Story by: Sydney Gaines

Three years ago, Taylor Collins took center stage as the commencement speaker at Germanna’s December commencement ceremony.

“Setbacks do not have to lead to tragedy,” she shared in her speech. “There is no greater accomplishment than picking yourself up after a fall, for when you do this, you look failure in the eyes and dare it to trip you up again. Remember—you fail, you fight, and you finish.”

For Taylor, this message holds a lot of personal truth.

After graduating high school in the thick of the 2020 pandemic, Taylor was unsure of her next steps in her educational journey.  

I wasn’t prepared for college. I didn’t apply to as many schools as I should have, nor did I give myself the opportunity to grow as a student in high school. When I graduated, I was in a not-so-positive headspace, and I was beating myself up for not preparing for my next steps after graduation.
Taylor Collins
Germanna Alumna

Determined to redeem herself and set herself up for success in the future, Taylor began seeking out options to help her prepare for higher education. She stumbled upon Germanna’s College Everywhere program, an at the time brand new program that allowed students to complete their bachelor’s degree completely online in just one year.  

“My stepmom knew I was disappointed in myself after my high school journey ended, so she discussed College Everywhere with me. I was able to sit on a call with one of the program advisors to get more information, and I was really interested in what the program had to offer.”

Taylor took the leap and enrolled in Germanna’s College Everywhere program in its inaugural cohort in 2020.

“Starting my higher education journey with College Everywhere was important to me because I wanted to challenge myself,” Taylor says. “I wanted to tackle my areas of improvement before I went off to a four-year university.”

And she did just that. Taylor excelled in the program, sharpening her communication and time management skills, creating lasting relationships with her classmates and professors, and becoming more familiar with technology, given that all of her coursework was online.

College Everywhere was challenging,” she says. “There were a lot of different classes that I had to take in a certain amount of time, so it was fairly rigorous. But it was definitely a huge benefit for me and really proved to set me up for success in my next steps.”

Taylor graduating from Germanna’s College Everywhere program)
Taylor graduating from Germanna’s College Everywhere program

After completing her associate degree in 2021, Taylor seamlessly transferred to Virginia State University, where she was accepted in to the honors college and studied political science with a minor in philosophy.

I definitely felt more prepared heading into VSU because of the College Everywhere program. I was able to take all of the new skills I’d learned in the program with me and put them to good use at the university.
Taylor Collins
Germanna Alumna

As soon as Taylor arrived at VSU, she hit the ground running, involving herself in various organizations and clubs to have an active voice on campus. She took on a leadership role, serving as the president for the University’s Association of Political Science, an organization focused on civil engagement and civil education. She also became a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, positioning her as an advocate and changemaker within her campus community.

In these roles, Taylor was required to connect with a diverse range of people, something that her time in the College Everywhere program prepared her for.

“One of my favorite parts about College Everywhere was getting the opportunity to sit down with my professors and forge relationships with my classmates. I was able to receive life lessons and pointers from them that I took with me to VSU, and it even helped me with just being able to create lasting bonds and communicate with others effectively.”

This May, Taylor graduated from Virginia State University as the Valedictorian of her class, finishing with a 4.0 GPA. She is now preparing to take her LSAT, with big dreams of attending Georgetown University, Howard University, or Columbia University for law school.

Taylor Collins at her graduation from Virginia State University this May
Taylor at her graduation from Virginia State University this May

Continuing on a successful trajectory, Taylor is incredibly grateful that her setbacks after high school did not lead to tragedy. She picked herself up, dusted herself off, and kept moving forward, as her 2021 Germanna commencement speech suggested.

A bright future ahead, Taylor is excited for what is to come and is thankful for the boost that the College Everywhere program gave her.

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