When she turned five, Ashley Daisley ’12 (BS BE) told her mom she wanted guests to bring books to her birthday party, not presents. It was an odd request, she acknowledges in retrospect, but her mom relayed the message and her friends complied.
To everyone’s surprise, the book-themed event was a massive hit. The five-year-olds spent nearly the entire party reading aloud from the books they’d brought.
In that moment, Daisley’s mom saw opportunity—she brought the idea of “reading parties” to Ashley’s day care center in Brooklyn, and later to area Barnes & Noble bookstores. She formed a literary organization, Young Readers Network. Ashley was integral to the new nonprofit: she attended the events dressed as a butterfly, reading books to her peers. Their story was written up in the New York Times, and they received a letter from President Bill Clinton thanking them for their work.
The experience taught Daisley that there is value in paying close attention to what resonates with people and being brave enough to act on that knowledge. “I loved that there was a way to take a little idea and turn it into something that had an impact on a lot of people’s lives,” she says. It’s a lesson she carried with her to WPI and one that has helped her thrive beyond it.