Picking Cotton Chosen as University of Mount Olive Freshmen Read

MOUNT OLIVE – After four months of meticulously screening over 40 books, Picking Cotton was designated as the University of Mount Olive freshmen read by the Common Reading Selection Committee, made up of select faculty, staff and students. The memoir, written by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, Ronald Cotton and Erin Torneo, will be assigned to students in the ADV 100 class, a semester-long course required for all incoming MOC freshmen.

“The common reading selection builds a sense of community among the freshmen by giving them a shared experience, encouraging the exchange of ideas in an academic setting and stressing the importance of reading as a college student and informed adult,” explained Jackie Hill, chair of the Common Reading Selection Committee and instruction librarian at MOC. “There will most definitely be classroom discussions and activities related to the themes of the book,” said Hill. “Other activities might include a student panel discussion on the book and its themes, as well as a community service project.”

Picking Cotton is the harrowing tale of two lives forever changed by a horrible crime—rape victim, Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and the man falsely accused of her rape, Ronald Cotton. Cotton spent 11 years in jail until a DNA test proved his innocence. Two years later, Thompson-Cannino and Cotton met face-to-face and forged a bond of friendship that changed their lives again.

The committee carefully chose Picking Cotton from many acclaimed selections. “Our goal was to select a title that our students would find engaging, stimulating and instructive,” said Hill. “Picking Cotton fits all of those criteria, and has an added bonus of being about an event that happened in North Carolina. The committee believes that Picking Cotton will be a book that not only our students will want to read, but also a selection that will engage them in stimulating discussions about the shortcomings of our justice system, violence in our society and the nature of forgiveness and grace.”

Jennifer Thomson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton will make a guest appearance at University of Mount Olive campus on Thursday, November 14, at 4:00 PM in the Southern Bank Auditorium located in Raper Hall. They will speak out in favor of DNA testing and share how they work to protect the wrongfully convicted by talking about their personal stories of hope and redemption.  The public is invited to attend this free event.  For more information, contact Vice President for Student Affairs Dan Sullivan at dsullivan@moc.edu.

University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The College, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.moc.edu.