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Armstrong’s Common Read text for the 2014 - 2015 academic year is Scratch beginnings: Me, $25, and the search for the American dream, by Adam W. Shepard. Scratch Beginnings has been used on the first-year curriculum Common Read at over 80 colleges and universities and has made a huge difference in the lives of students across the country. Is the American Dream still alive? Millions of Americans fight every day to find the answer to that question. Scratch Beginnings is one man’s attempt at making that discovery for himself. Adam Shepard went undercover with $25 and the clothes on his back in a random city. Prohibited from using previous contacts or his education, Shepard sets the goal that in one year he will have $2500, a car, a furnished apartment, and, most importantly, he must be in a position where he can continue to improve his circumstances. Living in a variety of venues – including Charleston’s homeless shelter and an attic-turned-bedroom – Shepard gains valuable insight into a world in which he had otherwise been removed. Throughout his experience, he is able to make several discoveries which may have been anticipated, while also drawing conclusions that were clearly unexpected.