By: Taylor Holloway, ’19
My origin story is somewhat of a bumpy one. In high school, I would say that I was efficient but not someone that stood out of the crowd. I’ve always known I wanted to go to college, but I felt that I had limits in my ability. I wasn’t top of my class, but I was a hard worker. With the goal of having college in mind, I pushed myself to the limit by participating in multiple clubs and high school organizations. I am a first-generation college student, so the resources of SAT training and college searches were not in my favor. Nevertheless, I was able to get into the College of Charleston as a provisional student. I would be lying if I said that coming in as a provisional student didn’t weigh heavy on me. Even though it was my dream to go to college, I felt that I barely got in. Coming in as a freshman, I already had insecurities and doubts about my academic ability. Those doubts created depression, and I was barely able to pass my freshman year. What saved me was my love for music. I loved music so much that I held on to my dreams and aspirations to graduate with my bachelor’s in violin performance. My violin teacher also had inspired me in many ways. She never gave up on me and helped me all four years of undergrad. In the end, I was able to do it, and I graduated on time! I was so proud of myself, but I still felt sort of lost. I didn’t have a plan after graduation. No one in my family graduated from college, so I never understood the importance of doing internships as an undergrad. Without fieldwork experience, I knew it was going to be difficult for me to find a job.
At the end of graduation, the Art Department held a party for the graduating class. It was there when I met Karen Chandler, Director of the Arts and Cultural Management Certificate Program. She told me about her graduate certificate program, and it sparked my interest. However, I’ve never considered going to graduate school prior. Again, I am a first-generation student, and graduate school never crossed my mind because I didn’t think it was an option for someone like me. With my previous doubts coming in as a freshman, I felt like I barely got my undergraduate degree, so there is no way I could get my graduate degree. After looking into the program some more, I decided I would at least give it a try. It was only a year-long program, and I didn’t have any other plans. The professors in the program helped me out more than I could have ever imagined. When I expressed my passion for music and violin, they immediately found me an internship with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra as a production assistant. Through that opportunity, I found a new passion in me, and it sort of ignited a fire in me. I loved the behind the scene work with the orchestra. I was able to network and talk with the orchestra members, and I was able to see the logistics of running a professional orchestra show. I’ve never had that experience working with a prestigious group like the Charleston Symphony, and it changed my life. I craved more opportunities like that one. Since my classes were terrific, I wanted to expand my knowledge, so I decided that I needed more administration experience.
Through my curiosity in administration work, I came across the Masters of Public Administration graduate program. I met with Marla Robertson ( Master of Public Administration Program Coordinator and Community Assistance Program Director). She helped me so much with figuring out if this program was a good fit for me. When I decided to apply to the program (to my surprise), I got accepted! With the help of the courses of the MPA program and the Arts and Cultural Management Certificate program (and its professors), I have done work for the Sottile Theater, The Charleston Gaillard Center, and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Currently, I work as the Graduate Assistant for Institutional Diversity here at the College of Charleston. Through the work as a graduate assistant, I can help out with many different initiatives that our department plans. I can experience programming in many different phases of the process. Sometimes I am helping a program in the beginning stages of planning or helping with an already in place program. It’s great to see and experience planning in both aspects, and I feel like I’m learning a lot for my future endeavors.
If you plan to go to graduate school, I would highly recommend looking into graduate assistantships even as a freshman! There are few internship opportunities post-graduation, and consolidating and figuring out what you want to do early on is critical. Even if graduate school is the farthest thing from your mind (like how I was), just know that it is never too late for an opportunity to happen to you. The key is to have an open mind and allow professionals around you to help and mentor you. It is okay to say that you don’t know what your next step is. Someone will be there to help you make that move at the College of Charleston; I can almost guarantee it.
Here is a motivational video that has helped me pushed forward! Don’t Be Afraid To Be Seen Trying.
Taylor Holloway is the Graduate Assistant for the Office of Institutional Diversity. She is also the treasurer for the Graduate Student Association. In her free time, she works as a violin teacher and works part-time as a house and venue manager at The Charleston Gaillard Center.