Patricia Taylor, associate professor of education, shared her career journey via the concept of planting seeds on Tuesday at her talk, titled “With Seeds in My Hair: The Journey, the Destination, and Steps Along the Way,” via Zoom.
Taylor’s talk was attended by 43 faculty, staff and students and served as her last lecture, as she will retire at the end of this academic year. Taylor spent 31 years at the University of La Verne. Throughout her time at the University, she served as program chairperson for special education programs, a member of the campus ministry, an advisor on the American With Disabilities Act Task Force, an assembly chairperson, a representative to the board of trustees and was the founder and co-director of the Center for Neurodiversity, Learning, and Wellness.
Taylor began her lecture by explaining the etymology of the word lecture, which she said first meant to write, then to read what was written, then to scold.
“I’m not going to do any scolding today, I’m going to do some planting. This in fact will be my last planting,” Taylor said.
Throughout the talk she reflected back on her ancestry, 60% of it being from Africa. She attributes her resilience and strength to her ancestry.
Taylor explained the title of her talk, linking it back to her ancestry. She said that when Africans knew they were coming to be enslaved they would braid rice in their hair for currency.
“The seeds that I’m mostly interested in this planting are the ones that are invisible,” Taylor said. “Thinking about what in me is deeply held, deeply understood; cellular if you will, soulful if you will.”
Taylor talked about one of her mentors Micheal Meade’s Throw Yourself Like Seed, and so she took his advice.
“I took all of my seeds and I just threw them out and they germinated in this place or that place. Sometimes I had to do extra special nurturing to get it to work out,” Taylor said.
“My ancestors told me to plant those seeds and so I planted them in thinking about kids that were struggling, graduate students that were struggling, graduate students who were getting thrown out of classes because they were too loud or they were not cooperative” Taylor said. “I planted myself there and I found meaning in being there for me and being there for them.”
Taylor talked about the various seeds she planted in her journey. She said she planted four seeds in total: the acorn, rice, mustard and willow seeds. The acorn seed helps her realize hidden potential, rice seed reminds her to never close off tears, mustard seed reminds her to be compassionate and the willow seed to remind her to move out of the way.
“No matter how difficult the journey, the seeds I bring must be planted and given a chance to grow and thrive,” Taylor said.
Taylor ended with a quote from Harriet Tubman’s where on her deathbed she stated: “I go to prepare a place for you.” Taylor paired the quote with the music video “Stand Up” from the Harriet Tubman biopic.
“I’m going to prepare a place for the folks who are coming behind. I’m vacating that area to let it be filled by others and to welcome them to tell their stories and plant their seeds,” Taylor said.
Shelley Urbizagestegui, librarian of research and instruction, said she has worked with Taylor throughout the years.
“She is one of the most caring, sincere people I ever met,” Urbizagastegui said. “I wish everyone had the empathy she had.”
“It was excellent and a breath of fresh air,” Rick Hasse, instructor of accounting and finance, said. “She has a great heart and cares about the students.”
Al Clark, professor of humanities, said that it was clear that Taylor’s priority was her students.
“You could tell how genuine in people she is,” Clark said.
Jonathan Garcia can be reached at email@example.com.