The Riders Read project is shifting into high gear this month with multiple opportunities to participate in thought-provoking discussions about the book that hundreds inside and outside Yavapai College are commonly reading: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

YC’s inaugural common read project, redubbed Riders Read and organized by the YC Respect campaign, invites everyone to read Rebecca Skloot’s chronicle of the life and death of unwitting tissue donor Henrietta Lacks. The book illuminates the impact of Henrietta’s “immortal” cells on medical science and on her survivors.

Riders Read aims to foster dialog throughout fall and spring semester around the many unresolved societal issues broached in the book, including medical ethics, scientific research monetization and access to healthcare.

“Participating in common read events allows students and community members to make connections across the curriculum, interact with faculty and staff outside of the classroom and develop a sense of college community,” said YC Humanities Professor Suzanne Waldenberger, who is coordinating the Riders Read program for the college.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is included in the curriculum of a number of YC humanities classes this academic year, Waldenberger said. Dozens of print and electronic copies of the book are available to borrow free through the Yavapai County Library network.

While a number of lectures and discussions already have taken place this semester, the Riders Read event schedule continues to grow and it is especially full this month. On Monday, Oct. 14, YC faculty members representing a variety of academic subjects are serving on an ethics panel for a Riders Read Roundtable. The event is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the YC Community Room, Building 19, Room 147. For the first hour, panelists will discuss ethics from the perspective of their respective academic fields. In the second hour, audience members are invited to engage with the panelists. YC Philosophy Professor Dr. Andrew Winters is facilitating the ethics roundtable. Participating in the panel and their disciplines, are:

  • Dr. Michael Davis, law
  • Helen Haxton-Stephenson, film and media
  • Tara O’Neill, education
  • Tyran Payne, law enforcement
  • Debra Pendergast, medicine and nursing
  • Michael Ruddell, science and research

All are welcome to attend and participate in the free Riders Read roundtable. Coffee and tea will be served.

Also next week, YC Sociology Professor Dr. Jennifer Jacobson is leading a Riders Read book discussion about ethnicity and gender issues at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, in the Prescott campus Rider Diner, Building 3.

On Thursday, Oct. 17, Dr. Davis is the guest for the YC Library’s “Distinguished Guest Lecture” series. Davis’ lecture is titled “Free Will and Other Fantasies.“ It begins at noon in the YC Library, Building 19, is free and open to everyone.

The film version of Skloot’s book, starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne, will round out the October Riders Read event schedule, with a $5 screening at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. YC students with ID are admitted free. For general admission tickets, visit

For a comprehensive Riders Read schedule of events this month and throughout the fall, visit