Local student will address Congress on need for libraries

May. 03, 2014 @ 03:15 PM

Marlisha Blakeney has always worked to push herself and be the best and on Tuesday, she will appear in Congress, to read an essay she wrote on the importance of libraries in the community. 

She said when she was writing the essay that she thought about her mother taking her to the library, where she received academic support and they would help her use the computer and help her find books she needed to complete her assignment. 

“The libraries were able to help me and give me the academic support I needed,” Blakeney said. 

She said she also though about families where a mother works multiple jobs and cannot always provide children with the support they may need, in which case, the library can help. She also wrote about the elderly and how they can receive help with computers and technology and people who do not speak English as their first language who can receive assistance from the library. 

“I’m hoping that this will help the House of Representatives to understand that libraries really are important,” she said. 

When she found out she was speaking, she said she was surprised and honored. She said this will be her first trip to Washington, D.C. and she is excited to go. They will see the sights Monday and on Tuesday, she will read her essay. 

Blakeney currently attends North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, the world’s first public, residential high school for juniors and seniors that provides a specialized curriculum in the areas of math, science and technology, according to their website. 

Prior to that she attended Union County Early College and East Union Middle School. 

Blakeney remembers always coming home and staying inside to read. She said she would do math workbooks in the car on family trips. 

She said she “just really had a drive” to learn more and to do more. 

Blakeney will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a full scholarship. She said she would like to be an attorney and her dream is to attend Harvard Law School. 

None of this is surprising to Lisa Anthony, Blakeney’s former math teacher at East Union Middle School. 

“She’s a role-model student,” Anthony said. “I can say that in all my years of teaching, she’s the one that stands out the most.”

Anthony said she would always come to class and get started automatically and would always work to do her best. She said she gave her class projects to do and Blakeney’s would always meet and go beyond the requirements.

There was a project dealing with plans for the future and exponential growth and Anthony said the project Blakeney turned in “probably could have been entry-level college.” 

“It was way beyond what everybody else did...she always did that,” she said. 

In addition, Anthony said she would always encourage her friends and other students to do their best. Everybody was friends with her in the hallway and she always had a smile. Anthony said she was a leader all-around. 

“She’s just one of those special students,” Anthony said. 

Blakeney’s mother, Jennifer McFadden, said she was proud and excited when she heard Blakeney had won. 

“She’s just an outstanding daughter that I’ve always been proud of,” McFadden said. 

McFadden said she has a passion for the community and has always had that. She remembered when Blakeney was young, she saved her money and instead of getting something for herself or someone else, she gave it to a homeless man on the side of the road. McFadden laughed and said they were holding up traffic while she scooped out the money and they kept telling her to just give him the jar.  

“She has a passion for people,” McFadden said. 

McFadden and Donnie Blakeney, Marlisha’s father, both live in Monroe. 

McFadden said she sees her daughter on billboards in the future, with the name of her company, helping the community. 

In addition to showing the importance of libraries, Blakeney hopes her trip to Washington, DC. will help prepare her for her future. 

She said she hopes it will help her to continue to advocate for what she thinks is very important and to stand up for what she thinks is right and to not give up.