Taylor Howell

Hometown: Fayetteville, GA

high school: Sandy Creek High School

college: Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

MAJOR: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

To learn the most about avid reader and academic enthusiast Taylor Howell, the inside of her tote bag is an excellent resource. In it, she always carries among other articles a case of pencils, her most recent nonfiction novel, three different calculators, a tube of eco-friendly hand sanitizer, her journal, and an arbitrarily prepared, usually dysfunctional snack. Cerebral by nature, Taylor constantly researches new problems and seeks alternatives, necessitating the accessibility of each of those items.

Since the days of mastering the “Mad Minute” challenges in fifth grade, Taylor has developed a keen adoration of mathematics for its mysterious beauty and utility in spite of its unpopularity. Twice, she has broken her high school’s record in its annual contest for most-digits-recited of the irrational number pi, and she seeks to break her own record of nearly one thousand digits again. She is an active member of Math Team. In October 2014, Taylor organized and hosted a school-wide math tournament, “The Number Games,” designed to heighten student interest in the study and applications of mathematics. Parodied after the popular Hunger Games series, the tournament comprised physical challenges and knowledge questions, both of which tested students’ critical thinking and creative resolution abilities given various scenarios. For admission, participants each donated at least one non-perishable food item; proceeds were then donated to the local RealLife Center food pantry. Taylor feels an obligation to advocate the importance of mathematics to her peers and plans to extend similar events to wider audiences.

Despite having taken Spanish classes since sixth grade, Taylor mainly ascribes her acquired fluency in the language to watching episodes of Dora the Explorer and George Lopez. She regularly attends foreign language conferences to employ what she has learned. At age ten, Taylor became interested in video editing when she discovered the Movie Maker software on her family’s computer. Having self-taught to use the various tools, the pastime became a passion. She has learned to efficiently synch moving footage to music as well as how to clone herself in live-action sketches, even fashioning a makeshift blue screen out of the walls of her room. Taylor has taken up violin as a form of therapy as well as another application of mathematics.

Besides a curiosity and a clear passion, Taylor attributes her academic excellence to a tremendous support system. Her parents, Millette and Reginald Howell, offer daily, sometimes hourly positive reinforcement as she endures challenges as a young African American woman in STEM. After high school, Taylor plans to pursue a degree in chemical engineering, so that she may invent new products and processes to improve the health of the environment. Having conducted research during high school on several ecologically conscious topics, she plans to further investigate her findings on an industrial scale. Above all, however, Taylor takes an active role in pursuing happiness. She says, “Happiness is a choice, and it is essential to leading a fulfilling life as well as extending that opportunity to others.”

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