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2018 | Spare Parts Spare Parts by Joshua Davis

spare parts announcement graphic


In 2004, four Latino teenagers arrived at the Marine Advanced Technology Education Robotics Competition at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They were born in Mexico but raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where they attended an underfunded public high school. No one had ever suggested to Oscar, Cristian, Luis, or Lorenzo that they might amount to much—but two inspiring science teachers had convinced these impoverished, undocumented kids from the desert who had never even seen the ocean that they should try to build an underwater robot.  And build a robot they did...But this is just the beginning for these four, whose story—which became a key inspiration to the DREAMers movement—will go on to include first-generation college graduations, deportation, bean-picking in Mexico, and service in Afghanistan. Spare Parts is a story about overcoming insurmountable odds and four young men who proved they were among the most patriotic and talented Americans in this country—even as the country tried to kick them out.

Our invited speaker is Oscar Vazquez, one of the teenagers whose trials and triumphs are documented in Spare Parts.  Oscar will visit the UAS Juneau Campus in Fall 2018 with additional events TBA.

Like many DREAMers, Oscar Vazquez came to the United States as the child of undocumented immigrants in search of a better life. From age 12 when he moved from Mexico to Phoenix, Arizona, Oscar excelled in the classroom. He has since earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Arizona State University, his U.S. citizenship and served in Afghanistan with the Army. Today OScar works for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railways as a business analyst on a web app development team, and is a passionate advocate on behalf on expanding STEM opportunities for Latino and other underrepresented youth. 

Free books will be provided to all new students at Fall Orientation and additional book copies (print, ebook and audiobook) will be available soon at the Egan Library.

Get a preview of the inspirational story by reading the magazine article that became the book; La Vida Robot by Joshua Davis

Faculty interested in adopting this book in your fall courses please contact Jonas Lamb at the Egan Library.  Sitka and Ketchikan faculty interested in helping organize events on your campuses are also encouraged to connect with Jonas.  Themes covered in the book include mathematics, physics, electrical engineering, U.S. immigration policy, educational reform, poverty and celebrates the courage it takes to ask for others to believe in your dream.  

Spare Parts will be provide an entry point for campus conversations on the theme: Dream, Believe, Build.  Key topics in the book include: immigration, equity, access to education, identity, STEM, role models, the DREAM Act and what the American Dream means today.   

Reading Group Guide/ Discussion Questions (pdf) 

Watch the trailer for the documentary, Underwater Dreams which chronicles the impact the four boys have made as STEM and DREAM advocates since the release of the book. 

Underwater Dreams Trailer from 50EGGS on Vimeo.


Read an excerpt from chapter 1 on Science Friday

Find a copy in the Alaska Library Catalog

Download an ebook or audiobook copy from the Alaska Digital Library [coming soon]

Reading Group Guide/ Discussion Questions (pdf) 


Author Joshua Davis was happy to visit our school but asked if we'd consider Oscar Vazquez who he felt was the heart of the book and would connect and inspire our students.  

Sep 19, 20187 PMUnderwater Dreams Film ScreeningJuneau Campus: Egan Lecture Hall (112)
Sep 26, 20187 PMBook & Brew: Spare Parts book discussion + MocktailsJuneau Campus: Egan Library, Room: 211
Oct 17, 20187 PMBook & Brew: Spare Parts Book Discussion for 21+ Squires Rest
Oct 24, 20187 PMSpare Parts [feature film]Juneau Campus: Egan Lecture Hall (112)
Nov 5, 201812 PMVeterans Luncheon with Oscar Vazquez Juneau Campus: Egan Classroom Wing, Egan 109

2018 Spare Parts 

If you are considering using Spare Parts in your class, would like to contribute curriculur resources or are interested in serving on the Planning and Selection Committee please send an email to We may also have desk/review copies available.  

Consider using these resources for approaching this year's themes: dream, believe, build.  This page is updated regularly and features a bibliography of complimentary books and discussion themes by discipline to compliment this year's selection and provide alternate sources for discussion in academic classes.    

Reading Group Guide/ Discussion Questions (pdf)

LESSON PLANS/TEACHABLE MOMENT CLASSROOM LESSONS (a project of Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility)

The Politics of Immigration Reform, by Mark Engler.  "Students explore how the growing power of Latino voters improves chances for comprehensive immigration reform and consider some of the economic benefits of immigration."

Student DREAMers and the Fight for Immigration Reform  by Mark Enger. "President Obama's recent decision to stop deporting some young undocumented immigrants came in the context of a powerful movement by young people to enact the immigration reform proposal known as the DREAM Act. Student readings examine the new Obama policy and the tireless efforts of young activists to change U.S. immigration policy."

Arizona's Controversial New Immigration Law, by Alan Shapiro. "Three student readings consider the law, a new poll on immigration policies, and the story of one undocumented immigrant. Discussion questions, a pair-share dialogue, and suggested additional activities follow."

Should Undocumented Workers Have a Shot at the American Dream?, by Alan Shapiro. "Four readings and activities invite students to learn about and debate immigration policy and devise their own legislation to address the issue."

Illegal Immigrants: Why Do They Come? What Should the U.S. Do About Them?, by Alan Shapiro. "Why immigrants come to the U.S. and competing views about their place in America are the major subjects of the following three readings and classroom activities for high school students."

