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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Texas State says farewell to Common Experience


Former Director of Common Experience Twister Marquiss (left) and Common address questions, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, at Strahan Arena.

After nearly two decades of impressive accomplishments and unwavering commitment to the Texas State community, Common Experience is coming to an end.
“Sadly, beginning this June, the Common Experience and Common Reading programs will no longer be happening at Texas State,” Erika Nielson, Ph.D., director of the Common Experience, said.
The Common Experience Committee has not yet been told what prompted this decision, but its members hope to get answers soon.
The program, which has been recognized both statewide and nationally, has just under a month left to carry out its legacy, and Nielson is reflecting on its accomplishments and dedicated mission throughout the years.
The program was recently named the number one academic support program in Texas, a feat it was able to accomplish despite a low budget.
Common Experience’s low budget has not held it back from success. The program has labored to serve its community while executing a lot with a little.
Since its creation in 2004, Common Experience has always kept one idea at the forefront of its operation.
“We hope to welcome first-year students. That’s our primary goal,” Nielson said. “Events are for everyone, but we really want to focus on creating a community for our newest students.”
The program has consistently offered students, faculty, staff and community members 200-300 events per year, according to Nielson. She said those events are thoughtfully geared toward a common theme, and they all have a shared goal of support and conversation. The theme for the 2022-2023 school year is Systems Thinking.
As rewarding and uplifting as a good turnout can be, the committee’s biggest priority lies in what attendees take away from the events.
Common Experience has done much more than host events. It is part of the mandatory university seminar course, US1100, and Nielson has strived in her time as the director to make the Common Reading book presented in the course both resourceful and enjoyable for students.
When planning past US1100 courses, Nielson would ask students directly what they want to get out of Common Experience and the Common Reading book. Whether it was through traditional lectures and textbooks, podcasts, blogs or documentaries, Nielson wanted students to be engaged and interested so they could learn to the best of their abilities.
The Common Experience team values students, and they have always communicated directly with them to cater to their interests and needs. Their long-lasting success, in part, is due to their endless student feedback.
Isabella Moran, a marketing senior, said she is sad to see Common Experience go. She said US1100 gave her the opportunity to make new friends who she still keeps in touch with.
“I like that we have that class just to get to know each other,” Moran said.
Moran also found Common Experience events to be beneficial and intriguing. The most memorable event for her was attending the LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series in 2019 where Common, an Emmy, Grammy and Oscar winner, spoke.
“I thought it was really exciting that they got someone so well known to come to our school because that doesn’t really happen,” Moran said. “I found it very interesting just because it was another source of education that was, like, given to us, and we get those tickets for free since we’re students.”
Although Common Experience won’t be here next semester, US1100 and the LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series will still continue and be available to the community.
Since 2005, Common Experience has invited important and well-known figures to speak about various topics and experiences for its LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series. Past speakers include Maya Angelou, John Quiñones, Isabel Allende, Michelle Obama and Common.
Keke Palmer was set up to be Common Experience’s next guest speaker, Moran said. The event was called off just days before its announcement after the Common Experience committee was notified that this semester will be the program’s last.
Moran, who has worked with people involved with Common Experience, learned about the Keke Palmer event from Nielson in the Undergraduate Academic Center, where Moran works and Nielson’s office is located.
“It would be a good idea to bring her because she’s doing very well in her career, and I think a lot of people can take away from that,” Moran said.
Unfortunately, students will not get that opportunity, but the calling-off of the event is not related to Common Experience’s abrupt end, Nielson said.
Like Moran, Maria Reese, a computer science freshman, believes US1100 benefited her as a first-year student.
“It taught me about the campus,” Reese said. “I think it’s useful. It taught me about resources. It taught me about a lot of resources.”
Reese attended her first Common Experience event, “Learning to Manage Your Stress,” last Monday in LBJ. Nielson said spring events will continue to happen as scheduled until the end of this semester.
Nielson is proud of what she and the Common Experience Committee have been able to accomplish in the time they were given, but she wishes they had more of it. The team remains committed to doing everything it can in the time leading up to the program’s last day.
The Common Experience Committee will have its final meeting and reception on May 2. The committee will award significant contributors from over the years and celebrate the program’s accomplishments. The location is to be determined.
“There will be remarks at [6 p.m.], but there’ll be a come-and-go event from [5-8 p.m.] to remember and celebrate what we’ve done in the past 19 years. 2024 would have been the 20th year anniversary of Common Experience,” Nielson said.
Regrettably, Common Experience will not make it to the outstanding milestone, but it has certainly left its mark on the Texas State community.
For a schedule of Common Experience events for the remainder of the semester, visit https://commonexperience.txst.edu/events.html.
Editor’s Note: The printed version of this article contained mistakes that have now been corrected. These mistakes are:
Common Experience is a part of US1100. US1100 classes are not being canceled. The fall 2023 sections of the course are open for registration.
The Keke Palmer event was not canceled due to the cancelation of Common Experience.
The Final Common Experience Meeting on May 2 will not host previous Common Experience speakers.

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  • Rapper, writer, actor, activist, author and philanthropist Common gives a speech, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, as part of Common Experience’s LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series at Strahan Arena. 

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