Ja’lia Taylor of Smithville, Georgia has been selected as the student marshal for the Graduate School for Auburn University’s Summer 2022 Opening Ceremony, scheduled for August 5-6 at Neville Arena.
Taylor is a doctoral candidate in the College of Education, earning her degree in Special Education with a minor in Critical Education. A first-generation student, Taylor formed the President’s Mentoring Circle, a program for minority graduate students interested in higher education leadership to receive mentorship from former Auburn president Jay Gogue and other college leaders. . She also formed Young Professionals in Training, a pipeline program providing underrepresented students access to Auburn University. The program provides mentoring and tutoring to these students. Taylor received numerous awards at Auburn, including being an inaugural SEC Fellow and winning second place in the three-minute thesis competition. selected to represent graduate students on the presidential task force created by Gogue.
My time in Auburn was one of my most life-changing experiences to date,” Taylor said. “I learned from so many people. I learned to cultivate relationships. I arrived as a young woman in my mid-twenties, now I’m in my thirties. The growth has been enormous. I am grateful to Auburn for allowing me to have an impact and supporting my ideas.
Taylor has accepted a full-time faculty position at Western Georgia University and will be an adjunct professor at Auburn University in the Department of Special Education. She was inspired to choose special education because of her late cousin, who had Down syndrome.
“He just passed away, but my mission remains the same: to help people and students,” she said.
Each college in Auburn uses a special committee to select a student marshal who best represents the values and level of excellence within the college and carries its flag at the front of the commencement procession. Due to August temperatures, Auburn’s summer semester commencement ceremonies will be held inside Neville Arena.
“I am honored to be Ja’Lia’s senior counselor,” said Margaret Flores, a professor in the Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation and Counseling. “She has shown confidence and determination in completing her thesis research during the COVID-19 pandemic facing and overcoming obstacles in conducting interventional research.”
The university will kick off its graduation weekend at 5:00 p.m. CT on Friday, August 5, with a keynote address from Auburn alumnus and veterinarian Dr. Jay Price. Open to all graduates and their families, Friday’s ceremony will include graduation, greetings from university officials, recognition of graduating students with honors and commencement speech from Price. The ceremony will be streamed live on the university’s website.
In addition to Friday’s offerings, the launch weekend will continue with Combined University Ceremonies taking place on Saturday, August 6 at Neville Arena, with doors opening at 7 a.m. The ceremony start times for Saturday will be as follows: 8 a.m. for the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, the College of Forestry, Wildlife and the Environment, and the College of Nursing; 9:20 a.m. for College of Agriculture, College of Science and Mathematics, College of Education, and College of Humanities; 10:40 a.m. for the Graduate School, including all doctoral students and masters; 1:30 p.m. for Samuel Ginn College of Engineering; 2:45 p.m. for the College of Liberal Arts; and 4:05 p.m. for the Herbert College of Business.
In total, Auburn will award 1,424 degrees, including 152 doctoral degrees, 341 master’s degrees, two professional degrees, 20 education specialist degrees and 909 bachelor’s degrees.