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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Taylor Gaskins


Taylor Gaskins ‘20 knew that she would spend her college career becoming a leader. What she may not have known, however, was the extent to which her leadership would be actualized through the passion she would pour into each and every one of her several commitments at Grinnell.

As a senior at her high school in Washington, D.C., Gaskins selected Grinnell as her first choice during the application process for the Posse scholarship program, which is designed to create leadership opportunities through education for a diverse group of students. Upon being accepted and committing, she became a member of what would be the last class of Posse scholars to attend Grinnell before the College ended its relationship with the program.

“Posse helps build connections before [our first year] so that when we get to college, we will have people that will walk with us during that time,” said Gaskins. “That has been a great experience because before I even got to school, I had my family.”

Having never visited campus before the August of her first year, Gaskins immediately began to explore all that Grinnell had to offer when she arrived. She initially intended to study history and economics and then go on to law school but ended up double-majoring in English and Spanish. Gaskins also worked towards completing the education licensure program before ultimately choosing to step away from the program last semester.

The list of roles she has served at Grinnell stands out for its range and breadth: Writing Lab monitor, CRSSJ intern, babysitter, Black Faith planning committee member, leader of Women’s Bible Study, co-founder of Black Faith, singer in the Young Gifted and Black gospel choir, Education SEPC member and founder and editor-in-chief of faith magazine “Hope in the Darkest Days.”

“Because of the fact that I had to manage all of those at the same time and the passion and commitment I had for them, they taught me a lot about what it takes to do those things,” said Gaskins. “Even if I’m a leader, I realize I still have room to grow and I can’t do what I want to see done by myself. I need other people to help me.”

Gaskins handled all the challenges of leadership with poise, grace and an infectious laugh that can brighten a room — even over the phone.

“It was very hard to be in Iowa so far from home and not have the support of my family,” said Gaskins. “Being able to create spaces that I needed, that definitely helped me to get through.”

Unsurprisingly, Gaskins said one of her only regrets is that she didn’t do even more.  “Looking back, I still want to learn piano,” she laughed.

Whether it be frolicking with friends in the corn pit at Uncle Bill’s Farm or eating stale popcorn at a Spanish movie theatre on her GLP trip first year, Gaskins emphasized the importance of cherishing individual moments within her hectic schedule.

Gaskins is currently exploring her post-grad options. She said she feels “called to focus on ministry,” hoping to strengthen her relationship with God while helping others and finding ways to build off her experiences at Grinnell.

“There are so many people at Grinnell that make it worth it,” said Gaskins, mentioning her advisors Melissa Benoist and Dean Bakopoulos, Assistant to the Chaplain Stacey Cannon, Director of Intercultural Affairs Vrinda Varia and the new families she has become a part of through Posse and Black Faith.

“I know that Grinnell is where I was meant to be. Regardless of the struggles and hard times, the people have made it worth it.”

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