Underwater Dreams (documentary)

Teaching Guide

The Living Undocumented Series (films and study resources)

Watch the Film

Teaching & Resource Guides

Related Reads from the Egan Library eBook Collection

The DREAMers : how the undocumented youth movement transformed the immigrant rights debate by Walter J. Nicholls

The Latino generation : voices of the new America by Mario T. García

Sacrificing families : navigating laws, labor, and love across borders by Leisy J. Abrego

STEM and the City : A Report on STEM Education in the Great American Urban Public School System by Claire T. Berube

Bones: Brothers, Horses, Cartels, and the Borderland Dream by Joe Tone

One Campus, One Book is the common reading program at UAS-Juneau.  It's a celebration of literature and the relationships and communities that develop between readers and writers.  Discussing a common book can also provide a safe venue for beginning difficult dialogues.  The program grew out of the Student Success Forum with the goal of helping foster community and compassion on campus.  The program's first year (2010) featured David Issay's Listening is an Act of Love and a corresponding campus oral history project ( The UAS Listening Project) collected the stories of students, faculty and staff.   In 2012 the program was formalized as a program of the Egan Library, a selection committee established and in 2013 these program goals and criteria were adopted.  


The UAS One Campus, One Book program will:

  • Begin an exploration of interdisciplinary approaches
  • Create opportunities for learning in and out of the classroom.
  • Foster student, staff and community participation and identification as contributing members of an intellectual community.
  • Promote reading and "foster a page-turning togetherness".*

       *based on DC We Read 2009

The One Campus, One Book (OCOB) program aligns with the mission and goals of the UAS First Year Experience (FYE) Program to support academic success and persistence, ease educational and social transitions to college, and foster student engagement in the UAS Community.  OCOB activities incorporate two FYE student learning outcomes:

First year students participating in OCOB activities will:

  1. Develop a strong network of peers and professionals including:
    1. One faculty member they consider a mentor
    2. One staff member they feel can offer support
    3. Five peers that are conducive to their social and academic success
  2. Develop strong connections to the UAS campus by attending at least five events on the Don't Miss List

Criteria for book selection:

  • The extent to which the book matches program goals (touches on interdisciplinary perspectives and has the potential for integration into curriculum, is not too challenging in terms of reading level or topic).
  • Has the potential for a variety of related program (themes).
  • The book won’t have likely been assigned reading during high school.
  • Accessibility: The book is between 250-350 pages in length, engaging, college-level reading and not a text-book
  • Accessibility: is available currently in paperback
  • Accessibility: bulk ordering of the book won’t require a reprint of the title.
  • The author may be available to visit campus (within our modest budget).

Core Planning and Selection Committee:

Please email committee chair, Jonas Lamb ( ) if you are interested in participating on the committee or for information about the next selection.  

Jonas Lamb, Assistant Professor of Library Science/Public Services Librarian, Chair  

UAS First-Year Experience Committee working group members TBD. 

Book Nomination Form

Titles under review for AY18-19:  Designing Your Life: how to build a well-lived joyful life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans, Cycle of Hope: a journey from paralysis to possibility Tricia Downing, If Our Bodies Could Talk: a guide to operating and maintaining a human body by James Hamblin, Muslims and the Making of America by Amir Hussain, Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, Lynched: the power of memory in a culture of terror by Angela D. Sims, Why We Work by Barry Schwartz, Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes by Rob Knight, with Brendan Buhler, How we will live on Mars by Stephen Petranek, Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capo Crucet, Dreaming in Indian : contemporary Native American voices (graphic collection) edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale, My Degeneration: a journey through parkinson's (graphic novel, AK author) by Peter Dunlap-Shohl, The Refugees (short stories) by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Spare Parts: for undcoumentated teenagers, one ugly robot, and the battle for the american dream by Joshua Davis, Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas, How to Make White People Laugh: a memoir meets social justice comedy manifesto by Negin Farsad, Double Take: a memoir by Kevin Michael Connolly.

Do you know of a great book that could help build community and begin difficult conversations on campus through the OCOB program?  Feel free to nominate a title that is not included in our short list.  Each selection cycle the committee reviews more than 20 titles, many are from campus commuinity nominations.  We look forward to adding your nominations to the ongoing consideration pool.  Please keep in mind the program goals, selection criteria and we'd love to hear your ideas for related programming.  

For examples, check out some common reading titles from these publishers:
Random House 
Harper Collins 
National Association of Scholars 

NPR Book Concierge

Internship Opportunities:

Interested in Interning with the OCOB program? Talk to your advisor and contact to discuss options.

The OCOB Student internship will provide students with experience in the management, marketing and promotion of arts and culture events by assisting in the production of the campus-wide common reading program, One Campus, One Book and related campus and community events. This internship will also incorporate independent networking around the City and Borough of Juneau with the purpose of determining how arts and culture organizations develop, budget, staff, coordinate logistics, and evaluate their programs and events.  Duties vary between Fall and Spring Internship opportunities and each interested student is encouraged to work with their faculty advisor and OCOB faculty sponsors to adapt the internship to meet their program needs.  The OCOB internship can be adapted to meet a variety of programatic needs including Humanities, Communication, English and more.  Student interns can also choose to enroll at either 291/391/491 levels and typically for 3 credits (requires 150 clock hours).  These internship opportunities are open until filled.  Deadline to apply for fall is May 1 of the prior year and the deadline for the spring internship is December 1.  Funding may be available to cover internship credit/tuition costs.     

Objectives:  One objective of the internship will be to provide the student an opportunity to actively participate in the management, marketing and promotion of an arts and culture event.

Interns will:

  • Attend regular OCOB committee planning and other related meetings/trainings (budget/CMS). 
  • Review and critically evaluate potential book titles for selection
  • Assist in book orders and author visit planning
  • Create promotional materials, surveys and content for print, web (CMS training provided) and social media
  • Assist in event scheduling, promotion and event logistics.
  • Develop written and oral communication skills by discussing and promoting OCOB programs and events with students and in the community
  • Develop confidence and communication skills serving as coordinator of correspondence and communication with invited author, publisher and other guest speakers/performers.

Questions about the internship?  Contact Jonas Lamb ( or call 907-796-6440


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