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The BG News
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November 30, 2023

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Common reading author aims to inspire students


Tori Mcclure, author of “A Pearl in the Storm,” and the senior and freshman construction management teams race on the pond by the Student Recreation Center.

“A Pearl in the Storm” is a book written by Tori McClure, the first American to ever row across the Atlantic Ocean and the first American to travel on land to the South Pole, where she skied more than 750 miles.

McClure spoke at the Union Ballroom on Tuesday night to inspire freshmen students to learn from life lessons and to not be afraid to seek help from others.

“My sense of helplessness is what drove me to take the challenge,” she said, referencing her journey across the Atlantic.

The task was not easy.

McClure took on the challenge once before, but had to give in because of the difficulty of traveling during storms and “having ‘capped over’ five to six times,” she said.

“Capping over” is a term used to describe a canoe flipping over.

After her first journey, McClure was given the opportunity to work for legendary athlete Muhammad Ali, who she said gave her great advice.

“A failure is not a person who falls down but a person who doesn’t get back up,” McClure said, quoting Ali’s words to her. “You don’t want to be known as the woman who ‘almost’ crossed the ocean.”

She set off to take the challenge again and succeeded.

“My inspiration was my brother Lamar, whom was developmentally disabled,” McClure said.

A committee of 12 people from different colleges at the University chose “A Pearl in the Storm” as this year’s common reading experience for freshmen, said Donna Nelson-Beene, associate professor and director of General Studies Writing.

“We read a lot of books and the decision to choose one was hard due to all the books having good parts,” Nelson-Beene said. “But when it came to this book, the decision was unanimous amongst the committee.”

The book has many positive aspects, she said.

“It has good critical thinking and is relatable to both men and women,” Nelson-Beene said.

Relating the book to her audience, McClure stressed the importance of learning from others and accepting hardship.

“Coming to speak here is a great honor and I want students to know that all can learn from other people, friends and mentors,” McClure said. “Tragedy happens to all of us but there is always somebody there to help you.”

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