McDonogh 35 senior Torrance Taylor defines determination

McDonogh 35 senior Torrance Taylor defines determination
Posted on 03/26/2021

Taylor is completing her senior year while pursuing her BSN

There are students who are motivated and dedicated, and then there is McDonogh 35 senior Torrance Taylor.

Not only is Torrance finishing her last year of high school, she also a certified clinical medical assistant through the National Healthcareer Association, and is pursuing her bachelor of science degree in nursing at Chamberlain University’s College of Nursing. When she graduates McDonogh 35 in May, she will also be starting her fifth college class. 

“For the first half of the year, I was juggling three schools,” Torrance said. “It’s a lot of studying, but I got used to it.”

Balancing multiple schools is not new to Torrance. As a junior, Torrance was a dual enrollment student at New Orleans Career Center (NOCC), where she was pursuing her medical assistant certification. She attended McDonogh 35 in the morning and NOCC in the afternoon. 

Torrance in scrubsIn July 2020, Torrance was one of six high school students selected for the opportunity to participate in Chamberlain’s nursing degree program, which allows exceptional high school seniors to get a head start on their degree by taking college courses before they graduate and officially enroll at the college. 

“When I found out about the program at Chamberlain, I wanted to enroll,” said Torrance, whose goal is to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. “I know the faster I get my education completed, the sooner I start my life. With this fast-track program, I can get my Ph.D. and be a nurse practitioner by the time I’m 24.” 

When Torrance approached her family about starting college early, her mother, Courtney Taylor, admitted she had some concerns.

“When she first told me she wanted to do all of this, I was like, ‘Torrance, are you sure? You already juggle a whole lot.’ She told me she was going to find a way to fit it all in,” Taylor said. “And she has. She’s dedicated and driven. I support her 100 percent.”

Taylor in Majorette costumeOne of the concerns her mom had was that Torrance would miss out on activities during her senior year of high school. Torrance holds the record for being the longest standing Majorette at McDonogh 35, where she’s been on the team since she was four years old. She also holds the position of sergeant at arms for McDonogh 35’s National Honor Society chapter and participated in choir, was a member of the Links mentor group, and regularly volunteered in the community.

Torrance said she was willing to make the sacrifice now for a head start on her career. 

“If I complete my education early and get it out of the way, then later on I can enjoy my life,” she said.

Taylor says Torrance is well beyond her years.

“She’s a well-rounded person. She’s not the average young teenager. She’s mature for her age,” she said, adding that some of Torrance’s college classmates were surprised to find out how young Torrance was when they met in person for labs. “They were so impressed with the way she thinks and that she demonstrates a wisdom beyond her years.”

Torrance said her classmates and faculty at Chamberlain feel like family ¬—just like those at McDonogh 35.

“Chamberlain’s motto is everyone is family,” she said. “When we went to the college for labs, we were all bonding. We were all joking and having fun like one big family. It felt like home. I was comfortable.” 

Taylor said she had seen a similar reaction in Torrance before.

“When she came home from Chamberlain that day, she had the same blush and excitement she had about enrolling 35,” she said, adding that Torrance has been part of 35 since 2006 when Taylor, who is now the Parent Liaison, started working there. “She grew up with so many of the staff at 35 that is her family. She calls them all her aunts, uncles, and grandparents. I think that’s what drew her to 35. That’s what draws everyone to 35. When you walk into this building, we welcome you. This is your home. When she was looking at college, that’s what she was looking for.”

Along with the feeling of belonging, Torrance said one of the appealing aspects of Chamberlain is that the courses are offered in eight-week sessions, allowing her to focus on one at a time. She’s currently on her fourth class.

“So far, I’ve taken an intro to nursing class, algebra, anatomy and physiology, and I’m currently taken anatomy and physiology II,” she said. “I’ll be starting an English class next in May.”

Taylor attributes that to Torrance’s extended support system that helped instill the drive and dedication in her.

“It takes a village to raise a child. It wasn’t just me and my husband and our family. It was a village of people that helped us with Torrance. It was also McDonogh 35 teachers and faculty and staff that helped mold her.”

Torrance also remains in touch with her mentor, President and Chief Executive Officer of New Orleans East Hospital, Dr. Takeisha Davis, who continues to offer her support and encouragement.

“I have had the extreme pleasure of serving as Torrance’s mentor since August 2018 through the Pontchartrain Chapter (LA) of the Links, Incorporated’s Rising Star Program,” Davis said. “I have found Torrance to be a highly-motivated, well-rounded, academically superior student. She flawlessly balances her professional aspirations with her extracurricular activities. I am so proud of the peer leadership that Torrance displays and the poise and respect she demonstrates.” 

Torrance at NHS inductionWhile Torrance may not be as active at McDonogh 35 this year as before, she says she still believes in the Maroon and Gold.

“McDonogh 35 has been great. I had a lot of fun times and memories. There were a lot of people here who shaped me. It’s like a community and a family. Everybody at that school has your best interest at heart,” she said. “I give it a 10 out of 10!”

Torrance hasn’t finalized where life will take her after McDonogh 35. She said she wants to continue at Chamberlain but is awaiting to see what offers they make. She was also accepted to and received scholarship offers from several colleges including Baylor University, University of Arkansas, LSU, Loyola, Southern Mississippi, and UNO, to name a few.

But no matter where she ultimately decides to finish her degree, there is no doubt Torrance has a bright future ahead of her.

“I know that her leadership, collaborative spirit, and pursuit of academic excellence will make her a tremendous asset to the healthcare profession,” Davis said. “Torrance is the true epitome of a Rising Star!”