Emma Taylor ’20
By Sasha Nyary
Emma Taylor said yes her first semester and that has made all the difference.
The first time Taylor said yes was when the crew coach noticed her working out in the Kendall Sports & Dance Complex and suggested she try out for the team. She walked in as a novice, having never rowed before.
“I didn’t even know you could row on the water,” Taylor said. “I thought it was done on the ergometer rowing machines in the gym. We spent the first two weeks in the erg room. I thought, this is fun. This is tough. I can do this. And then we got on the water and I thought, this is even better!”
The instant community of students ranging from first-years to seniors paid off immediately. Learning that Taylor was fluent in French, one of her teammates, a senior, advised her to be sure to take a class with Catherine Le Gouis, the current chair of the French department.
So Taylor said yes again and signed up for the professor’s seminar on the French detective novel. She was the only first-year student in a class of senior French majors.
“It was very intimidating at times,” she said. “But it was a great learning moment. To be in a classroom of people who aren’t necessarily your age but have similar interests really pushes you. And this professor made the class so interesting. This semester I’m working with her as a teaching assistant.”
Taylor also said yes to enrolling in beginning Italian that semester — almost on a whim.
“Growing up I spoke French at home and I forgot how one learns a language,” Taylor said. “I just thought it would be fun. I thought I was going to be an art history major, maybe with some French on the side to keep it up. But my professor, Morena Svaldi, was so good I decided to make Italian part of my major and become a Romance languages major. I didn’t know that would happen. Then I decided to study abroad and that changed my life, as clichéd as that sounds.”
Taylor spent a summer in Paris working for Kid Shows, an international children’s fashion trade show. She used her Lynk internship funding in Paris for a second summer, this time working with a small fashion startup company, where she was in charge of creating content for social media and blogs. She spent her junior year abroad, studying in Bologna, Italy, and working over winter break for Kid Shows.
Back in the United States and buoyed by positive experiences with the European alumnae she had met, Taylor reached out to her former crew teammate Molly LaPointe ’17.
“We hadn’t had much contact after she graduated, but then last fall, I went to New York City to a concert of a French artist,” Taylor said. “She said, ‘Come stay with me, I’ll host you.’ We reconnected and she reminded me about her job working for a company in Umbria, which she had mentioned when I was abroad. I decided to apply for real this time, after hearing her speak so well of it. I got the position and will start in August. It's a really fun full-circle moment.”
Taylor, who serves as a senior community advisor for Wilder Hall this year, wants to work in communications in the fashion or art world and possibly pursue a master’s degree. Her work for the international trade show means she’s all set to work in the United States or Europe.
“It’s nice to have that many options,” she said. “It’s a good problem, to have to figure out what country you want to live in.”