The former president of the Messiah College Black Student Union (BSU), Rachel Taylor ’17 entered Howard University School of Law this fall. She credits Messiah with teaching her who she needs to be to further the kingdom of God.
She says as an African-American woman at Messiah, she had many conversations about race with her peers as an undergraduate.
“I love Messiah and thoroughly enjoyed my time,” she said. “Although I had no problem sitting in a position of a teacher and educator, sometimes you want to just be a regular student. Messiah showed me how to give gracious answers when I was asked unconventional or uncomfortable questions.”
In her senior year at Messiah, she launched the BSU Education Initiative to advance the goal of ensuring that the College continues its work toward becoming a diverse place of learning for students from many demographics.
Through the initiative, the club partnered with SciTech Academy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to host its own admissions day for all high school students of color, highlighting the importance and value of a Messiah education.
While encouraging high school students to consider attending Messiah, Taylor wrestled with the next step in her own education. When applying to law schools, she says she considered several factors: community, demographics, opportunities and, obviously, academics. She also faced the challenge of deciding whether to apply to HBCUs (historically black colleges) or PWIs (predominantly white institutions).
“I wanted to make the best choice for the woman I was seeking to become,” she said.
As a result, she ultimately chose Howard, an HBCU. At the same time, however, she says she worried if law school could come close to replicating Messiah’s sense of community and inclusivity.
“[Messiah] always worked to make sure you felt like family,” said Taylor. “From getting to know your professors on a personal level to Bible studies, the Lottie experience, late nights at the Union and even knowing your college president on a real level.”
She need not have worried.
“When we were officially inducted as Howard Law students, the dean looked us all in the eye and said, ‘Welcome home.’ A warm sensation came over me and I felt as though I was complete,” said Taylor.
At Howard, Taylor says she’s building on all the support Messiah provided toward the establishment of her advocacy, reconciliation and faith. “Messiah really helped me grow and struggle in a good way with my faith,” she said. “I believe it prepared me for all that I am currently facing now, and I owe that to Messiah.”
Taylor also says Messiah helped her develop a level of patience she didn’t know she had. “Messiah taught me how to be compassionate to people I didn’t think I could extend that to,” she said. “But above all, Messiah also taught me that there is still so much work to be done.”
— Jake Miaczynski ’20