheryl Strayed”. Since the grant is specific to Brentwood, Heritage High School has agreed to let LMC use their auditorium free of charge, allowing the ticket proceeds to go towards Honors Scholarships for students to go to Yosemite.
“Kevin Horan needs big props,” said Saito. “He really did all the ground work”
Students and faculty who have been involved with “Dear Sugar” have questions of their own to ask of the advice columnist that they have been following for a semester.
“What’s the good balance between listening to your emotions and listening to your brain,” said Thompson.
Co-Director Jeannine Stein also has questions for Strayed, derived from reading “Wild”.
“When I was reading the book, I wondered why she left her recovery from heroin addiction out of the story,” said Stein. “She went from shooting up heroin to hiking and back-packing. What happened in between?”
For students interested in asking Strayed one of their own questions, there are a limited number of free tickets available on a first come, first serve basis in the Honors Center. Otherwise, tickets are $5 for students and $10 for general admission and may be reserved online at www.losmedanos.edu/cherylstrayed. For further information, contact Jen Saito at jsaito.losmedanos.edu.