“The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream” by Dr. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt with Lisa Frazier Page is an easy-to-read and compelling nonfiction book certain to engage students. It chronicles the story of three African American youth in inner-city Newark, New Jersey, who made a pact that they would become doctors one day. Their promise of mutual support enabled them to get through school and avoid the temptations of the streets. Despite struggles and setbacks, they all became doctors.
My university selected “The Pact” for our 2005 summer reading program. Our entire freshman class of about 750 students, as well as about 60 faculty and staff members, read this book. “The Pact” speaks strongly not only to first-year college students but also to high school students. It will particularly resonate with high school students in poorer neighborhoods.
I generated this list of 15 themes from the book for an essay contest that we ran in conjunction with our summer reading program. This list of themes ranges from the obvious (such as the effects of poverty) to the less obvious (the importance of self-esteem). Page references are included for some of the themes.
This list could be used as a springboard for writing assignments, research projects, contests, large- or small-group discussions, or even debates.