Soldier’s memoir selected for summer reading program


This summer’s required reading for incoming ECU freshman is a book by a University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill graduate and U.S. Marine, “It Happened on the Way to War.” (Contributed photos)


By Jamitress Bowden
ECU News Services

A memoir about a college student who founded a non-profit organization while on active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps has been selected as the 2013 Pirate Read at East Carolina University.

“It Happened on the Way to War” by Rye Barcott is set in the year 2000. Barcott was stationed in Kibera – a slum located in Nairobi, Kenya. While there, Barcott made a connection with the locals and in turn formed a bond with two specific people. Through his friendship with a widowed nurse and a community organizer, Barcott co-founded Carolina For Kibera, a non-profit organization under University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Barcott’s alma mater.

Barcott is scheduled to speak at ECU at 7 p.m. on Oct. 22 in Wright Auditorium.

ECU assistant professor of English Dr. Tracy Morse, co-chair of the 2013 Pirate Read committee said, “Because the story itself focuses on a regional college student and the initiative he made to take on philanthropic work, we thought that would inspire our students. Also it relates to the mission of the university.”

Barcott continued to work with CFK while serving as a human intelligence officer with the Marines in Bosnia, the Horn of Africa and Iraq. Since then, Barcott has furthered his education at Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government.


Author Rye Barcott

The committee charged with selecting this year’s Pirate Read received three nominations. Nominations for Pirate Read are open to all students, faculty and staff members. The nomination must include a synopsis and state the significance of the book, in addition to the title and author. The Pirate Read committee selects potential choices from the submitted nominations and then decides on the Pirate Read for that year.

“I think this book has so much to offer our students and I hope we can interest more faculty in using the book in their classes,” said Dr. Mary Beth Corbin, executive director of Student Transitions and immediate past co-chair of the Pirate Read committee.

Morse added that there are so many different issues within the book itself, that it’s applicable to multiple disciplines.

This is the sixth year of the Pirate Read program, a summer reading initiative for first-year students. “With historical perspective, I have the ability to see it [the Pirate Read program] evolve. It’s becoming engrained in the first-year student culture,” said Carol Woodruff, career counselor and liaison to the College of Fine Arts and Communications, who has served on the Pirate Read committee since the inaugural year.

Over the last three years, the Pirate Read selections were “Best American Non-required Reading” in 2010, “Picking Cotton” in 2011 and, most recently, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” in 2012.