The Bloggers

Welcome to the UM-Flint Common Read Blog for Jonathan Kozol’s Fire in the Ashes: Twenty Five Years among the Poorest Children in America! The contributing bloggers this year are are UM-Flint students, an alumni and a Dual Enrollment Educational Partership (DEEP) student giving a breadth of perspective across age groups and diverse disciplines.


Charles Banks

imageCharles is a junior at UM-Flint awaiting entry into the Social Work program. In the past he has worked on sports blogs and is interested in turning his blogging experience toward this year’s Common Read project.

Mariana Barillas

Barillas, Mariana_PortraitMariana is a Political Science major in her final year at UM-Flint. Having always had an interest in social and public policy issues, she has been politically active in her community and beyond throughout her college years. She became involved in this year’s Common Read Project because Fire in the Ashes focuses on the complex socioeconomic issues that have always fascinated her.

Grace Carey

10514724_703198743083430_6918168975840934812_nGrace is a recent graduate from UM-Flint and a practicing anthropologist and poet. She has been intimately involved in the Common Read project over the past three years helping coordinate and participate in the events surrounding Danticat’s Brother I’m Dying, Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and Waldman’s The Submission. Grace is very excited to continue exploring the interactions the Common Read project encourages amongst students, faculty, and staff, as well as the surrounding community. Kozol’s Fire in the Ashes is a fascinating look into the reality of poverty within the United States,a topic that is sure to be all too familiar, and is sure to bring about a storm of social justice awareness on campus.

Ahliyah Fair

Kathryn Farkas

kathrynKathryn is a senior in the Honors Program studying Public Administration and Women and Gender Studies.  She has been involved in the Common Read Project for two years now as an Orientation Leader who has had the pleasure of introducing all of the new, First-Year students to the Common Read idea and selected text.  Projects like this are so important for starting conversations, exploring different perspectives, and connecting with your fellow community members.  As a social justice advocate on campus, Kathryn strongly encourage you, to not just pick up the text and read it, but to participate in our events, pass it along, and engage your friends and family members in a dialogue about it.  She looks forward to seeing you at the events and in the blog, and Go Blue!

Kayla Fenner

blog picKayla is a junior majoring in Social Work. She is a remarkable woman and a proud foster parent with the Department of Human Services. Currently, she is focusing her studies on children and families as well as community development. Kayla chose to participate in the blog for Fire in the Ashes because the stories Kozol writes about reflect aspects of her daily line of work. Furthermore, she believes, “text books can only prepare me so much for the line of work I will be entering into, however, books such as Fire in the Ashes expose the reality that my clients are living. Kozol makes a more personal connection to these families and their situation”.

Alex Giddings

Shaquille Greene

shaqShaquille is a 23 year old native of Flint, MI. and is currently a graduating senior at the University of Michigan-Flint studying Elementary Education with concentrations in Math, Language Arts, and a specialization in Early Childhood Education. Deeply involved on campus, he has had the opportunity to serve in many leadership roles in the past such as an Orientation Leader, Diversity Council representative, Student Government’s Director of Student Relations, Domestic representative on the International Center Advisory Board, and President of the Black Student Union. Shaquille is also a member of Smart Teachers as Role-Models (STAR) which is an organization dedicated to preparing underrepresented males to become teachers. He has incorporated his passion of social justice and teaching within the different hats he wears at this institution. Throughout his involvement on campus he has recently been known most for student activism. Presently, Shaquille is residing in New York City for his last semester because he is student teaching in Harlem with kindergartners and first graders.

Mary Kelly

Amanda Kimberly

Amanda KimberlyAmanda is an Art History major, Spanish minor, super-Senior at U of M-Flint. Fall 2014 will (fingers-crossed) be her last semester as an undergrad. She is hoping to continue her education to pursue becoming an Art History college professor. This includes about another bajillion years of college, give or take, Amanda says; “it’s a good thing I am a huge art history nerd and can’t get enough of college!” When it comes to non-academic endeavors, Amanda has a part-time job working at a county health plan and is also heavily involved at her church running the computer, teaching Christian Ed, and toilet scrubber. She loves every bit of how busy she is and, frankly, wouldn’t know what to do if shehad an hour of free time.

Debra McGee

Mary Rousseau

Elena Sobrino

IMG_7377Elena is a senior currently finishing up a dual-degree in both Music and Anthropology at UM-Flint. She’s interested in this year’s common read because Kozol touches on cultural and political themes in his writing that she is excited to explore in more depth using the theoretical tools her social science classes have given her.




If you are interested in joining the Common Read Blog as a guest blogger, please email Rushika Patel ( and/or Grace Carey (