Office Hours: Taylor Allie
Taylor Allie @BloomWithTaylor
Clinical Mental Health Counseling M.S. Student at Johns Hopkins University
What inspired you to attend grad school?
About one year into my undergraduate career, I realized that education is one of the foundational sources of true liberation for myself and my people. I decided then that I would take my specific set of gifts and skillsets and learn to hone them in a way that can be used to serve marginalized and underrepresented people.
Tell me about your proudest grad school moment. Why was it special for you?
My proudest grad school moment was being affirmed by my peers in my cohort following a presentation that I gave on the lack of interventions available for black people and the work we can do as clinicians to close that gap. This was incredibly special for me because it was my first time experiencing full realization of the fact that there are people who are in full support of my mission, it was my introduction to the importance of community.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten while in grad school?
One of my favorite professors of color, who also happens to be my advisor, said to me in my first semester of my graduate program that “the end goal is not to graduate, it is to feed the whole, so take everything that you gain here and mold it to fit your mission.” It has stuck with me ever since.
If you had to describe your Black grad experience with one song, which one would it be, and why?
It would definitely be "Alright" by Kendrick Lamar off of the To Pimp A Butterfly album. It is a reminder to myself that, even when I want to quit, I’ll be alright and so will the people that I am working to help come into bloom. There is some bullshit along the way, but we hold each other up.
What has been your biggest obstacle in grad school? What strategies have you used to try to overcome it?
I would say that my biggest obstacle in grad school has been having minimal resources to use for my research efforts due to the lack of literature and focus on people of color. I have had to get creative more often than not when writing papers, working on projects, and curating presentations, and my main way of doing so has been reaching out across my network. From peers at school, to friends that I know who may have done papers, or even blogs by people of color that speak to what I am trying to highlight, I dig my way through what’s out there in order to arrive at a point that works for what I am trying to achieve.
What has this experience (pursuing a graduate degree) taught you about yourself?
If nothing else, pursuing a graduate degree has taught me that I can never “make it” without making a way for others. Arriving at a school like Johns Hopkins is an amazing step, against the offs, but it is not the final step. The goal is to be a resource for others pursuing similar feats so that academic gatekeepers can no longer count my people out.
If you could go back to the first day of grad school, what advice would you give to yourself? Why?
It’s simple, but if I could go back to the first day of grad school, I would just tell myself that I am right on time. I took a year off in between my undergraduate degree and pursuing my master’s and I was somewhat insecure about it, especially since I could only afford to move through the program at a part-time pace, but I have come to understand that timing is an unnecessary pressure. I am always right on time.
How do you think your identities have informed your graduate experience?
As a self-identified black woman that is also a first generation graduation student, I have had my share of obstacles. Microagressions surrounding my level of skill, being overlooked in areas that I have a lot to offer, and being asked to shrink myself for the comfort of others are things that have happened to me on multiple occasions, and I am aware of how my black womanness plays a part in that. However, I do not rest on the negative, instead I have used the presumed image that others have of me and women like me to navigate and inform my graduate experience which has encouraged me to actively pursue any space I see fit without seeking permission from anyone.
How do you intend to use your degree in the future?
I intend to cultivate a communal space for people of color to practice and explore positive mental health, as well as to release and unlearn maleficent behaviors that affect their mental health in a negative way. By working to use my degree/knowledge of the clinical mental health field in the future in this way, I can provide resources to a deserving community of people that can help further establish an ecosystem rooted in wellness and collective consciousness that pushes the culture forward.
What’s something that you would tell someone who is interested in pursuing a similar path?
Something that I would tell anyone interested in pursuing a similar path for graduate school is to understand their intention for the use of their education before anything else. The work that comes with it will not be easy, but sticking to intention should be enough to propel you forward.
Feel free to reach out to Taylor: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow her on Twitter: @bloomwithtaylor and @well_wildflower