October 10, 2012 | By: Carol Lea Spence
LEXINGTON, KY.

About a month after Taylor Amerman began her graduate studies at the University of Nottingham, the British school nominated her to carry the torch for the kickoff of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Some might say she was at the right place at the right time, but if she was, was it luck or hard work and initiative that placed her there?

In Amerman’s case, it was probably a little of the former and a whole lot of the latter, which was the message she recently brought to students in two University of Kentucky College of Agriculture courses.

A 2011 UK graduate with a bachelor of science degree in accounting and a minor in community and leadership development, Amerman kept her GPA up, played on the UK women’s lacrosse team for four years, and had a history of community involvement. Amerman received her master’s degree this year from the University of Nottingham in corporate social responsibility.

Grace Gorrell, one of her UK instructors in community and leadership development, remembers Amerman as being a “low-key leader,” a quiet student whose papers in class not only reflected her many leadership roles in organizations and in the community, but also showed a certain travel lust.

In the fall of her senior year, Amerman began applying to all “the big funding groups,” including the Fulbright International Educational Exchange Program.

“I was not successful,” she said.

She also wasn’t dissuaded and applied directly to universities in Ireland and the United Kingdom. The effort paid off; Nottingham gave her a full scholarship.

“I took advantage of every opportunity,” Amerman told Gorrell’s Leadership Studies class, which is primarily made up of juniors and seniors.

Looking back over her college career, Amerman recounted her internships and volunteer activity, which included being a Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters and interning at the YMCA and in UK community relations. As part of her work with community relations, she organized a UK faculty bus tour to Lexington nonprofit organizations to encourage working relationships. Between her junior and senior years, she interned with Brown-Forman, a Louisville-based wine and spirits business that employs more than 4,000 people worldwide. There, she worked in corporate responsibility, which piqued her interest in the field.

“I took risks. There was never anything I thought I couldn’t do. I might as well try,” she told the class. “What could happen?”

And maybe most important for the students listening to her, she emphasized that she searched out the opportunities herself.

“Take the initiative.  Help yourself,” Amerman told them.

Grace Gorrell said that’s an important lesson for her students.

“I keep telling students that if they set goals and if they try to live their lives according to their values and their mission, those things can become a reality,” she said. “Taylor is a great example of how much she has already been able to accomplish in the small amount of time since she graduated.”

Contact: 

Grace Gorrell, 859-619-7211

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