When University of Southern Mississippi students experienced the Human Library on Feb. 22, there was one “book” whom no one was able to check out. That book was coordinator Marie Adkinson.
When I first saw Marie, she was running from table to table on the day of the Human Library, talking to students as if they had known each other for years. I was able to sit down with Marie two weeks later and discover the mind behind the Human Library event.
Upon meeting Marie Adkinson, one is immediately swept into a bubble of energy, passion and, somehow, calmness. Talking to Marie is like reading a book that constantly keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. Five minutes in, you’re not only surprised by all that she is telling you but by all you are telling her.
Marie began her career at USM in 2009 as an undergrad pursuing a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. She stayed at USM to earn her Master’s degree and has called the Hattiesburg campus home ever since.
She now works as a coordinator at Resident Life, where she founded the Advocacy for Civility, Change, Equality, Safety and Social Justice (ACCESS).
After chatting with Marie for five minutes, it is easy to see her passion is promoting acceptance and equality. This is seen in her work with ACCESS and, most recently, the Human Library. Arguably,MarieimpactsstudentsatUSM that she has never met just through her commitment to spread and encourage acceptance on campus, focusing mainly on social justice.
Growing up in Pearl, surely the passion within her must have had a catalyst of some sort to ignite the fire. Right? Wrong.
“I’ve been very fortunate to just be open-minded,” Adkinson said. “In high school, I had a friend that told everyone she lived with her aunt and mom. Later she told me that that wasn’t actually her aunt and that she had two moms. That was all because she heard me being open-minded with someone else. For me, that was big deal.”
One act of acceptance led to another, and another and another. All those acts have put Marie where she is today.
Marie’s story is far from over, and if we’re lucky enough, she’ll write a few more chapters here at USM.
Oh, and if you thought she didn’t have anything else up her sleeve, she is also a mime, proving that actions really do speak louder than words.