Andaiye Taylor

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Scholars Program '97 | Newark Academy '01 | University of Pennsylvania '05 | M.S., Columbia University '12 | Founder and Editor, BrickCityLive.com and Director of Content Marketing, First Data Corporation

“New Jersey SEEDS provided me with options for my education. The Scholars Program broadened the possibilities for my four years in high school and, ultimately, enabled me to envision how those years would set me up for higher education. Having that type of latitude at such an early age proved addictive, and it taught me that putting in a lot of work upfront would leave me with more choices later on, like where to live or where – and even whether – to work at a traditional 9-to-5 job.”

From an early age, Andaiye Taylor’s mother encouraged her to pursue anything that she wanted in life – education, employment, and even relationships. “My mother always told me her greatest wish for me was not that I would make a specific choice that hewed to her vision for my life, but that I would have the option to choose what was always best for me.”

Andaiye found that SEEDS provided these educational options, and also offered opportunities for her to step outside of her social comfort zone and to develop a college mentality. “When I went to Newark Academy, a lot of people told me to prepare for the possibility that I wouldn’t keep up at first, which would have been a departure from my middle school days. I think it was helpful advice given that most of my high school peers had had an accelerated educational experience up to that point, but it turned out that I could keep up. And ultimately, I excelled.”

Andaiye credits this success to the habits of action and mind that she learned in SEEDS. “SEEDS taught me the cold arithmetic of getting greater results by putting in more time and effort. Going to school on Saturdays and in the summer enabled me to accelerate my learning and earn a top-notch secondary education. Since then, I’ve consistently returned to that principle of putting in time and work to reach a goal, and that has enhanced my career and education in ways that have paid off for me, literally. I earned my Master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University while working full time. Today, I run a hyperlocal website—also while working full-time. Though I also put an emphasis on balance, sustainability, delegation and working smart, the structure of the Scholars Program taught me the importance of developing grit to achieve a goal. It prepared me to put in the work necessary to do well in an accelerated environment. And those habits have stuck with me.

“Overall, my SEEDS experience was great. I loved the camaraderie with my fellow classmates, some of whom I’ve kept in touch with, and others of whom I’ve recently met from other classes. The boarding experience was challenging and fun. I have a lot of memories from my time with SEEDS, but two stand out. One was meeting one of the founders of The Source Magazine when he visited our SEEDS Saturday class at Pingry. The other was being introduced to alternative rock – and specifically the band Smashing Pumpkins. Until that point, I was exclusively a hip hop and R&B listener, and the classmate who introduced me to the group broadened my horizons by playing their album incessantly on the bus rides on Saturdays.”

Today, Andaiye would encourage others to apply. “SEEDS gives its students a broader set of options for what their education might look like, and takes finances off the table as a barrier. SEEDS is one of those experiences that I know for sure represents a fork in the road in my life. It was great for me, and I’m glad to see that the work continues!”