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Human Library

The Human Library is returning for Spring 2018

Spring 2015 Human Library Books

South Campus Catalog of

Human Books 2015

Full Book Descriptions


Started from the Bottom now I’m Here

African American Architect

A young African American Architect will discuss how he overcame poverty, the drug & crime infested streets of Buffalo, and discrimination at UB to become the current Deputy Director of Buildings for the City of Buffalo. ~ Rishawn

(Leaving at 1:00)


Convicted, Converted & in College

Ever wanted to talk to an ex-convict about their crime?  He has paid his debt to society, is a youth minister, is reformed and ready to tell his story.  ~ Luke


Acknowledging my Disability or Not?

Accidentally burned on her hand as a premature, newborn baby by a Nurse, Maggie doesn’t see herself as disabled.  Although she has stories about other children dealing with her hand, she remains confident and has a wonderful story to tell about her life. ~ Maggie



Should having tattoos keep you from getting the jobs you want?  This happens far too often and Melissa wants to talk about her experiences and believes this prejudice is equal to discriminating against people because of their race. ~ Melissa


A Day in the Life of a Buffalo Police Officer

Think you could handle the life of a Buffalo Police Officer?  Let’s see what you think after hearing some of Fred’s stories! ~ Fred


Beginning ~ Muslim ~ and End

Muslim (Male)

Living in two different worlds gives this book a very interesting view of what it means to be Muslim in America.  Ask about any aspect of Islam that you’ve always wanted to know and get to know a Muslim.          ~ Maufoudh


The Girl Who Believed That She Never Could 

Learning with a Learning Disability

This book knows that growing up with a learning disability means that life will be harder for you than others, but that doesn’t mean you give up.  This attitude has helped Stephanie earn her several degrees.  Check her out to find out what it’s like to have a learning disability. ~ Stephanie 


Loving an Addict is Hard to Do

Family Member of an Addict

Being in addict isn't an easy thing; loving one isn't either. We often think of drugs as something that destroys the person who takes them, but what is it like to be the person who loves the person taking drugs?  When you grow up knowing that your sister is an addict, you grow up fast and hard.

This book knows that loving someone doesn't always mean that you like the things they do. Having known and loved more than one addict in her lifetime, this book can help you see what it's like on the sidelines of addiction.   Kelsey is waiting to be “checked out” so that she can share what it's like when someone you love is destroying themselves. ~ Kelsey


Sometimes Foster Means Family

Raised in the Foster Care System

Everyone has heard of someone who took in a foster child that was nothing but trouble. Of course this can't always be the, but once a stereotype takes hold it's hard to change a preconception. Not everyone is cut out for the job of being a foster parent, but luckily some have enough love to make a difference.

This book was raised in the foster system and spent time with many families. Maybe you went to school with someone who is in foster care, maybe you know someone who has taken in a foster child, but if you've never had experience with this type of family structure or you're considering becoming a foster parent, this book is willing to tell you all about it. “Check out” Sabalena to see what kind of prejudices she's endured and if it was all worth it in the end. ~ Sabalena


Don't Hate Rate this Professor

College Professor

Our professors take on an interesting role in our lives. They are mentors who guide us, but they're also dictators to grade us.  Sometimes they seem to create unfair assignments, difficult tests and never seem to grade us as well as we think they should. Sometimes, one disgruntled student is enough to turn an entire class against a professor.

This book is an SUNY Erie English professor who is willing to sit down and tell you what a class looks like from in front of the blackboard.  Think twice the next time you go to rate your professor – there are aspects of the professor's job that we never see from the desks in the classroom. “Check out” Erika to see education from a different perspective. ~ Erika


Helping Hands Without Prejudice

Emergency Medical Technicians

Being an EMT means that you help all people regardless of race, ethnicity or religion.  In a job like this, unfortunately there can be room for prejudice.  At times, EMT’s can arrive to a scene to find people are prejudiced against them.  “Check-out” Tom & Joe to find out what’s it’s like to have a job like this!         ~ Tom & Joe


Adjusting Her Inner Image  


This book has a harrowing tale – an epic journey of personal transformation through overcoming social stigma and barriers.  From high school dropout to PhD. Student, this book’s journey will inspire you to see transwomen in a whole new light. This is not some Caitlyn Jenner story of privileged living. This book battled with alcoholism early in her life, as it was more acceptable to be a drunk than a transwoman. This led her into a life of homelessness, criminality, and violence.  In a battle against the odds, she fought from a position of abject poverty to take on the state of New York’s regressive health codes in a bid to get the medical treatment that would bring her back from the brink of suicide.


