ODU Early Childhood Education Master's Graduate Lives a Life of Service
Six years ago, Ebone Taylor was lying in a hospital bed with a broken neck, after her car was run off the road in her hometown of Richmond. The near-fatal accident was terrifying for her entire family, but for Taylor, 24, the two-week stay in hospital also became life-defining.
Seven years later, she is the recipient of a master's degree in early childhood education from Old Dominion University, and the accident has refocused her life towards one of service.
"I've always liked helping people," said Taylor, "but the accident helped put my life into perspective. I realized we only have so much time here, and we need to make the best of it."
Though the accident also left Taylor with brain damage, making it a challenge to remember things, Taylor is graduating with an A average for her master's degree. She also earned her undergraduate degree in early childhood education from ODU. And in her six years in Norfolk, Taylor has plunged into service projects.
During her undergraduate studies, Taylor began to volunteer through the student-led outreach group T.R.U.S.T. (To Respect, Unite, Support and Teach) a community service based organization that has as its goal bringing about positive and transformative change in the world. Through T.R.U.S.T., she began working as a mentor with students at Larchmont Elementary School.
"Our campus is growing so much," Taylor said. "As fast as we're growing, we need to give back to the community."
The stories she heard from elementary students, particularly from the challenged communities near Old Dominion University, inspired Taylor to do more. Through ODU's Center for Service and Civic Engagement (CSCE), she created a program called Homework Helpers, through the Lambert's Point Community Center that links up ODU student mentors with students who have a difficult time getting the necessary support at home.
"I feel like today's parents are so busy trying to do what they can to support their families, that today's kids can get left behind," Taylor said.
That effort has expanded, and Taylor has taken spring break trips with other ODU students, doing service products in challenged communities in Jacksonville and Chicago.
"Ebone has been a huge part of the center from the moment she walked in here," said Tami Park Farinholt, CSCE Coordinator. "Her work as a mentor with young people, and in creating the Homework Helpers program, demonstrates the passion she brings to her service every day."
Through T.R.U.S.T., Taylor has helped fundraise for a scholarship for a first-generation college student, being created in the name of Anita Thornton, mentor coordinator and a pre-kindergarten teacher at Larchmont Elementary.
After graduation, Taylor hopes to get a teaching job, but her ultimate goal is to create a non-profit organization to help give young children the academic support they need during the critical early years.
Taylor said her parents Sharon and Bobie worried that the accident was going to keep Ebone, one of six girls, from realizing her dreams. Instead, it's helped enable them.
"I'm a fighter," Ebone said. "I wasn't going to let this stand in my way."