Reading Round-Up School of Undergraduate Studies

Every summer, UT faculty members handpick books for the Reading Round-Up—a campus-wide book club that connects new students with outstanding faculty members and with fellow first-year students who read the same book.

The Round-Up asks faculty to suggest a favorite summer read that can open minds to new ideas or ways of thinking. Students choose a book online, read it over the summer, then meet in small book clubs with the professor who suggested the book, giving students an early glimpse into university life and academic discussion.

The event is entirely voluntary: no grades are awarded. And students say they feel more confident and better prepared for their first day of classes thanks to their introductory classroom experience during the Reading Round-Up.

"I loved sharing ideas with other students and a professor! It made the start of classes extremely exciting, and it was a preview into what the UT learning environment is like." —Reading Round-Up student participant
The before and after—illustrating the creative process for the Reading Round-Up poster by University of Texas at El Paso professor and artist Antonio Castro.

Meet the Artist

Every year, the School of Undergraduate Studies commissions artwork for its annual Reading Round-Up program. This year’s art was created by Antonio Castro.

Tell us a little bit about your career as a designer. How did you get started in the field?

I have been practicing graphic design and illustration for the last 26 years but considering that my father is also an illustrator and a visual artist, I have been in the field of design and illustration for as long as I can remember. My father’s studio was my playground, so I grew up playing with art supplies. I graduated from The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), with a BFA degree with a major in graphic design and a minor in printmaking. After graduating, I interviewed all over the place including several design studios in Austin and San Antonio to no avail.

After obtaining my MFA, I moved to San Francisco to work at a small boutique graphic design firm, from which I was fired if I might add, but right away I was hired by Parham Santana Inc. in New York City. There I learned everything I now know about branding design. After almost three years of working at Parham Santana, I was offered the opportunity to apply for a tenure-track position at my alma mater (UTEP), and I was fortunate to be granted the position and have been teaching there for the last 20 years.


“I could not have hoped for more diversity, thoughtful interactions, and fully engaged students! I have already heard from several of them and believe it was an exceptional time for all of us.” — Dixie Stanforth, professor, Kinesiology and Health Education

Round-Up participant

Josh Liu Reading, Butler School of Music

Josh Liu is a first-year student in the School of Music, pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance. He is also one of more than 900 students who participated in the Reading Round- Up this past August, the day before the start of the fall semester. When asked about his ultimate career goal, Josh credited the influence of the Reading Round-Up: “Based on the book I read, my dream is to change people’s lives through music.”

Josh chose Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance solely because it was available at his local library; he had no idea that the experience would change his mindset and guide his future. “It’s a book about the difference between hard work and talent,” he explained, “and the whole point is to prove that hard work counts twice as much.” Josh described his long-term struggles with procrastination and time management, and said he was regularly spending hours a day playing video games. The book and the professor he discussed it with at the Reading Round-Up helped him realize he wanted to change his habits and priorities. “It taught me you have to finish what you start,” Josh explained. “In a way, it made my passions stronger, because although I knew I could play the violin, I was never truly into practicing and all of it. With my new mindset, I’ve started to be like: OK, I’ve started this journey, I’ve been doing it for many years, let’s make sure I do it well.”

Since the Reading Round-Up, Josh has attended UGS workshops on time-management to continue making progress as he learns to consistently apply the strategies he’s using to override old habits. When asked about how the Reading Round-Up helped prepare him for an ideal start to college, Josh summarized: “It made me realize that I can learn from the people around me and push myself to become a better me the next day. It doesn’t have to be a fast change but I can change gradually, day by day, with each choice that I make.”

Some books from this year's Round-Up

See the full list of books here