Meet Jordy Taylor, a senior at Converse College with a passion for sharks and lacrosse. Growing up in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, she enjoyed the beach and considered it her backyard. At the age of seven, Jordy decided that "unraveling the ocean's mysteries" was her life's work; and she spent as much time as she could exploring the beach; any remaining free time was spent watching nature programs.
Jordy moved to Charleston, South Carolina, at the age of twelve. At the age of fifteen, she had the good fortune of meeting up with Richard Shafto, a paleontologist who previously worked at the Smithsonian, and she became his apprentice. Over the next six years, Jordy participated in digs up and down the South Carolina coast where she was able to appreciate the marine world for its history, not only what she could visibly see. During that time, she also began collecting sharks' teeth and marine fossils.
Jordy became interested in lacrosse when she was fourteen, and she was very active in the sport during high school. Her team competed in a state championship. Today, Jordy enjoys playing lacrosse at Converse and serves as team captain.
But her journey to Converse College was a bit rocky. When it was time to look at colleges, Jordy was very clear: She wanted a college with a strong biology program and an NCAA lacrosse team. And like most of her classmates, going to an "all girl's school" was not going to happen. In fact, like other students Jordy had no interest in even exploring the possibility of attending such a college. The idea was simply dismissed as a viable option.
As luck would have it, a women's college, Converse College, extended Jordy an invitation to tour the college when she received Converse's Junior Scholar Award. Knowing nothing about the college, she was excited when her mom told her that the college had an excellent biology program, plus an NCAA lacrosse team. But when Jordy learned that Converse was a women's college, she said, "No way!"
Fortunately for Jordy, her mother was able to convince her to accept the invitation and visit the campus. The morning she and her mom were to visit Converse, a reluctant Jordy half-heartedly prepared for her campus visit, totally convinced this was a big waste of time. With so many other colleges she wanted to visit, why she was even going?
Upon her arrival, she was "blown away by the amazing campus, professors, and biology program." And everyone she met seemed to know about her interest in sharks and lacrosse, including the president of the college, Elizabeth Fleming, PhD.
I remember how hospitable Converse faculty and staff were, and how the college went above and beyond for my visit. Delicious and special food made to order, gorgeous setting, and professors who sat at every table that fit your interests to engage in a wonderful conversation with you. I had never had such a welcoming experience before, where everyone was delighted to know your quality, not just quantity.
Because her campus visit went well, Jordy was warming up to the idea of attending a women's college. But she wanted to learn more about Converse and decided that an overnight stay would be a good idea. The college paired Jordy up with a lacrosse player, and she found the freedom she had never experienced before:
Once I stayed, I realized the fun of being at all women's college where it always felt like one never-ending sleepover. Going out in public in pajamas was acceptable, going to get food at 2 a.m. with my hair a mess felt great. I didn't need any boys around to impress or show off to.
You see, when Jordy was in high school, she remembers her daily grind:
I would wake up every day hours before school to get ready; I would force myself to become part of the arbitrary archetypes that were publically acceptable in high school, just to 'fit in'.
It was hard for Jordy to image how a single-sex environment can feel so empowering and this is why she encourages girls looking into colleges to consider colleges for women. Identify the colleges that have programs of interest, and then visit the campus. "Once you visit, you may just change your mind and never want to leave . . . I did."
Coming to Converse has made it a wonderful and memorable college experience that has enabled me to not only pursue my dreams of being a shark biologist, but it has also crafted my career into a bright one and has given me the appropriate contacts and abilities to achieve my future goals. I would not have chosen another college and Converse has been wonderful. . . . At Converse, you make a statement for yourself. You alone can raise hell and change the world (so to speak) and at Converse, you define yourself. Others do not define you. I wish I knew this information and realized this much earlier in life.
Graduating in May, Jordy will soon be leaving Converse, on to bigger and brighter opportunities as she pursues her passion. I'm thrilled to share with you that Jordy was recently accepted into the graduate program for Marine biology at the College of Charleston where she will study sharks.