Although she would fail to change NY’s healthcare system, she working her way through SUNY Erie and Buffalo State College to graduate with honors, and was accepted into a PhD. Program with full funding that included health insurance that would cover her surgery and medical needs. “Check out” Morgan to hear about her story and her fight for the rights of all people to have their basic needs met. ~ Morgan


My Life Behind the Shades 

Sexual Abuse Survivor

Innocence had been taken from Steven at the tender age of 7.  Now as an adult, he has gone public with his story to help others avoid the same fate. Since the crime of sexual abuse continues to be overlooked by those who have the power to stop it, he continues to advocate for kids. ~ Steven


Crime Scene Technology

If you’ve had the unfortunate situation of being at a crime scene, you heard law enforcement or others respond in a negative/prejudicial way towards victims or their family members.  “Check-out” Tomasina to hear about the criminal justice profession and how rewarding/challenging it can be at times. ~ Tomasina


Seeing the Light

Muslim (Female)

Raised in a culture-based Muslim household in Yemen, Amal is now beginning to see the light.  She says there is a vast difference between the oppressed culture of being a Muslim and the religion of Islam itself.  Islam is a loving peaceful religion that is against the oppression of women.  “Check-out” Amal and learn about culture vs. religion. ~ Amal


Everything Happens for a Reason

Life After a Brain Injury

Learning to ride a bike, losing your first tooth and your first school dance are all milestones.  Now imagine that you have brain cancer that takes away all of those memories.  This book spent two months in a coma and was told he would be in a vegetative state and not be able to walk again. To hear how he manages his new life, “check out” Justin. ~ Justin


NCIS - Special Agent

This book has traveled the world! He joined the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in 1981 as a special agent and in 1994 he began focusing on the “new” concept of computer crimes.  He then set up the Computer Investigations and Operations Department of NCIS. To learn more about his exciting life, “check out” Matt. ~ Matt


Not Much Muscle & a Great Deal of Grit

Arthrogryposis (born with permanent shortening of a muscle or joint)

Moving through one’s young years and life with a congenital condition – arthrogryposis – opens this Human Book’s eyes and mind up to a different perspective on daily activities.  Putting on socks can be more challenging than first thought, and take twice the time to accomplish. “Checking out” Dave should allow a glimpse into how valuable life lessons are learned. ~ Dave

City Campus Catalog of

Human Books 2015

Full Book Descriptions


Acting and Directing Off Broadway

I am professional actor, a published poet, a national and international storyteller, and a lecturer on the arts and culture. I grew up mostly on Buffalo’s East Side, and I have taught in a variety of environments, including the Buffalo Public School System, a creative writing program at Attica State Prison, Erie Community College, and the University at Buffalo.


Community Activist

The pain of losing a loved one is never easy, but it is even more difficult to cope when that loved one is suddenly taken away by violence. In 2010, my father-in-law was fatally shot, and later my brother was killed when a car he was hanging onto crashed in a drug-infested neighborhood. I also came precariously close to going down a similar road myself during the 1980s when I considered joining what would become one of the city’s most notorious gangs. But I had a peacemaker in my life, Pastor James Giles, who showed me another path. I’m using the same lessons he taught me in the Stop the Violence Coalition to help  reduce violence and curtail drug activity in WNY. My goal is to forge relationships with the city’s young people, serve as their mentor, and inspire them to finish their education and make a better life for their futures. Just like Pastor Giles did for me. 


You Imprison Yourself in the Mind

I never knew that I was physically challenged until the 4th grade when I was taken from a school for children with disability and placed in a normal Buffalo Public School that was not ADA accessible.

My greatest challenge is having to overcompensate and prove to people  that I can be just like the rest of them. I understand that I have to accept that there are certain things that I will just won’t be able to do without a little assistance, but I am capable and I don’t allow my disability to define my abilities. I’m different, but we are all the same. I am a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a student, an employee: I am Hope Harper.


