First Year Matters Common Reading “Guardians of the Trees "

Dear New Students, 

The First Year Matters (FYM) Committee is pleased to announce the Common Reading for the incoming Class of 2026:  Guardians of the Trees by Dr. Kinari Webb. 

In her 2021 memoir Guardians of the Trees: A Journey of Hope Through Healing the Planet, Dr. Kinari Webb shares how an undergraduate trip studying orangutans at Gunung Palung National Park in Indonesian Borneo left her “awestruck by the beauty of her surroundings and heartbroken by the rainforest destruction she witnessed”.   Her emerging understanding of the relationship between inadequate local health care and deforestation served as the basis for her work in founding Health In Harmony, a non-profit that combined the health and environmental work she envisioned. 

Dr. Webb will be delivering a keynote address joining us for the FYM program during New Student Orientation and faculty and staff volunteers will be facilitating small group follow up discussions with all incoming students on Thursday, September 1, 2022 (1:30-2:30 PM-Keynote/2:45-4:00 PM Small Group Discussions).   

You will receive the ebook through your portfolio in the coming weeks as well as your first assignment--4 questions that you are required to answer.  The Common Reading response is designed as a tool for you to begin articulating your synthesis of the book and will be made available to the faculty and staff, and that will be facilitating the group discussions during orientation. The submission deadline for the Common Reading responses is 5:00 pm on Friday, August 19. You will need to read the book and submit your response by this date so that you are fully prepared to engage with the material and get the most out of orientation.

If you have any questions, please be in touch with Michael Guerrero, Dean for the Class of 2026, via or the Orientation Interns via  We hope that you enjoy this summer “reading” and we very much look forward to discussing the film with you. We are thrilled that you will be joining this wonderful community.


Kevin M. Butler, 

First Year Matter Committee, Chair