Although Mrs. Eloise Ash Taylor thinks of herself as “just an ordinary woman”, she’s accomplished some pretty extraordinary things during her lifetime. On May 9th, 2014 she will walk across the stage as a graduate of the Alcorn State University Human Sciences Program, an impressive feat for anyone to achieve. But what makes Ms. Taylor’s story so phenomenal is that she achieved her Bachelor’s degree as a 79-year-old mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and community servant. Today, after a long and challenging four years, she is a proud Alcornite and soon-to-be alumnae.
Ms. Taylor was born into a small farm-family in West Point, Mississippi in 1936. Her parents gave birth to three daughters and three sons, however, they unfortunately perished early on, leaving the children to fend largely for themselves.
Ms. Taylor married at an early age as was customary during that time, and soon her first child was born. She stated that during this time, education simply wasn’t an option for her. However, she was always interested in learning more.
“I always wanted to go to college, so when I got a chance to go, after all the children grew up and left home and my husband passed away, I didn’t have anything to do, so I thought, “this seems like a good time,” she said.
With her adult children dispersed across various parts of the United States, the 74-year-old Ms. Taylor began her collegiate studies. She recalls that she majored in Human Sciences because she had a passion for helping children. She teaches Sunday School at Second Baptist Church of Port Gibson and through this tenure, has witnessed many changes in the generational parenting styles.
“So many of the children are just kind of neglected and they end up misguided,” Taylor stated. “I just thought it would be good if I could help in some way.”
Ms. Taylor serves as an inspiration for many who may have an interest in furthering their education, but feel that their season has passed.
She said, “I encourage a lot of people, especially older women to continue their education. I want people to know it’s never too late to better yourself. I also tell the young people that they need more than just high school.”
Ms. Taylor states that she has learned a lot throughout this experience, yet it was not without some trials along the way.
“There was a lot of times I thought about giving up but the nice people in my department, especially my good friend Dr. Carrie Ford, encouraged me to keep on going. The hardest part for me was the technology. I had never experienced that, but the young people came up with it so they know it very well. I was kind of stuck in my old ways, but the students and the teachers helped me to grow. I also learned a lot about diversity because there are all types of people here from all around the nation and the world. But the most important thing that I learned and try to preach to others is that you’re never too old to learn.”
Ms. Taylor has one son who lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he is an accomplished musician. She also has three daughters, two of whom live and work in various aspects of the health care field in Dallas, Texas and one who is a school teacher in Louisiana. Her baby daughter is studying to be a nurse’s aide. She also has a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren who have been supportive throughout the process and are proud of her accomplishments. “They all plan to be here and are excited to see me walk across that stage,” she said.