Forget e-readers, Brittany Cox likes the feel of a real book in her hands. She enjoys flipping the pages and knowing exactly how many are left until she reaches the end. She likes searching through libraries and bookstores and the excitement of discovering a new series that includes wizardry, fantasy and magic. She lists the Harry Potter books, the Hunger Games Trilogy, and the Divergent series among her favorites.

Brittany’s love of reading began in second grade when her teacher pushed her to meet Accelerated Reader goals. She was focused on doing her best and, in the process, discovered that reading can be enjoyable. Today she seldom leaves home without a good book tucked in her bag, but insists “I prefer to have an actual copy of a book to read.”

Because of her love for reading, it’s not surprising that English is one of her favorite classes. As a college student, she’s had the opportunity to read Shakespeare and discover Sherlock Holmes. She’s currently reading Ian McEwan’s Atonement as part of her Survey of English Literature II class.

All that reading paid off last year when Brittany won the VHCC Spelling Bee and the $150 prize that went with it. She’s planning to compete again this year — and hoping for similar results.

A resident of Bristol, Brittany attended three different high schools before graduating from John Battle High in 2015. She earned the Washington County Community Scholarship, primarily by helping her grandfather cut and stack wood for neighborhood residents, which made VHCC an affordable choice. She is pursuing a degree in science and hopes, eventually, to attend medical school. Both sports medicine and pediatrics are specialties she has considered.

“I’ve always liked helping people and being around kids,” she said, noting that much of her free time is spent watching after two little sisters, a younger brother, and a handful of cousins. “I used to babysit all the time and really didn’t mind it.”

She realizes that medical school will be tough and has pledged to focus more on her science courses in the coming months. She plans to graduate from VHCC in Spring 2018, and already is looking at the possibility of transferring to Emory & Henry College, the University of Virginia, the University of Alabama, or Virginia Tech. All have excellent pre-med programs, she said.

If all goes well, she’ll still have medical school ahead of her. And while she hasn’t yet begun exploring the options available, she’s pretty certain where she’ll eventually settle down.

“There’s no place like home, right?”