Common Read

Finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize

Four undocumented Mexican American students, two great teachers, one robot-building contest . . . and a major motion picture

In 2004, four Latino teenagers arrived at the Marine Advanced Technology Education Robotics Competition at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They were born in Mexico but raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where they attended an underfunded public high school. No one had ever suggested to Oscar, Cristian, Luis, or Lorenzo that they might amount to much—but two inspiring science teachers had convinced these impoverished, undocumented kids from the desert who had never even seen the ocean that they should try to build an underwater robot.

And build a robot they did. Their robot wasn’t pretty, especially compared to those of the competition. They were going up against some of the best collegiate engineers in the country, including a team from MIT backed by a $10,000 grant from ExxonMobil. The Phoenix teenagers had scraped together less than $1,000 and built their robot out of scavenged parts. This was never a level competition—and yet, against all odds . . . they won!

But this is just the beginning for these four, whose story—which became a key inspiration to the DREAMers movement—will go on to include first-generation college graduations, deportation, bean-picking in Mexico, and service in Afghanistan.

Joshua Davis’s Spare Parts is a story about overcoming insurmountable odds and four young men who proved they were among the most patriotic and talented Americans in this country—even as the country tried to kick them out.

Common Read Scholarship 2017

The opportunity to be selected for the Common Read $500 Scholarship is made available to all degree seeking, full-time or part-time NIACC students. One (1) $500 scholarship will be awarded with payment transfered to student’s NIACC account Spring 2018 (student must be enrolled either full or part-time Spring 2018). Application deadline is 11:59 pm on October 9th.

Background – After reading Spare Parts, your ideas or views about immigrants in your community may or may not have changed. As discussed in the book, people such as Barnett, Buchanan, and Arpaio strongly oppose immigrants, and those views remained the same despite their experiences.

Essay Question

How did your opinions and views regarding immigrants and America’s immigration controversy change as a result of reading the book? If they remain unchanged, what factors are influencing your views currently? Based on what you have read in Spare Parts and personal experience, why do you think some people change their views about immigration, while other who live in the same community who have similar experiences do not change their views?

If you have not applied for NIACC Foundation Scholarships in the past, you will need to build an account in Scholarship Manager.