Maria Taylor, a second year student at Chatham University, is passionately invested in finding solutions to social problems faced by her community. Maria's adolescence was characterized by a series of eleven different households that created challenges atypical of most high school students. She has embraced her experiences and challenges and today is a resilient student leader dedicated to enhancing the lives of students at Chatham University and the City of Pittsburgh. Maria is an outstanding student and enjoys learning in the classroom as well as outside the classroom. Apart from dedicating her time in pursuit of academic excellence, Maria dedicates her time to tackling social issues in her community to contribute to the betterment of their lives. Maria has made significant differences in the lives of Chatham's students and the surrounding community members. Maria's current service work is in the areas of support programs and resources for students faced with financial challenges, sexual assault prevention policies and programs and support for marginalized students.
My childhood and teenage years were difficult. As a child, I existed in a world of poverty, domestic abuse and with an understanding that the cycle I had found myself in was somehow inescapable. When I was taken from my parents' home and placed within the Foster Care system I became determined to break the cycle I was born into even when I was bounced from home to home throughout high school. Once in college I was finally given the chance to grow. I was removed from violence. I had a safe and stable place to sleep and my meal plan assured me I had enough to eat. Every day I have moments of awe, unsure how I am so lucky to be where I am today as I am well aware of the statistical outcome surrounding those with a similar identity. Since I entered college, I made the decision to utilize my experiences, knowledge, talents and skills to give back to those who are marginalized and less fortunate than me. The service work and civic engagement I am currently involved in focus on first generation, undocumented, homeless, low-socioeconomic status, and former foster children and youth.