Tenaya Taylor is a homegrown Hartford success story. After leaving her mark at Capital Community College, she earned a scholarship from Capital’s honor society to Trinity College and is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree there. Her background – “coming out of generations of poverty and low levels of education” – led her to see the value of higher education.
“I saw that the only way out was to continue my education in order to make a better life for myself and my family,” she said. But more than just advancement for herself, Tenaya began to see the role she could play in improving the lives of others and her community.
During her time at Capital, Tenaya realized that achieving good grades and personal accolades were not the only measures of success. Her most gratifying experiences were those working with other students. Tutoring at the Academic Success Center, Tenaya saw how much she had in common with other students, juggling academics, home responsibilities, and work, all while keeping up with the rigors of higher education. She developed greater listening and problem solving skills, especially tutoring in English.
“A lot of people think that they aren’t writers or that they don’t have good ideas but with a little help and patience they’re shocked at what they are able to create,” she observed.
Seeing students expand their thinking was rewarding for Tenaya. All the while, she applied what she learned in her own classes, paying it forward to other hardworking students.
“Often students would come back to thank me for my help and when that happened I liked to remind them of all their ideas, their strengths, and how capable they are,” she said.
Tenaya’s efforts haven’t been limited to the academic setting: She has begun organizing and outreach efforts around issues of food policy and food security. She credits Capital’s diversity with preparing her to work with a wide range of people.
“I find that everything that I do comes around full circle as I work to create equity within my community,” Tenaya shared.
At Trinity, she is learning more about Hartford’s history and demographic changes, which she discovered is directly related to her community work: “I help people see that the city is truly something to be proud of and there is so much more that we can do by working together.”
Tenaya received a Community Food Security award from the Hartford Advisory Commission on Food Policy. Working as a co-organizer for Hartford Food System’s youth program, Tenaya teaches about social justice and food, and has been a frequent panelist speaking about these and other issues.
Though she has just begun at Trinity College, Tenaya already has her sights set on graduate school. With her commitment to academic excellence and community involvement, she is poised to continue her great work into the future.Liberal Arts Degree Info