When it comes to Missouri Western State University, Taylor Edwards ’23 exemplifies the continuance of a legacy. Taylor, her mom, dad and grandma all graduated from Missouri Western.
Her parents and grandmother all attended Missouri Western at the same time. Her grandmother was a non-traditional student and had moved herself and Taylor’s dad to St. Joseph to study at Missouri Western. Her grandma studied history, her dad music education, and her mom elementary education.
Taylor explained that Missouri Western means tradition to her family. “Having all four of us be Griffons has been pretty special in the sense that I can really bond with my parents over the experiences that they had,” Taylor said. “To always have the connection to my parents in everything that I do is really special. My dad and I will participate in the alumni marching band this upcoming year together, and that will be super awesome and super special.”
Being a legacy student gave Taylor the ability to connect with her parents on a deeper level and use them as a guiding force in her college career. “Being a legacy student, my goal for coming to Missouri Western was really to create my own path,” she explained. “But I was also able to use my parents and their experiences to kind of shape my path.” Taylor wasn’t always convinced that Missouri Western was where she would go. She was hesitant to be a legacy student because she wanted to be sure she could forge her own path without falling into her family’s shadow. Taylor was afraid it would take away from becoming her own independent person.
However, with all the opportunities that Missouri Western had to offer, and the affordability, which allowed her to graduate with minimal debt, she gained so much from carrying on the Missouri Western family legacy. “I think that they knew that I would always come here – I think I knew that I would always come here; I just didn’t want to admit it because I really wanted to be independent and be my own person. But I was independent, and I did my own thing here.”
She came to Missouri Western with dreams of becoming a music teacher, and this past spring, her dreams became reality. Taylor graduated in May 2023 with degrees in instrumental music education and music performance. The moment Taylor stepped into a classroom for the first time not as a student, but as a teacher assistant, she immediately knew she had chosen the right field.
She was teaching her students “how to love music not just play music.” She revealed, “I knew I always wanted to be a teacher. Both my parents are teachers so that’s kind of the world I grew up in.”
On campus, Taylor was heavily involved. True to her passion for music, Taylor was in the Golden Griffon Marching Band, was a drum major her senior year, and was a part of the jazz, wind, and chamber ensembles. Taylor was a member of Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity and the National Association for Music Education Collegiate Chapter. She was also part of the Missouri National Educators Association – Aspiring Educators, serving as the Missouri state president and on the board of directors. Outside of music, she was a student ambassador, Griffon Orientation leader, and a Griffon Experience leader all within The Office of Admissions, and she also worked as a resident assistant in Scanlon and Vartabedian Halls.
When asked what she liked to do outside of her busy school schedule she said, “Not a lot,” and laughed. “Everything I do is fun, so participating in school is always fun for me. It can be stressful, but I’ve always loved school – especially my extracurriculars. I’m always doing something that I love doing and something that is fun for me and passionate for me. So, it doesn’t really seem like the things that I do for school are work; it’s always just been fun. The past four years were so, so awesome.”
Taylor has accepted a position at Leavenworth Intermediate School teaching 5th- and 6th-grade instrumental music and general music. She will also assist with the Leavenworth High School marching band. Taylor hopes to continue doing things she loves to do in new capacities.
“Missouri Western was probably the best choice for me in preparing for my career. They have us in the classroom as early as our sophomore year. So, I was already experiencing what it’s like to be a music teacher in my sophomore year. Then every year after that you have a classroom experience. The applied learning, the hands-on learning, that Missouri Western offers gave me the highest chance at success for being a teacher I think.” She continued, “Besides that, our professors are so awesome in the music department. Just sitting and talking to them, you learn that they are some of the most experienced and the best people on their instruments and just in the field, in the world. Missouri Western was pretty epic for that stuff.”
One professor in particular, Dr. Lee Harrelson, left a lasting impact on Taylor. Dr. Harrelson was her advisor, private instructor, and professor for her ensemble classes. She said he helped her gain experience that would “copy and paste” into her professional life. It was also because of Dr. Harrelson that she joined the Fountain City
Youth Brass Academy which led her to be the United States representative at the World Youth Brass Band in Kerkrade, Netherlands, in the summer of 2022.
Taylor embodies what it means to be your own person and create your own path, while still relying on the legacy of family and their experiences to help guide the way to success. Your donations help students like Taylor carry on a family legacy and forge their own path to a brighter future.