Recent Purdue University North Central graduate Ronald Taylor aspires to be a professional writer.
The Liberal Studies major explains, “My interest is in literary journalism and fiction. I want to use my writing to illuminate and explore the world.”
A gifted writer, Taylor was drawn to courses that would broaden his knowledge, polish his writing style and challenge him intellectually.
“My creative writing courses were really enriching. Things came into focus when I realized I was spending just about all of my free time working on projects for those classes, purely because I enjoy telling stories so much. The encouragement I got from the instructors in those classes really bolstered my confidence about by writing,” he explained.
Taylor enjoyed his time in the classroom. He took classes that stretched his mind and required him to look at the world from different angles.
“I really enjoyed my Great Issues course. It’s essentially a class about everything. It was one of the first places where I could actually apply the miscellaneous knowledge that rattled around in my head. It covered the history of western thought on just about every subject imaginable – politics, science, art. . . It went through both the broad strokes of history and the painstaking details of different schools of thought in primary source documents. It’s a transformative intellectual experience. Opinions can play a big role, but you have to be able to support your views with solid reasoning and precise knowledge of the material.”
His writing reflects his eclectic interests and his reasoned approach to the world.
During Taylor’s senior year, Purdue North Central launched an online news source, the Panther News Network, and he was one of the first students hired.
“I was lucky to have the opportunity to help build the news website from the ground up,” he said. “I dabbled in pretty much everything. The PNC Department of student activities was tremendously supportive and gave us a blank check for our creative visions. To someone like me, that’s priceless.”
While he did a lot of behind-the-scenes work on the news site, he was regularly found at campus events, taking photographs, shooting video and reporting. His work was featured throughout the site.
“My main focus was on my writing,” he admitted. “I read a tremendous amount of online journalism, so it was something that I think I have an eye for. I worked to create thought-provoking content relevant beyond the PNC campus to bring together both local and far-reaching stories in a feature journalistic format.”
A talented artist, he would often draw illustrations and graphics to accompany his articles.
Taylor was never at a loss for ideas to pursue and he made sure he never let an opportunity pass by.
“A college campus offers a great opportunity. You’ve got disparate professional areas and fields of knowledge located in one place. I could, for example, write a story about an upcoming faculty presentation, then use that as a springboard to delve deeper into the subject discussed in the presentation. At the same time, I could work on projects like a review of a favorite TV series or a report on a local bird migration. For a generalist like me, it was a terrific opportunity.”
He was involved in other campus activities as a member of the Dean’s Leadership Group and the Chancellor’s Leadership Seminar.
His off campus activities reflect his wide-ranging interests. He volunteered at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts, the Washington Park Zoo, the Michigan City Parks Department and the Puppet Parlor Theater.
He serves as a guest engagement ambassador at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, presenting educational content to guests. Stationed at carts scattered throughout the zoo, Taylor presents a variety of information to curious children and adults.
“We focus on subjects such as the differences between horns and antlers. Then we get to show – and let people touch –examples of each. It’s extremely rewarding and fun,” said Taylor. “I answer a lot of general questions about the animals and the exhibits.”
While his work at the zoo may seem like a departure from the humanities coursework he enjoyed at PNC, he sees “a fundamental, underlying unity to it all.”
“I find natural history endlessly fascinating. Most of my writing for the classroom and PNN focused on nature and science.
Seemingly disparate disciplines like biology and philosophy can edify each other and contribute to grand, exciting insights into the nature of things. I can’t count how many times I would, for example, invoke the chimpanzee social structures I observed at the zoo in the context of a classroom discussion about human society.”