Members of Henrietta Lacks' family with author Rebecca Skloot

Caption: Members of the Lacks family are pictured with author Rebecca Skloot. (Photo and book cover image are courtesy of Lyceum Speakers Agency.)

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Northern State University’s fall 2023 Common Read book will be “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot.

Two members of the Lacks family will present the Larry and Julie Poeppel Family Common Read Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, in the NSU Johnson Fine Arts Center. The event is free and open to the public.

A New York Times bestseller, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” tells the story of how Lacks’ cells, taken without her consent in 1951, became one of the most important tools in medicine—the first “immortal” human cells grown in a laboratory.

The book was selected by Northern’s Common Read Committee, which is made up of students, faculty, staff and community members. The committee chose the book because of the cross-disciplinary opportunities to teach and discuss it, including science, history, sociology and ethics, said NSU Honors Program Director Dr. Kristi Bockorny.

Bockorny said the committee is excited to bring members of Lacks’ family to campus for the Common Read Lecture.

“This will be a great opportunity for students, the Aberdeen community and the surrounding area to learn about such an influential woman from her family,” Bockorny said. “So many of us have been touched by Henrietta Lacks due to her contribution to the medical field and we don’t even know about her or the situations that occurred to get us to today. This book will have you thinking and feeling long after you have finished reading.”

Copies of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” will be available for purchase for $12.25 plus tax in the NSU Wolf Shoppe, located on the first floor of the Avera Student Center.

About the NSU Common Read

Now in its 14th year, Northern’s annual Common Read program has grown into the largest academic event on the NSU campus, attracting internationally recognized authors. The event is hosted by the NSU Honors Program and supported through a generous endowment by the Larry and Julie Poeppel family. To learn more, contact Bockorny, Honors Program Director, at

About Northern State University  

Northern State University is a student-centered institution that provides an outstanding educational experience, preparing students through the liberal arts and professional education for their future endeavors. A regional university, Northern offers rigorous academics; diverse civic, social and cultural opportunities; and a commitment to building an inclusive environment for all points of view. Northern also offers a broad-based athletics program, sponsoring 15 NCAA Division II intercollegiate varsity sports that compete in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NSIC). The university strives to enrich the community through partnerships such as its Educational Impact Campaign, which opened a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired; new athletic and recreation fields; and an on-campus regional sports complex. With the $55 million campaign, NSU has been the recipient of more than $150 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.