Kayla Taylor ’20

Kayla Taylor ’20

Photo by Skylar Hou ’22

Name: Kayla Taylor ’20
Hometown: Miami Gardens, Florida
Academics: biological sciences major; gender studies minor; pre-health
Pronouns: she, her, hers 

By Sasha Nyary 

Kayla Taylor’s experience at Mount Holyoke College has been about the community she’s helped build and the ways she wants to make a difference. 

“My proudest accomplishment here has to be the relationships I’ve made,” she said. “As a first-year student, I was scared. I thought, I’ve left all my friends at home. But I made new ones. The friends I’ve made at Mount Holyoke will be at my wedding. They’ll be in the delivery room when I’m giving birth. They’ll be there and have been there at my lowest moments. I’ve made lifelong friendships at Mount Holyoke.” 

Taylor has made many of those friends through her efforts with the Association of Pan-African Unity, or APAU, which she co-chaired for two years. She was also the community advisor for the Shirley Chisholm Living-Learning Community, a residence hall community designed to support students who are of African descent, identify within the African diaspora and/or wish to foster connections between different cultures within the diaspora.

“What I love the most here is the sense of community and space we hold for one another, and for other people of color on campus,” Taylor said. “There’s definitely a sense of community — and how we give back to the community, as well.” 

She’s been guided, in part, by biology professor Renae Brodie, who is chair of the neuroscience and behavior program. Taylor has worked in Brodie’s lab for three years. 

“She’s taught me a multitude of lessons, indirectly and directly, within the classroom and outside of the classroom,” Taylor said. “She’s shown me how important it is to make space for people who look like me and to guide them, whether or not I’m mentoring them directly. A really important lesson I’ve learned from Renae is, regardless of what I’m lacking, to recognize that I do have privilege and I can use it to help other people.” 

Taylor came to Mount Holyoke as a Posse Scholar and planned to be a doctor. She is a biology major and spent one of her three summer internships learning basic clinical skills at the Miami Rescue Mission Clinic, where she worked with men transitioning out of homelessness or coming out of the prison system.

Her various explorations led her to conclude that she’d rather be a physician’s assistant, with a possible focus on obstetrics and gynecology, primary care geared toward trans and gender non-conforming individuals, or dermatology. 

“I realized I am needed elsewhere in the medical field, and not necessarily as a physician,” Taylor said. “It was hard to realize what I truly want for myself. Now I know that is to make a difference in the world.”