Pitt-Bradford student, mom and EMT to study in Africa

Photos submitted to the Times Observer Renee Taylor, of Youngsville is pictured with her sons age 7 and 10. Taylor is a full-time student at Pitt-Bradford studying nursing, gender, sexuality and women’s studies. She will spend four weeks studying in Cape Town, South Africa in June.

When Youngsville native Renee Taylor first set foot on the campus of Pitt-Bradford in fall 2017 she had some butterflies in her stomach.

“The library was overwhelming. I wasn’t sure I could find anything,” she recalled. “I didn’t know where anything was, not even a bathroom.”

The woman who wears multiple hats as mother, licensed practical nurse and ambulance chief added a thinking cap to her wardrobe when she decided to pursue a degree as a registered nurse.

When she set off on her educational journey, she never imagined she might even add a Zulu hat to her collection but as they say — when in Rome — or South Africa.

Taylor was at a Study Abroad Fair on campus when she learned about the opportunity to spend four weeks studying in Cape Town, South Africa. “I was eligible, so I applied and was accepted,” she said.

Photos submitted to the Times Observer Youngsville native, Renee Taylor, performing her duty as Starbrick Ambulance Chief and EMT. Taylor is a nontraditional student studying nursing, gender, sexuality and women’s studies at Pitt-Bradford. She will spend four weeks studying in Cape Town, South Africa in June.

While Taylor plans on learning about topics that will add to her knowledge as a nurse, the trip also provides her the opportunity to delve into subjects related to her minor — Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies.

Plagues, epidemics, HIV and bioethics are just a few of the topics Taylor is anxious to learn more about during her trip. Bioethics is concerned with questions about basic human values. Themes such as the right to life and health, the rightness or wrongness of certain developments in healthcare institutions; life technology, medicine, the health professions and about society’s responsibility for the life and health of its members.

While her plate may be pretty full, she has found that adding academic work to her list of daily activities isn’t as challenging as some might fear. “I think I work harder as an adult student with responsibilities,” she said. “In my case this is now or never. I can’t afford to fail.”

Her dedication doesn’t go unnoticed. “It’s easier to connect with professors,” she said. “They appreciate it when you work hard.” She has also been recognized on the Dean’s List each semester.

She also attributes her academic success to support and connection with other students in similar situations. Within a few weeks of starting classes, she discovered a club for students just like her. She is currently the president of the Non-traditional Student Association.

The opportunity to learn abroad doesn’t come without a price tag, but Taylor has been working hard to overcome that potential obstacle.

She was awarded a scholarship from the Vira I. Heinz Program that she says will help offset the cost of tuition.

The Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership prepares women for tomorrow’s global challenges by offering the opportunity for international experiences, leadership development and community service.

A fundraiser dinner is also being held on Sunday to support Taylor’s mission. A chicken and biscuit dinner will be Sunday, Jan. 20 from noon to 3 p.m. at Saron Lutheran Church, 148 W. Main St., Youngsville. There will also be more than 100 items available to win during a raffle at the event.

Taylor said that anyone who would like to offer support can also send donations to her at 112 Marsh Ave., Youngsville, Pa. 16371.

“Upon my return I will be offering two presentations, one in Youngsville and the other on campus, to educate and share with others about my experience,” she said.

You can also follow along her educational journey via her blog at reneestudyinsouthafrica.wordpress.com.


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