Blackwell Library

New Student Reader

New Student Reader

2012-2013 Book


Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice

and Redemption

by Jennifer Thompson and Ronald Cotton

with Erin Torneo


About the Book

Jennifer Thompson was raped at knifepoint by a man who broke into her apartment while she slept. She was able to escape, and eventually positively identified Ronald Cotton as her attacker. Ronald insisted that she was mistaken-- but Jennifer's positive identification was the compelling evidence that put him behind bars. After eleven years, Ronald was allowed to take a DNA test that proved his innocence. He was released, after serving more than a decade in prison for a crime he never committed. Two years later, Jennifer and Ronald met face to face-- and forged an unlikely friendship that changed both of their lives.

      In their own words, Jennifer and Ronald unfold the harrowing details of their tragedy, and challenge our ideas of memory and judgment while demonstrating the profound nature of human grace and the healing power of forgiveness.


About the Authors

Jennifer Thompson, a native North Carolinian and mother of teenage triplets, has become an outspoken opponent on the death penalty and speaks frequently about the need for judicial reform. She is a member of the Actual Innocence Commission, advisory committee for Active Voices, member of the Constitution Project, and Mother's for Justice.


Ronald Cotton lives with his wife and daughter in North Carolina and currently works at an insulation plant. He has spoken at various schools and conferences including Washington and Lee University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Georgetown Law School, and the Community March for Justice for Troy Anthony Davis in Savannah, GA.


Purpose of the Program

The purpose of the New Student Reader Program is to orient new students to our academic community at Salisbury University by having a common reading experience with fellow classmates, faculty, staff, and upper-class students who serve as orientation team peer leaders. 

The goal of the New Student Reader Program is to engage students in discussions, projects, curricular, and co-curricular opportunities generated by a common reading experience.

Click here to see pictures from our event! (PowerPoint)


Thursday, August 23rd

5:15 - 6:30 pm

Dinner for Essay Contest winners and their families with the President and other University Officials

Held in the Worcester Room in the Commons in the Worcester Room in the Commons.

7:00 - 8:00 pm

Jennifer Thompson and Ronald Cotton, subjects of the book, speak to the community

Held in the Social Room and Great Hall in Holloway Hall.

Friday, August 24th

9:00 - 10:00 am


Convocation Speaker, Jennifer Thompson

Held in Red Square.

10:15 - 11:15 am

Small group discussions led by faculty and staff

Held in various classrooms on the SU campus.

11:30 - 12:30 pm

Academic Open Houses

                             Held in respective Academic Schools.

12:30 - 1:30 pm

Brunch on the Lawn (new students & faculty)

Campus book signing by New Student Reader special guests, Jennifer Thompson and Richard Cotton


Committee Members of the New Student Reader Program

 Lawanda Dockins-Mills – Fall 2004

         Co-Chair; Interim Associate Dean of Students

Melissa Boog - Spring 2012

           Co-Chair; Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs

 Vaughn White – Fall 2004

            Director, Multicultural Student Service  

 Leigh Ann DePope – Fall 2009

            Faculty/Serials/Electronic Services Librarian

Nancy Michelson - Fall 2010


Vicki Willey - Fall 2010


Helena Hill - Fall 2010

            Judicial Case Coordinator/Office of Student Affairs

Elizabeth Iannelli -  Spring 2012

           Coordinator of Student Records/Registrats Office

Jonathan Colon - Spring 2012

            Advising Services Coordinator/Fulton School of Liberal Arts

Andrea Booth - Spring 2012

            Administrative Assistant/Guerrieri University Center Office

Samanta Greenberg - Summer 2012


For additional information about the public event or about the New Student Reader Program, please contact Lawanda Dockins-Mills, Co-Chair, New Student Reader Committee
at 410-543-6100. Co-Chair, New Student Reader Committee
at 410-543-6100.

2011-2012 book - Picking Cotton

2010-2011 book - Hope in the Unseen

2009 - 2010 Book - Journey from the Land of No

2008-2009 Book - Into the Wild  

  2007-2008 Book - The Glass Castle

2006 - 2007 Book - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

2005-2006  Book - Funny in Farsi