Self Enlightenment in the Army

After graduating from Bennett High School, young Trey Vernon Staples had his eyes set on college, for he had aspirations of becoming a great and successful legal practitioner. But unfortunately, his first attempt at college ended in utter and complete failure. Vulnerable, and unsure of his place in the world, he turned to the military; more specifically the United States Army. It was there, that Mr. Staples faced the greatest challenges he had ever known (some of which would define him for years to come), and discovered an inner strength, that had previously been unknown to him. This is the story of how Mr. Trey Staples came to discover who he was as an individual. This is a story of self-enlightenment in the Army.


Coming Out as a Gay Late in Life 

While waiting in the lounge of the church for the familiar notes of the wedding march to play, which would be my cue to meet my father at the back of the church, I searched for a way to climb out of the window of the small room without tearing the wedding dress my mother and grandmother had made for me.  I wasn’t able to figure it out in time.

My Journey from Ethiopia: Owning a New Culture While Keeping my Cultural and Religious Beliefs

               I remember the day I first came to America from Ethiopia. I was in the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, looking around a totally unfamiliar place full of strangers and not knowing how to speak their language. All I could hear was the strangers' buzzing voices and their words that I couldn't understand.  At that moment, I realized that I was in America, and my heart started to beat fast. Until September 4th, 2004, I had never been away from my country. For 12 years, I had grown up around people who used the same language as me and had dark brown or black curly hair and brown eyes. However, being in a  strange place, seeing strangers that look completely different than my people, was quite a new experience, and I couldn't help but contrast my native country with this  new world in which I found myself. I eventually assimilated to my new home and owned the culture as my own, but I never let go of my cultural and religious beliefs.


A View of Life Behind the Badge

I grew up in North Buffalo and attended high school and college locally. Upon graduating from the police academy in 1980, I began my police career in the city of Lockport. After two years, I transferred to Buffalo Police Department where I recently retired as a detective after thirty years of service. My book will share some of the many different situations that I have encountered during this time and provide the view of life that I had behind the badge.


Being Muslim in America

I am from Somalia, but I was born in Kenya because my family moved away from Somalia when the civil war started. We lived in Kenya for 10 years as immigrants. Then we finally came to the United States in 2007. I started school in 7th grade when I didn’t know any English. It was really hard for me to communicate with other students.  I couldn’t do my homework or class work because I didn’t know how to read or write in English. I ended up failing the 7th grade, so I started to learn the language faster by trying to read, write and speak in English. I eventually graduated and went to Grover Cleveland High School. I also graduated from Grover a year ago and now I’m a full time student at Erie Community College. I’m studying criminal justice to become a police officer so I can help other Somalian people who don’t speak English.

I was born and raised a Muslim. We pray 5 times a day and we attend the mosque every Friday afternoon to listen to a lecture for about an hour and then pray together. I have worn a scarf since I was 10 years old to cover up my hair and neck. I go to an Islamic school on the weekends and after school I help the teacher with other students who are learning the Quran. The Quran is written in Arabic, so it’s hard for some kids like my little brothers to recite it. We have a holiday called Ramadan which lasts for a month. We fast during the month which means we can’t eat, drink or swear, and refrain from sexual activities from sunrise to sunset. After Ramadan is over we celebrate this holiday called Eid-Al-Adha. During this special day we celebrate with a big feast where all the families come together to eat and enjoy the moment. 


Coming Out Twice 

Being the only gay person in my family, makes me the black sheep. I've always been that way anyway. Coming out twice in my lifetime was very complicated. The first time my family assumed I was "going through a phase". When I came out again at 18 and they knew at that moment that I was serious. Every person has a set of expectations when it comes to coming out of the closet, but my positive set was not what I was in for. I was raised in an accepting environment. At least I thought I was. I was told that "a man can give you the world on a silver platter. Why be with a woman?" My favorite was, "You are never going to be able to have children like me or get married like I can." Hearing those very words struck through me like lightning. Times have changed recently and my family is progressing with accepting me. I know that it's okay to be attracted to the same sex. I'm proud to be a lesbian and I will continue to have the courage to stand up for the LGBTQ community.


