Why I Chose First Book: Sydney Shearer

Sydney Shearer
Chair of the First Book-Rhodes College Campus Advisory Board
Memphis, Tennessee
Sydney Shearer of the First Book-Rhodes College Advisory Board

Rhodes College in Memphis is the #1 school in the nation when it comes to community service. Those kids mean business.

Sydney Shearer, who heads up First Book’s local volunteer chapter — known as a Campus Advisory Board — at Rhodes, also means business. Literacy, she says, is the most important issue you can devote your time to, because it gets to the heart of so many other things: education, economic stability, incarceration rates.

“I don’t want to do things that just put a Band-Aid on the issue,” she said. “I want to do things that fix the problem.”

Sydney attends Rhodes on a scholarship that requires her to dedicate at least ten hours a week to service projects. First Book has been her organization of choice for her entire school career; when she visited the college as a high-school senior, the young woman she stayed with was the First Book chair.

Working with First Book has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her college life, she said. Especially getting the chance to bring books directly to students at local schools in Memphis.

“They’re used to reading books at school or in libraries,” she said. “Their eyes just bright up when they realize they get to take the books home with them.”

As a senior, Sydney will soon be graduating and letting other volunteers take over her responsibilities. She is looking at graduate programs for public service, as well as Teach for America, but she plans to stay with First Book, no matter where she goes.

“When I’ve been looking at different graduate schools, I look to see if there’s a First Book chapter in that city,” she said. “Okay, there’s a First Book Advisory Board here I could join … there isn’t one here, so I’d have to start one … But I will definitely stay involved. I love First Book!”

First Book Wants You! Help us get books to kids who need them in your community. To learn more about volunteering, visit us online.