Loyola University Maryland


Common Text

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Book Cover Picture of Dear America by Jose Antonio Vargas

During their time on campus, the Class of 2024 will join the Loyola community in exploring what it means to be an Ignatian Citizen. The Loyola University Strategic Plan, 2017-2022 describes Ignatian citizens as people who "think of themselves as part of something larger, as responsible for the betterment of our shared world…. who think and act for the rights of others, especially the disadvantaged and the oppressed.” As Ignatian Citizens living in the United States during a presidential election year, we must recognize that the electorate is polarized by a range of political, economic and humanitarian issues. Perhaps no other issue in the United States has been more of a touchstone for debate over the last century as immigration. To better understand the complexities of immigration, we have selected Jose Antonio Vargas’ Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen as the 2020 Loyola Common Text.

From Harper Collins Publishers:

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen is an urgent, provocative and deeply personal account from Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who happens to be the most well-known undocumented immigrant in the United States. Born in the Philippines and brought to the U.S. illegally as a 12-year-old, Vargas hid in plain-sight for years, and went on to write for some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country while lying about where he came from and how he got here. After publicly admitting his undocumented status—risking his career and personal safety—Vargas has challenged the definition of what it means to be an American. Both a letter to and a window into Vargas’s America, Dear America is a transformative argument about migration and citizenship, and an intimate, searing exploration on what it means when the country you call your home doesn’t consider you one of its own.

Loyola faculty members, administrators, and students chose this book largely because of the powerful message the book sends about the human desire to belong. Jose Antonio Vargas recounts his experiences with family, education, work and the psychological trauma caused by not having a home. He brings into focus what it means to grow up unmoored and invisible, both to others and oneself. 

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen promises an introduction to the depth of thought, imagination, and challenge you can expect from your time at Loyola. We look forward to reading along with you and entering a conversation that enlightens and enriches your college experience.

Members of the Class of 2024 will receive an e-book of Dear America in late June and the text will be integrated into class discussions and programming throughout their first-year experience.

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