Design Innovation Common Reading Challenge

At the start of this semester, The Student Success Program and Design Innovation Initiative partnered to create a unique opportunity for students to creatively express their reactions to the Common Reading Experience.

This year, with the 50th commemoration of May 4, 1970, approaching in 2020, the annual Common Reading Experience created an opportunity to incorporate the books "This We Know" by the late Carole A. Barbato, Laura L. Davis, Ph.D., and Mark F. Seeman, Ph.D., and "Thirteen Seconds: Confrontation at Kent State" by Joe Eszterhas and Michael D. Roberts.

Students were asked to submit reactions in the form of a video, podcast, or Adobe Spark page. Nearly 300 students submitted digital responses. Ten winners were selected and have been awarded $1000 each. Below are the top ten submissions and an honorable mention.

Ayla Danes

Jessalyn Cruz


Katie Carpenter

Kirsten Gude


Miranda Sepulveda

Shiah Kleinman


Veronica Rodriguez

Caitlin Klein


Camryn Calderwood

Dominique Nguyen


Madison Pelle
(Honorable Mention)



The Challenge was launched in partnership with Yvonna Washington-Greer, director of Student Success Programs in the Center for Undergraduate Excellence, J.R. Campbell, Executive Director of the Design Innovation (DI) Initiative, John M. Rathje, Vice President, Information Technology and Chief Information Officer and Mary G. Parker, vice president for Enrollment Management.

Sixteen members of the Design Innovation (DI) team at Kent State conducted the initial review of the nearly 300 submissions from the first-year students. The team selecting the awards was comprised of:

  • Mindy Farmer, Director, May 4 Visitors Center
  • Lori Boes, Assistant Director, May 4 Visitors Center
  • Stephanie D. Smith, Associate Professor, Journalism and Mass Communications
  • Daniel Alenquer, Director of School of Visual Communication Design

Kent State’s May 4 Visitors Center and University Library staff compiled royalty-free content, such as the university’s collection of images, videos and audio clips, for use in student reflections. 

Kent State University’s Design Innovation (DI) Initiative offers courses and curates co-curricular projects, such as the Design Innovation Common Reading Challenge, that function as part of a larger "challenge-based-innovation" strategy. The DI Initiative will open its Design Innovation Hub in Fall of 2020.

For more information about the Common Reading Experience at Kent State, visit  

For more information about the May 4 Visitors Center at Kent State, visit

For more information about the May 4 5oth Commemoration at Kent State, visit