Marquita Taylor ’09, PhD, had to fight to make room for herself. Now, she fights to make room for others.
Taylor is the assistant director of health equity and leadership programs housed at the Yale School of Public Health, where she works to create spaces and shape policies to advance diversity, equity and inclusion across all corners of the Ivy League institution and in the New Haven community.
After completing her bachelor’s degree in business at Alverno and learning to be a servant leader, Taylor felt called to serve her community and help foster real change. After completing her doctorate, she sought an opportunity to “make change in the space,” and she saw the right opportunity at Yale.
“I wanted to help shape lives and to chip away at systems that weren’t created to help Black and Brown people prosper,” she says. “It’s important to me that I do work that is providing access to opportunities and always addresses oppression.”
With her current role, she has pushed for equitable inclusion and consideration of students in grant, fellowship and internship processes. She has also established transformational experiential learning opportunities for students of color.
The work she does has been fulfilling for her as she gets to be “that beacon of hope or light so that there isn’t this ceiling,” says Taylor. “Just being a presence here ― being a young Black woman in a leadership position role ― speaks volumes to the students and the parents who I get to interact with who look like me.”
Being an ally for her students can be simply showing up, whether it’s talking about their mental health or shopping for whiteboards as they prepare for graduate school entrance exams. No matter the day or time, she makes room for students to help them navigate every part of their college career.
Taylor is also a change agent locally and nationally. She has led both the work and declaration of racism as a public health crisis in New Haven, Conn., and the establishment of a minority mental health day there. She contributes to the research and formation of policies around health equity in health care, housing and education in the state of Connecticut.
Although Taylor is proud to represent students and her community, she acknowledges there are challenges.
“I deal with the same racial issues as students, in addition to gender pay issues,” she says, adding that she has encountered people who do not fully credit or value her education and experience because of her youth.
However, she always remembers the “why” behind her work: “I started because I knew there was a lack of women and Black and Brown people in leadership at institutions like mine that weren’t built for Black and Brown people. I do it for my students, community and city.”
Climbing high, together
While completing her doctoral studies, Marquita Taylor ’09, PhD, founded an organization called The Woman Doctor to help other women advance their educational ambitions.
“I did not feel supported during my doctoral studies and did not have access to women who looked like me who had completed the process. I wanted to change that for Black and Brown women,” she says. “So I created a network for support where I engage women from across the country in mentoring, retreats and writing assistance.”
Visit The Woman Doctor site to learn more.
This article appears in the summer 2022 issue of Alverno Magazine.