From the Small Stoop to the Big Backyard: SUNY Erie's Role in My Upward Social Mobility

At one point, growing up in extreme poverty, amidst substance abuse, domestic violence and mental illness in my household seemed like a recipe for certain disaster.  The added pressure of having a child before I graduated High School put me in an emotional state of emergency.  Plans to run away from it all and join the military crashed and burned along with hopes to one day have the ability to give my daughter a better life than the one I had known.  Little did I know, a last minute decision to apply to what was heinously referred to as “Easy Credit College” would guide me to a path of success and accomplishments.  This is not your typical “rags to riches” story.  This book is about how SUNY Erie has allowed me to triumphantly maneuver my way into defying the odds that many minorities face……….confinement within the low end of the social stratification system. 

From Sight to Sightless

I experienced headaches from the age of 6 until the age of 19. During my senior year of high school, doctors discovered a brain tumor and performed surgery to remove it. One year later, I was declared legally blind.


You Can Overcome ANYTHING with Faith!

An incredible story of survival. He was leaving a wedding in his country Eritrea and was standing outside along with the other guests when shots were heard.  He was shot in the head and almost died. His terrible injuries left him paralyzed.  He lost his will to live and even asked his friends to kill him with a gun. He reached the lowest of lows.  He has recovered and now can walk, although he has not regained all of the movement to his arm and leg.  He is a walking ray of sunshine and gives thanks to God every moment for helping him survive. 

Breast Cancer Before 25: Why Me?

I'm a first year culinary student and a former social worker. I'm also an Army veteran who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 23, not long after I left the military. I can talk about my experience, how it differs from the way breast cancer is seen today versus then, and my feelings at the time. I can talk about my recovery and how I got on with my life.


I Didn't Start Out in Life Wanting to Sue Anyone...

My father always told me that you earn a day’s pay with a day of hard work.  That’s how I represent my personal injury clients.

Growing up, my father was a firefighter and owned a window cleaning business in Olean, New York.  My mother was a customer service representative for a utility company.  They were honest, hardworking people.  Unfortunately, my father was injured by someone else’s negligent and reckless conduct.  He was never able to work again.  Even worse, the lawyer they hired failed to get them anything for his injuries.  They had a good case – one they should have easily won – and their lawyer’s failure to do his best for them changed the rest of my parents’ lives.

It also changed mine.  I realized how important it is that hardworking families have competent and diligent attorneys to help them.  I work hard every day to get my clients the best results, like my father taught me.  Whether fighting against a big insurance company for an injured person or defending someone wrongly accused of a crime, for over 25 years I’ve used hard work and determination to get justice for my clients.

While my law firm is based in Buffalo, I still have strong connections with Olean and represent people throughout Western New York in both personal injury and criminal matters.


Professionally Inked

Unlike many of my friends, I never wanted a tattoo. I wasn't until I turned 21 when I went for my first tattoo, and the feeling afterwards is something indescribable. â€‹Afterwards, I quickly went for more and more all while I was working to further my career. While I wouldn't say that having tattoos affected my success, it can have an overall negative impact on how the public both perceive and interact with you. If you ever wondered what the process of getting tattooed is like, how people choose their tattoos, and the good and bad of having tattoos with a career come check me out!


The Secret Behind Healthy Eating

Have you have tried all the fad diets, and you just aren't losing the weight you want? Have you have worked out and tried so many different types of exercises but nothing is shedding the pounds? Well I am here to tell you what you have been waiting to hear. They say losing weight is 80 percent diet and 20 percent working out. I am here to tell you that it is the truth and just how to obtain and maintain that new lifestyle you so desire. Not only will I provide you with the secret, but I will provide you with tips and tricks that will keep your motivation going.

Being a chef is a career that I have been in training for all my life…I just didn’t know it. In 2011, I migrated from the beautiful Island of Jamaica and settled in Buffalo, New York with my sister. With me I brought my culture and my grandmother’s Jamaican recipes.


Choosing to Stay Positive: Why I Choose Radiologic Tech

Description forthcoming.


Cancer Survivor

Description forthcoming.


Native Son Black Man in America

Description forthcoming.


Male Nurse

Description forthcoming.


Fitness and Body Building  

Description forthcoming.

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