Loyola University Maryland


Common Text

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Book Cover for The Master Plan by Chris Wilson and Brett WitterDuring their time on campus, the Class of 2025 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 citizens living and learning in Baltimore in 2021, we must grapple with the gritty realities that contribute to systemic inequality in our city and beyond. To better understand the complexities of racism, mass incarceration and the systemic challenges returning citizens face, we have selected The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose by Chris Wilson and Brett Witter as the 2021-2022 Loyola Common Text. 

From Random House Publishers: 

Growing up in Washington, DC, Chris Wilson was surrounded by violence and despair. He watched his family and neighborhood shattered by trauma, and he lost his faith. One night when he was seventeen, defending himself, he killed a man. He was sentenced to life in prison with no hope of parole. 

But what should have been the end of his story became the beginning. Behind bars, Wilson embarked on a remarkable journey of self-improvement–reading, working out, learning languages, even starting a business. At nineteen, he sat down and wrote a list of all the things he intended to accomplish, and all the steps he’d have to take to get there. He called it his Master Plan. He revised that plan regularly and followed it religiously. Sixteen years later, it led him to an unlikely opportunity–and to a promise he has been working hard to live up to every day since. Harrowing, heartbreaking, and ultimately triumphant, The Master Plan is a memoir for this moment, proving that every person is capable of doing great things

Loyola faculty members, administrators, and students chose this book largely because of the message Chris’s story offers about the inherent dignity of each person, the process of redemption and the practice of discernment.  Beyond Chris’s personal journey, his experiences with the criminal justice system and as an entrepreneur in Baltimore reinforces the need for all of us to all to actively combat injustice and positively contribute to our communities. 

The Master Plan 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 2025 will receive an e-book of The Master Plan in late June and the text will be integrated into class discussions and programming throughout their first-year experience. 

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