When Taylor Kawazoe (Class of 2019) first enrolled at Visions In Education, she didn’t know that her education would help lead her to travel halfway around the world.
“My mom wanted to be able to focus on me and my siblings’ individual needs and strengths,” says Taylor. “I had my own curriculum to fit my needs.”
Taylor always knew she wanted to go to college and travel, but didn’t know how she’d get there. However, she was determined to succeed and with the help of her family and her teacher, she was able to get a taste of college while in high school.
“I was able to take community college classes and my mom had me focus on flexibility. I figured out how I work best, utilize resources around me, and keep track of my responsibilities.”
With time Taylor started developing her interests and applied for college when her plans took a turn.
“I applied to 20 colleges and got to visit some schools… but decided to instead go to community college. If I spent a year there I could get into [a four year university] more easily. ”
The decision paid off, Taylor finished her year at Solano Community College, earning scholarships to transfer to UC Davis. But moving and starting a new school in the middle of the pandemic had its challenges.
“It was definitely a transition starting Davis online in the pandemic.”
Thankfully Taylor was already used to independent learning while at Visions, she had the skills to handle UC Davis’ tight schedule, and move to Davis for her senior year.
“I was a little surprised by how big the campus was, learning how to navigate the campus and get to my classes. We still had to wear masks and do COVID testing.”
Fast forward, Taylor graduated Davis with a bachelor’s degree in managerial economics. But there was still something she wanted to accomplish- travel and go to grad school. Cost however, was an issue. Taylor was worried about how she could afford to continue her education, but Taylor learned she had a support system who would help her find a way.
“I was surprised by how many people in my circle wanted to help me. The academic advisors send lots of resources, and UC Davis posts lots of information on aid.”
That led to Taylor applying for and receiving the Benjamin Gilman Award, which helped pay for her to study abroad in Scotland this summer. It was an experience Taylor says changed her outlook.
“I saw how big, yet small the world is… I was able to feel how similar and different it was compared to what I knew, but also felt struck by how different people, buildings were.”
So what’s next for Taylor? She’s now back at UC Davis, in the Agricultural and Resource Economics graduate program. Taylor hopes to inspire other Visions students to chase their dreams, telling students not to worry about following one straight path for education and to lean on their support system.
“College doesn’t look the same for everyone, I didn’t go straight to a four year university… ask for help and don’t neglect your support system. Most people want to help you. They’ll help you get to where you want to be.”