By Julia Mericle
The All Bonaventure Reads program, which each year chooses a book for the incoming St. Bonaventure University freshmen to read, chose the creative nonfiction book, Full Body Burden by Kristen Iversen, for the class of 2017. Dr. Iversen, author and journalist, visited campus on Monday Sept. 30 to speak to students about her work.
Iversen made appearances in several classes in the morning, offering a chance for students, including those interested in becoming writers, to have questions answered. Winners of the All Bonaventure Reads essay contest and University 101 class representatives had the opportunity to attend a dinner with Iversen, where they were given more information about her book and what life has been like since its release.
Finally, Iversen gave a presentation to the entirety of the freshman class in the Reilly Center, using photographs from her life and the Rocky Flats plant to, as she said, “demystify the story of Rocky Flats.”
The book provides a look into the controversial and secretive story of Rocky Flats, and nuclear weapons plant in Colorado that Iversen’s childhood house stood only a few miles away from. Earlier in her life, Iversen was a worker at the plant. Even as an employee, she did not discover the truth about what was happening at Rocky Flats until it appeared on “Nightline.” After that she quit.
“The day that I quit was the day I knew I would write a book someday,” Iversen said.
Iversen said that she never even knew if the book would be published, but she knew that the story of Rocky Flats was one she needed to tell and she could not write anything else until she did. The book has been a success and now Iversen tours college campuses around the country speaking about Full Body Burden. She said she loves talking about ethics at universities because she believes they are the places those types of conversations are most needed.
Iversen also noted that students from a variety of different majors can find something that interests them in the book, from physics to psychology to journalism.
“I really enjoyed Full Body Burden’s concepts and how she wrote it,” freshman journalism & mass communications major Catherine Brown said.” “I aspire to be an investigative journalist, so Kristen Iversen is an inspiration.”
According to Iversen, Rocky Flats today is continually undergoing a clean up process and there are potential plans in place to turn it into a wildlife refuge. However, there are still protesters at the plant and recent flooding in Colorado has brought radioactive waste issues back into the spotlight. The effects of Rocky Flats will be around for centuries to come.
“This is a story that is not going away any time soon,” Iversen said.
Students were encouraged by professors to examine the final line of the book, “To speak out or to remain silent is the first and most crucial decision we can make,” in order to discover the theme that earned the books its spot of the All Bonaventure Reads list. This theme was well discussed in Iversen’s speech and she heavily noted the importance it held in the Rocky Flats case.
Iverson stated that it was, “a story of citizen activism that worked.”