Sometimes, to find our truest self, we must navigate a maze of dead ends, pushing on through our losses and disorientation. But once we come out on the other side, we may find a new identity: as a guide for those facing similar challenges, and a force to create a more equitable world.
Nasha Taylor came to SUNY Broome in 2003, a few years after a rough start at the University at Albany. Heading to a four-year university right after her high school graduation proved socially and academically overwhelming for the Binghamton native. A dismal first semester culminated in a date-rape experience and Nasha simply gave up, withdrawing from school that winter.
“I didn’t have a confident sense of self, no study habits, no real vision for life,” she remembered.
Over the next three years, she worked and bounced between different living situations. Without a college education, her future seemed limited.
Interested in audio engineering, she enrolled in the Communication & Media Arts program at SUNY Broome – and found the motivation to succeed. During her first semester, she earned all As and one B, “a huge confidence boost” that helped her set a new trajectory. One of her first instructors in a core class was Monique Simón, whom Nasha found to be “brilliant, experienced and dedicated.”
“That first semester influenced my interests from being an audio engineer to studying the relationship between media and society,” Nasha said. “This was a strong catalyst for the rest of my time on campus and it opened my mind and many doors.”
The Phi Theta Kappa honor society and the college’s Honors Program also gave Nasha the opportunity to broaden her horizons, and earn an array of grants and scholarships. She credits Professor Bruce Oldfield, one of the faculty advisors of PTK at the time, with encouraging her to think big when it came to her transfer options. She did and enrolled at New York University – but hit a block due to unmet financial need a few weeks before her first semester was scheduled to begin.
Her story didn’t end there, however. Nasha Taylor won the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, the premier community college transfer scholarship in the nation, ensuring her a free ride to her transfer school. She opted for Temple University in Philadelphia, owing to its diversity, the reputation of its communications program, the size of its media market and Philadelphia’s cultural history of community organizing.
Nasha earned her bachelor’s degree in Broadcast, Telecommunications and Mass Media from Temple in 2009. Her career mission since then has focused on fostering people’s personal and professional growth, and working to build communities and systems free from fear, scarcity and deception.
Post-graduation, her journey took her from the People’s Emergency Center in Philadelphia, where she coordinated its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and managed its center for Digital Inclusion & Technology, to classrooms at the Children’s Home of the Wyoming Conference and a stint as a community engagement specialist at the United Way of Broome County.
She returned to Philadelphia as program manager for Year Up, which provides young people with the training and opportunities they need for meaningful careers at top companies. In the fall of 2018, she landed her current gig as community engagement director for PhillyCAM, a public access TV and community radio station in Philadelphia.
She has made an impact on a more personal level, too, adopting a teenager whom she has mentored for several years.
“I love it. The mission is meaningful and my colleagues and the members are inspiring,” she said of her current career. “My role allows me to support the growth and development of individuals and partnerships. I’m where I want to be right now, exploring the intersections of creative consciousness and social justice.”