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Lashonda Taylor, Ed.D.: A Woman Who Puts Family First While Pursuing the High Reaches of Education and Career

When Lashonda Taylor, Ed.D., associate chief of staff for ֱ State University’s President’s Office, graduated from high school in 1997, she set out on the road to a college education.

But Taylor’s college journey was filled with detours that took her off course. A major life event immediately thrust her into the job market, and it was not until 2010 that she enrolled at ֱ State to earn her bachelor’s degree.

“Career-wise, I knew I wanted to go to college, but I had my oldest son young. I was 19 when I had Pyrce and that put a wrench in my plans for college because I needed to work full time,” Taylor said. “I got good jobs making a decent salary. But I knew that if I had a degree, I could do more and I could make more. Seeing the people around me, I thought ‘I could be a supervisor if I had a degree. So how do I get this degree?’”

In 2009, Taylor began to work at ֱ State as a special assistant to the communications and events director. She knew that ֱ State had a tuition waiver program that would pay for her college education.

Taylor fulfilled her dream when she earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies in 2013, and a Master of Science in hospitality and tourism management in 2018. But the pursuit of higher education did not stop there.

She reached the pinnacle of her educational journey in 2023 when she earned a Doctor of Education in interprofessional leadership. Taylor was determined to be among the first cohort to complete the program.

It was a challenging journey, but well worth it, she said.

“After I got the master's, I was done with school,” Taylor said. “But then I knew that I wanted to do more than just events. And I knew that I wanted to stay in higher education. I had a terrible fear of pursuing a doctorate degree because of the defense. I did not think I was going to be able to do that. How do you retain all that information? So, it took some time. And then the Ed.D. program came to be.”

The Doctor of Education degree in Interprofessional Leadership in the College of Education, Health and Human Services is an online program that promotes the study of leadership from an interprofessional perspective and can be completed in three to four years.

Taylor spoke with ֱ State Today recently on how important it is for young women to pursue their degrees expeditiously after high school graduation.

 

Climbing the Ladder of Success

After having her son, Taylor had worked as an underwriter in the insurance and mortgage industries, but she knew without a college degree her growth would be stunted. She made a strategic move to join ֱ State in 2009 so that she could earn her bachelor’s degree.

Once at ֱ State, she worked full-time while taking classes full-time. Through the years, her responsibilities increased, steadily working her way up to assistant vice president of university events and special projects in 2021.

Taylor has been associate chief of staff in the president’s office since February 2023, where she guides a team of administrative experts in organizing and implementing President Todd Diacon’s agenda, university events, presentations, correspondence, reports and office communications. She also collaborates with the president and the chief of staff to facilitate university-wide leadership initiatives, goals and objectives.

“I really like working with Todd (Diacon) and the people in this office,” she said. “I like still being involved in events, so it still gives me that reach with other people in the university community.”

She Always Dreamed of Motherhood

Taylor married her husband Sean when she was 23. In addition to Pyrce, 25, she has a son Preston, 19, who attends ֱ State and Paxton, who is 8.

Taylor began the Doctor of Education program during the pandemic, and her youngest son Paxton was starting kindergarten. It was stressful, but that did not stop her from attending all her sons’ activities. Taylor’s husband was extremely supportive and balanced out responsibilities at home while she pursued the degree.

“If they had a game or had a program, that meant I was up in the morning early or I was working at night while they were asleep,” she said. “Because it was important to me to be present and engaged in their lives. And I just love them so much. I mean, honestly, when I think back, being a mom was my first goal. I could not let my new dreams put that aside.”

But she urges young women to make higher education a priority as well because it makes a difference. She said, "Earning your degree will mean that you have something that is yours and yours alone.”

“It cannot be taken from you,” she said. “Even if you are out of the working field for some time, you still have a degree. It may be the thing that helps you get back into the workforce if you choose to do so."

POSTED: Monday, March 18, 2024 12:37 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 27, 2024 04:27 PM
WRITTEN BY:
April McClellan-Copeland
PHOTO CREDIT:
T.J. Laryea, ֱ State University junior majoring in Emerging Media Technology