What Would You Do: Raven Magwood ’12

With a highly successful, multifaceted career, Magwood didn’t always know what she wanted to do. Until her mother asked her a question that changed her life.

Raven Magwood

Raven Magwood co-owns and operates her own gymnastics training facility; has written four books; established a foundation to support underserved kids in Upstate South Carolina; has written and helped produce an independent film; and gives motivational speeches to schools and groups all over the country.

And she’s only 26.

Magwood, a Greenville native, started school and gymnastics early. At age 10, she was competing in the highest level of the sport while getting perfect grades on her report cards, which fast-tracked her through middle school and saw her starting high school at age 12. That same year, she became a national gymnastics champion.

During this time, Magwood was once asked if she’d ever thought writing about her unique experiences. She replied tongue-in-cheek: “No, I’m 12 years old!”

Nevertheless, she did start writing. Her first published book, On to Victory! The Winning Edge, scored her an invitation to be the keynote speaker at a promotional event for Stedman Graham’s new book at the time, Move Without the Ball, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Despite her nerves and nausea, 12-year-old Magwood got a standing ovation.

It’s obvious that writing and speaking came naturally to her at a young age, and yet Magwood remembers always hearing, “‘You’re smart, so you should be a doctor.’ It was just kind of drilled into me, not by my parents, but just by outside people.”

So, when it came time for college, she followed a pre-med track and excelled in her classes — but she wasn’t happy. Her mom noticed, sat her down and asked her, “What would you do if someone would pay you any amount of money to do it?”

Magwood’s answer was almost immediate: “I would speak. I would write. I would inspire people.”

Magwood changed her major and graduated from Clemson at 19 with a degree in communication studies. Since then, she’s continued her filmmaking; gymnastics coaching; writing with her most recent book, The 7 Practices of Prosperous Women; and motivational speaking. One speaking experience in Columbia has stayed with her.

After a day filled with speeches in different schools, Magwood remembers feeling tired and worried that she might not have gotten through to the kids who were on free or reduced lunch at the first school she spoke at, or the kids whose parents were paying $15,000 in tuition at the next. Then she heard the coordinator of the Columbia tour say to one of the school’s principals, “It’s amazing how Raven has spoken to all of these kids with all of these different backgrounds, and they’ve all related to her and gone away inspired.”

In that moment, she knew she had found it — what she would do if someone paid her any amount to do it.

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