“Carpe diem. Live life to the fullest. Whatever road you choose, live it to the fullest. Take responsibility for your actions. Learn from your environment. Know yourself.”

In a New York City high school, metal detectors, daily gang fights, broken desks, mice and teachers who believed their students were delinquent, forced and reinforced realities to its students that there was no hope for a better future. But, “I knew better,” said Selina Taylor of her high school experience. With the support of her family, aunts and grandparents, Selina dreamed of something better. “There is no such thing as the American dream. It’s what you make of it. It’s up to you.” Since high school, Selina has made the most of every opportunity given to her, even when it hasn’t been easy.

Selina wanted to go to a historically Black college or university, but somehow found her name on the list to participate in the Discover UNH Program as a high school senior. Looking for a setting that she would feel comfortable in, UNH on paper was a stark contrast to that. Surprisingly, UNH was not what she expected. When she visited, her host was student, Renai Mason, from the Bronx, living in a community specifically themed for multiculturalism. She saw a performance by Sisters in Step. UNH had all of the components she was looking for—a social atmosphere, a commitment to diversity and students she could identify with. When she was accepted, she was overjoyed!

Selina was on her road to being the first person in her immediate family to go to college out of state, and the first to actually consider finishing a degree. Influenced by her passion around several issues, Selina quickly got involved in a number of different organizations and events. She was involved in Black Student Union and Students Advocating for Gender Equality. She was in the cast of Vagina Monologues and the “Rainbow Play.” She worked two jobs and volunteered at a local elementary school. However, Selina quickly found that time management was a concern. At the end of her first year, she found herself still unadjusted with grades far lower than anything she had ever gotten before.

Selina reflected and refocused. She devoted her sophomore year to her academics. She cut back on other involvements, but soon realized another obstacle. Selina began to notice that she was the only person of color in a class of 250 students and the “only-ness” became overwhelming. Her involvements became obligations and she felt lost. In an attempt to re-center herself, Selina joined Chi Alpha Campus Ministry, where she met other students who were grounded in their faith as Christians. It helped her see that she was not alone.

With her faith, she was able to let go of all the things she felt were holding her back. Selina was determined to embrace the challenges and the hardships. She declared a double major in Psychology and International Affairs, with a minor in French. She was interested in knowing how the mind and body worked, what aspects in the environment impact behavior and how change is made in everyday behavior. She also loved that
International Affairs explored the cultures and countries outside the U.S.

Despite the many obstacles, Selina has found success at UNH. She was challenged and motivated in Dr. Richard Kushner’s
Psychology 401 class and Dr. Mark Henn’s Psychology 722 class. Both professors presented opposite ideas and perspectives challenging Selina to make up her own mind about what she believed. Barbara Cooper’s French 525 class helped teach Selina a respect for other cultures and an understanding of differences. Her classes and her experiences have not only taught her valuable life lessons, but also helped prepare her for her next step, whatever that maybe. She is driven and motivated, continually working to find the silver lining while making the most of her time at UNH.

Of her experience here at UNH, Selina says, “UNH hasn’t been perfect. I’m not going to say that it was my ideal experience. Yes, I didn’t like this school for a bit, but I learned to embrace the challenges. Instead of talking about it, I worked to do something about it….The future is still unclear but I know I want to make a difference and work with a community who needs help. I want to engage and be part of
their community.”

Selina says that she’s an average student, although her experience might say otherwise. However, she wants students to know that you don’t have to be a prodigy child to make a difference.

2013-2014 Honorees
2013 - 2014 CYOS Honorees: seated Zak Ahmad-Kahloon, Emily Dickman, Nyomi Guzman, Annie Crossman, standing Lauren McCandless, Kathryn Sattora, Timothy Marquis, Sid Nigam, Evan Beals, Peter Wilkinson
“Students are the focus of everything we do.”

Dept of Residential Life
13A Hitchcock Hall, 5 Quad Way-UNH
Durham, NH 03824
last updated 04/28/2014
Need More Information?
Ruth Abelmann, Associate Director
Department of Residential Life
University of New Hampshire
Phone (603) 862-2268