‘Helping Hands’ Lifts STUDENT’s Medical School Hopes
As graduation from Pickerington North High School neared, Pheasant Run resident Taylor Williams-Hamilton knew the end was just the beginning.
“Most of my life my family really depended on me for a lot of things. I feel like I had to grow up, quickly. Getting a job, early. Going to college is something they expected me to do and do well,” Taylor recalled.
Four years later she has done that – and then some.
A beneficiary of Homeport’s partnership with Greater Columbus Community Helping Hands, Taylor in May graduated magna cum laude from the historically black, all-women’s liberal arts Spelman College in Atlanta. She plans to enter medical school in 2018.
“I want to practice gynecology. I really think being a participant in the Helping Hands program made me realize the importance of taking care of the community, especially those who are underprivileged and underserved. I want to have my own clinic in a lower income community,” Taylor said.
Dorothy Cage-Evans, co-founder of the Helping Hands program with her husband Hank Evans, a Homeport Board of Directors member, said Taylor would be the first Homeport participant in Helping Hands to be accepted to medical school.
“Greater Columbus Community Helping Hands is grateful for our partnerships (like Homeport) which enables us to provide scholarships and support to aspiring youth, especially the underserved in our community,” Cage-Evans said. “Students are encouraged to remember their journey and to always give their 'helping hand' to others.’’
Twenty-nine Homeport residents have benefitted from the Helping Hands program since the organization connected with Homeport in 2013.
While in high school, the students receive laptop computers with Microsoft software and are schooled in “stepping off to college” skills, from learning how to keep a checkbook to the importance of networking and leadership.
Once in college, the students can seek follow up financial assistance to cover the cost of books and college fees.
Taylor said she is the first college graduate from her extended family, that getting ready for higher education was not something she was prepared for and that she grabbed on to whatever she could to learn.
“When I was getting ready to apply for college I did not know what to do. I didn’t have anyone to tell me about classes, scholarships. I was not financially literate about scholarships and grants.
“Then I took this class in financial literacy at the Pheasant Run community center taught by Homeport. And from there I hung around the office, trying to see what more I get out of this.
“The property manager at Pheasant Run told me about Helping Hands. She gave me the packet with information on what to do, but even then it was a little overwhelming. I got stressed. But I applied and took an orientation on what the program was about, the requirements to meet to get the scholarship money. The importance of giving back to the community.”
In May, Taylor’s hard work – and support from Helping Hands -- paid off.
She wore a cap and gown and graduated Spelman with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. She was magna cum laude (3.6 GPA or higher), Phi Beta Kappa and a member of Biology and Psychology Honors Societies.
She also feels she not only made good grades but a good friend in Mrs. Cage-Evans.
“She calls, ‘what do you need? How are you doing?’ Whatever I needed she made a way for me to get it. She also helped a friend from Pickerington North study abroad in Ghana, West Africa. For a semester.”
One of Taylor’s younger brothers, Brian Marshall Hamilton, attends Westminster College in Pennsylvania and has been a Helping Hands beneficiary, too.
“I kind of made him do it. You can’t pass up this opportunity,” Taylor said.
Taylor’s baby brother, Savion Marshall Hamilton, is a high school sophomore. Taylor hopes he participates in Helping Hands. But first things, first, she says. “I am trying to get him to prepare for the SAT and ACT.”