Today we’re excited to announce August’s featured reader for our Page Turners of Jefferson County series, which asks a local resident to reflect on the role books and reading have played in his or her life.
Mercedez Speight is a former Charles Town Library volunteer who attends Marshall University, with plans to continue her studies at law school. She is passionate about sports and community, and took the time to share a bit more about herself with us below.
Hello, my name is Mercedez Speight and I am currently a Presidential Ambassador for Marshall University. However, it wasn’t that long ago that I was a high school student volunteering for the Charles Town Library’s children’s programs. Alongside Miss Debbie, I read to countless children and assisted with the rather interesting Summer Reading Programs which had some very unique themes! The library gave me the confidence and the inspiration that I would need to be successful in college and experience that I would need when applying for scholarships.
My senior year of high school, I received the four-year highly coveted Robert McCormick Scholarship and off I went to Marshall University. While at Marshall, I have received several awards including the Carter G. Woodson Distinguished Student Award, John Marshall Emerging Leader Award, and a Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities Award. I have remained top ten percent of my graduating class and I am currently Vice President of Risk Management for Alpha Chi Omega. My love of sports novels and autobiographies that began as a library volunteer transcended into my college career, where I became involved with sports radio and eventually became a marketing intern for Marshall Athletics.
This upcoming year I will be taking the LSAT with hopes of attending law school and I eventually plan to practice in sports law. The late and great NC State Coach Jimmy Valvano (affectionately known as Jimmy V) once uttered the famous words that inspired millions, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up,” and that quote has reigned true throughout my life. Getting involved throughout my younger years at the library and staying active in my community forced a great will in me at a young age to give back. You have to give to receive and regardless of your circumstances you must never give up! For that, I will always be grateful to not only the Charles Town Library but the children who inspired me every Monday morning and every Thursday afternoon.
What book(s) are currently on your nightstand?
Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson.
What genres do you especially enjoy reading?
Autobiographical, suspense, and romance genres are my favorite.
Where and when do you like to read best?
I like to read whenever I have complete free time. That free time would require that I am not worried about homework, sorority, volunteering, etc. I prefer to read outside when the weather is nice or in my bed with a snack.
Which book most impacted your career choice?
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and When The Game Was Ours by Jackie McMullen, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird. I read Atlas Shrugged my senior year and it changed my outlook on my life, because although I didn’t know what career I wanted at 18, I knew the person I wanted to become. Dagny Taggart was such a progressive, powerful female character and her determination I felt mirrored my own. When The Game Was Ours was arguably when I fell in love with the idea of working in sports because I identified with Magic and Larry’s idea of taking a passion and letting it work for you! When you love something it’s never considered work and that message is ever-present in sports. People often work overtime not for the money, but for the metaphorical and figurative win.
Who is your favorite fictional character?
What’s the last book you put down without finishing?
Called to Coach by Bobby Bowden.
What childhood memories about reading stick most in your mind?
Junie B. Jones! I would get so excited for the Scholastic book fair at school or the trips to the Homestead Library with my mom to see what my favorite fictional friend was up to that time.
If you had to name a book that made you who you are today, what would it be?
Oh, The Places You’ll Go because there are so many life lessons that are engraved in there and I quote it frequently. I gifted a special edition to my sorority little during her reveal. “You will join the high fliers who soar to high heights . . . You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
Which five books would you take with you on a desert island?
Atlas Shrugged, Oh, The Places You’ll Go, the Bible, any Nicholas Sparks novel that I have not read, and Eat, Pray, Love (I hear that it’s an amazing novel).
What do you plan to read next?
I have been eyeing Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s My Beloved World and I will probably pick that up when I get back to school. If not, I would like to delve into the fiction world for a while and escape with an upbeat novel while finishing up my undergraduate career.
Categories: Page Turners