First Year Initiatives

Common Reading Experience

Picking Cotton (2015-2016)

The UNC Pembroke Common Reading Committee is proud to announce Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton as the Common Reading Experience book for 2015-2016.

In 1984, Jennifer Thompson-Cannino a North Carolina college student was raped by a man at knifepoint. After escaping and being interviewed by police she positively identified Ronald Cotton as her attacker. After eleven years in jail while maintaining his innocence, Cotton was exonerated through DNA evidence and released. Two years later Ronald and Jennifer meet and forge a lasting friendship advocating for judicial reform. This story highlights the power of forgiveness and redemption.

Join Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton on October 12, 2015 at 7:00pm in GPAC!

***There is a trigger warning for Picking Cotton. By law, if students are survivors of sexual assault, they are entitled to appropriate academic accommodations. These students may elect to skip the first chapter of the book and pages 127-131 or contact the Advising Center/First Year Initiatives to discuss other alternatives.   


For Faculty and Staff:
If you are interested in incorporating the book in one of your general education classes, please contact Todd Allen, Academic Advisor, at for a complimentary copy of the book. Please include the following information:
Office Phone Number:
Email Address:
Course Name:

Frequently Asked Questions About the Common Read