Changing the world — one book at a time

My first book was a gift from my mother. I was three years old and given an ultimatum of 2 days to read a 20 page book and repeat the story to my mother. I grumbled and complained but my mother was having none of it. I ended up reading the book in one day. Books became my wings; with books I was able to explore the world without leaving hometown of Lagos. With my books I visited the Paddington rail station in London before I ever got a British visa; and explored the streets of Cairo without the side effects of jetlag.

I am a testimony of the power of books to change a life. Books have literally changed my life; I am a writer today because I read books. I cannot imagine my life without the wonder of books; and yet there are millions of children around the world who do not know how to read or have books.

One of my major attractions to the Mason School of Business MBA was the many opportunities the program offered to develop my leadership abilities. The Leadership Development Exercise in particular offers every First Year MBA an opportunity to develop a tailor made leadership project that speaks directly to the leadership skills a student is looking to improve. In addition to improving leadership abilities, the LDE is also a chance for every student to do something they are passionate about and give back to others through it.

The book drive was relatively easy to organize especially with support from the MBA program, faculty and students. Within the first two days, I had to empty the collection boxes; they were that full! We ended up donating a total of 200 books to the Reading Tree Organization; a non-profit organization with a mission to provide books to disadvantaged families in North America. Since the book drive ended, I have received another 100 books towards the effort.

From my first day at the Mason School of Business, it has been bored into me that I can make a difference. I am a mere 5ft 4 inches tall and scared stiff of heights; and before the book drive, it was not very easy believing that I could make a difference in a world of 7 billion people. The amazing support and generous donations from the Mason community during the drive has changed all that. I see now that it is possible for this tiny girl to change the whole world. I will be doing it hand in hand with the wonderful people around me here at the Mason School of Business and those I will come across in the future.

300 books might not seem like much with the millions of children in need around the world but I believe in the ripple effect. Someday, those children will get an MBA and give back to the community that showed them they could do so much more than their immediate environment allows. This is how I plan to change the world, one child at a time, with one book at a time.

If you are interested in giving a child a new adventure by donating a book please contact me at damilola.ashaolu@mason.wm.edu

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Damilola Ashaolu

Damilola Ashaolu is a full-time MBA student at the Mason School of Business.

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