First-Year Student Experience

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What Will Your First Year Look Like?

Convocare. Ignite the Flame. The Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecture. Late-Night Breakfasts. Homecoming. Your first year is going to be busy! And it actually starts in the summer as you’ll join Avila’s Common Reading Program, which leads right into your First-Year Seminar.

During your time here at Avila, we offer many services to support your well-being.

These services include:

  • Avila Care Team–to help you with a crisis or if you have a concern about someone else.
  • Career Services–to help with your resume and job search.
  • Counseling Services–to assist if you ever feel a little homesick or simply need someone to talk to.
  • Student Access Office –to encourage the development of your unique potential.
  • Health Services–to help keep you well.
  • Tutoring is FREE–it is offered both online and face-to-face for your convenience.

First-Year Seminar (FS 101) 

FS 101: First-Year Seminar is a class that all incoming freshmen are required to take. The class is only offered in the fall semester as of now. The class is designed to help first-year students transition from high school to college. Topics covered in the course will provide students with the tools to be successful during their time here at Avila.  Spring semester First-Year Seminar will be offered as early as Spring 2022.

Each First-Year Seminar class has 20 to 22 students, two instructors, and two peer mentors. These small classes allow students to build connections and community with their peers. Students in the class are encouraged to meet with their instructors and peer mentors regularly to discuss class progress and how things are going outside of this course. 

Judge Richard Gergel interacting with a small group of students
2021 Truman Distinguished Lecturer the Honorable Richard Gergel sits down with Avila students during a workshop on social justice actions.

2021 Common Reading Book

The common reading book for the 2021-2022 school year is Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of America by Richard Gergel. All first-year students are required to read this book as part of the FS 101: First-Year Seminar class. We encourage everyone on campus to read the book to join in on important conversations and discussions related to the common read. 

For a copy of the book, please reach out to Paige Illum at

Past Common Reading Books

  • 2019 – “A Deadly Wandering” by Matt Richtel
  • 2018 – “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” by William Kamkwame and Bryan Mealer
  • 2017 – “The Distance Between Us” by Reyna Grande
  • 2016 – “While the World Watched” by Carolyn Maull McKinstry
  • 2015 – The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster” by Jonathan M. Katz
  • 2014 – “They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky” by Benjamin Ajak, Bensen Deng, Alephonsian Deng, & Judy Bernstein
  • 2013 – “The International Bank of Bob” by Bob Harris
  • 2012 – “Unbroken” by Laura Hilenbrand
Avila University Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecture Series Logo

The Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecture Series

Began in 1971, former President Harry S. Truman gave his stamp of approval for Avila University (then Avila College) to offer a lecture series in his name. Later that year, the first Truman lecture was delivered by David E. Bell, vice president of the Ford Foundation and Truman’s first administrative assistant. Click the slider to read about recent lectures.

2019 Truman Lecturer Reggie Shaw

Subject of the book “Deadly Wandering”

2019 Truman Lecturer Reggie Shaw

2018 Truman Lecturer William Kamkwamba

Author of “The Boy Who Inherited the Wind”

2018 Truman Lecturer William Kamkwamba

2017 Truman Lecturer Reyna Grande

As part of the Truman Lecture Series students have an opportunity to interact with the author in small group settings.

2017 Truman Lecturer Reyna Grande

2016 Truman Lecturer Carolyn McKinstry

Author of the Common Reading Book, “While the World Watched”

2016 Truman Lecturer Carolyn McKinstry

First Year Discord Server

We want students to be connected to the campus community! In order to make that easier, we have created a First Year at Avila Discord Server. Within the Discord, you can find info about student life events and other happenings on campus. You can chat with other students about campus life, music, sports, or even find a study group. Join the Discord here:

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