That Guy: Matt Taylor

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September 21, 2007

4:22 AM

People who had Matt Taylor as their RA freshman year often referred to him as a beautiful Greek god. When I met him for the first time, I realized why. His long, brown curly locks, poised and defined stature and beautiful green eyes certainly resembled images from Greek mythology. But aside from his striking looks, Matt is passionate, reflective and incredibly dedicated to the College community. He is probably one of the most recognizable names and faces on this campus and involved in more activities than I can list. The majority of our interview on the University Center and terrace was interrupted with students stopping by to say hello. It’s strange to think that Matt wasn’t always as comfortable in his own skin as he is now. And that, even today, his biggest fear is rejection.

p. **Tell me about the CEO program and your involvement with that.**

p. Absolutely. CEO stands for Center for Educational Opportunities and it was an alternative education program for local students who were expelled or suspended for large periods of time. The program mainly worked with 45 to 90 middle school and high-school-aged students. Last semester, the superintendent announced that he had made a decision to cut the program from its former incarnation (which made it into a four-hour night program). The students and community at large rallied and advocated together on behalf of the students to save it as a full-time program. After advocating to the School Board, city council members and James City supervisors, we were able to essentially save and reform it into a seven-hour day program which is now under the new name of “Academy for Life and Learning.” It has a new director who is actively seeking input from the community to make it into the best program it can be for students. I am currently a member of a cooperative independent study with about six to seven William and Mary students reviewing alternative education best practices. We are working with the school board and the director of the program to see to it that some of our recommendations are adopted.

p. **How did you initially find out about these efforts?**

p. I have a large interest in education policy. I’m a government major, but my focus is in education. I was enrolled in an interdisciplinary studies class entitled Impacts of the Social System on Education last year. It was a service learning course and about 60 percent of the class involved tutoring at a school. I had no idea what to expect. The first day of class we took a field trip out there. I knew that we would be tutoring, but I didn’t know that it would be with population of students that it was. Visiting this program and discovering what we’d be working with was daunting to say the least.

p. **You spent your summer working for the National Assembly for Wales. What did the position entail?**

p. My summer abroad consisted mainly of drinking lots of wine and champagne during office hours — sometimes with the shadow minister for whom I was working, other times while representing his office at lobbying events. I also proofread a lecture that the minister is delivering at Cambridge and fostered great friendships in the workplace. I completed a fair amount of policy briefs, wrote press releases and did a lot of shameless self-promotion. To be honest, however, I did a lot of things that aren’t actually as impressive as they sound. In fact, I just took the job to make people think I’m more important that I really am [laughs].

p. **If you could repeat one day at the College, which would it be and why?**

p. I would have to pick Day for Admitted Students. I didn’t have a host so I was just walking around campus. I ran into some cheerleaders and they tried to convince me to join the team. During our discussion, they found out that I had no one to stay with. They committed me to staying with Dan Horgan, referred to at the time as “Drunk Dan.” The cheerleaders came that afternoon and picked me up from my hotel. We went to a luau in the Sunken Gardens, a soccer game, a Kappa date party, an off-campus party and finally finished up the night at Phi Tau. At least that was the last place I was supposed to go. To this day, it was my most wild day at WM. Debauchery ensued.

p. **What other crazy things have you done here?**

p. All right, rewind back to my freshman year. It was the night before the last final and there were 22 of us left in Hunt. It was 18 degrees outside, by far the coldest weather I had ever been in before. We were sitting in the dorm and I couldn’t help but think: How can I take advantage of this experience? It dawned on me to streak. Everyone from Hunt went out together and we streaked the Sunken Gardens in the bitter cold weather. Three people ended up vomiting the rest of the night because the air was so cold and they couldn’t handle the air in their lungs. I think a couple of guys ended up with pneumonia. But I came out strong.

p. **What were you like when you were younger?**
Growing up, I was extremely shy, and surprisingly, I’m still a closet introvert. I had, and still kind of do have, a massive fear of rejection. I think it stems from being the fat kid growing up. When I was in sixth grade I weighed what I weigh now, but I was eight inches shorter. I was also the new kid — I had just moved to Houston. Kids aren’t nice at that age, especially when your name rhymes with “fat.” Those were the awkward years of my life.
You, shy? I don’t believe it.

p. Yes, I was really shy. In kindergarten, I participated in the science fair. All of the students were sitting in the waiting room and we would be called into the cafeteria one row of projects at a time. That way, when a judge came by, we would be at our project waiting. I was at my project waiting for the judge and realized I badly had to go to the bathroom but I was too shy to ask if I could leave my project and didn’t want the judge to pass me by. I peed my pants, and the judge had to hold a simple conversation with me about my board while I stood there with a huge pee stain all over my pants. I was wearing green sweatpants, I still remember. It wasn’t that embarrassing at the time but, in retrospect, it was pretty bad. It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Would I do it again? I won’t say that I wouldn’t … maybe during a job interview, we’ll see.

p. **What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you on campus?**

p. It is so hard to think of just one. I am truly so blessed. When I was a sophomore, I was an RA for Taliaferro, and at the time, my parents were living in Houston. It was days after Katrina slammed New Orleans and Hurricane Rita was a category 5 hurricane, barreling literally straight towards our home and I was pretty shaken up. All my residents gave me a huge card saying that I was in their prayers and it was just so nice because it’s hard to be so far away from home and I didn’t feel like I had anyone to whom I could relate.

p. **If you had a word of advice to impart upon underclassmen, what would it be?**

p. Get as actively involved in as many things as you possibly can. Then, dedicate yourself to as many of those as you can, because the more dedicated I’ve been, the more I’ve gotten out of those activities. I’ve gotten so much out of so many different things. We’re only here for such a short period of time. After this place, there’s never going to be another place where you are surrounded by such incredible people and an open minded, comfortable environment.

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