Taylor Duguay, a Political Science and Communications Studies double-major at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, is a tireless advocate for low-income families and persons who are homeless. As a member of Stetson's Bonner Program, Taylor has volunteered with The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia for two years, beginning as a client assistant and food pantry organizer, then as a volunteer recruiter and coordinator, and now as researcher and grant writer who is Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) certified. Beyond her work at The Neighborhood Center, Taylor has taken significant leadership roles with our campus Bonner Program - opportunities that allow Taylor to mentor 60 other student civic leaders, train them to develop additional professional and leadership skills, and find ways to integrate their academic and career goals with meaningful needs in our community. Taylor also works with Stetson faculty and students to integrate community-engaged learning into courses that leverage student and faculty research interests to solve community-based challenges. After she graduates, Taylor will pursue a career in public interest law, from which she can effect change through legal policies that impact impoverished persons - continuing her work as an advocate who is committed to breaking the cycle of poverty.
Prior to entering college, I had grand plans to change the world someday; although I tried my best to become educated about social justice issues, all of my college entry essays still included misappropriated quotes from Gandhi about being the change. When I came to college, I realized that my passion for change in the lives of low-income families could be applied to my local community on a small scale -that though I may not be able to immediately change the whole world, I could make a significant change in my community. Throughout my time at Stetson University, I have engaged in more than 1,300 hours of service in my community, working at local food pantries, with a youth basketball league, and on campus working to expand service-learning. These experiences have taught me about the many ways one can make change in the lives of those around them, and because of my work thus far, I know that I will continue to make change on the local level for the rest of my life.