It was in high school, right after September 11th, that Ryan Taylor decided he wanted to leave Tallahassee, Florida and join the United States Marine Corps. In 2005, at just 17, he left for Parris Island and went on to become an M1A1 Tank Crewman with 2nd Tank Battalion stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. During his time on active duty he was awarded a Combat Action Ribbon for efforts in Fallujah, Iraq and participated in various training exercises conducted across the US in places like Kentucky, California, and Virginia until his EAS in 2009.
In May 2017, Ryan graduated with a Bachelor’s in Chemistry with a minor in Biology from Florida State University (FSU) where he was an active member of the SVA chapter on campus. Three years later, with his fiancé Jackie and pup Cole, we caught up with him to see how all of these adventures came together to bring him life in 2020.
How would you sum up your service time?
I greatly enjoyed 95% of my time in the Marine Corps. The other 5% mostly includes hitting IEDs, getting shot at, and not showering. The people I met and the experiences I had shaped who I would become. I will always remember the men who gave their lives, and the honor it was to fight alongside them.
What is one thing or tip the military taught you that helped you adapt to your higher education environment?
The most important single thing I learned being a Marine was to never give up—and it has always served me well.
What are some of your favorite accomplishments from your time at FSU?
The FSU Collegiate Student Veterans Association won Organization of the Year in 2013, I was awarded the Seminole Student Award in 2013, I was an FSU Intramural Flag Football Participant in 2012, and my dog thinks I’m pretty neat.
Why did you choose to get involved with the SVA chapter at FSU? Did you serve any leadership positions within your chapter?
Phil Lennon, Jared Lyon’s predecessor was conducting a study on the veteran experience in higher education for the Sociology department at FSU and interviewed me for a few hours at my house. Afterwards he invited me to my first Collegiate Veterans Association (CVA) meeting.
When I got involved and saw what FSU was willing to do for its veterans, I was determined not to let it go to waste. Jared and Phil created a very strong foundation that had the support of the administration. We just didn’t have the involvement from the student veterans. We drove involvement by expanding leadership positions. I would go on to serve as President of the CVA of FSU for two years.
What events or efforts were crucial in your chapter’s path to impact and success?
Taking on diverse and multifaceted projects in everything from state politics to Greek life and student orientation. The student veteran film festival at FSU is an amazing event. Some guy started it a while back – I don’t remember his name. But he had a sweet beard. The Veterans Ball was a big turning point for our organization to be involved culturally on campus. We made the CVA useful and engaging for our student veterans and drew them in by filling it with people they wanted to be around.
What is one thing you learned from your time in SVA that helped you transition into the professional workforce?
It taught me that networking matters. Every time you meet someone and think “how did this person, convince anyone they should have this job.” It’s because they had a great network.
What career path are you on/what do you do now after graduation and where are you located?
I’m an Engineer for Amazon, formerly in Las Vegas and now in Miami.
If you could pass on any recommendation to current and future student veterans for individual success in SVA and their chapter what would it be?
Don’t let people tell you no, just because they don’t have the authority to say yes.
Is there anyone you would like to shout out or thank in your story?
Jared Lyon, Phil Lennon, and Billy Francis were instrumental to that part of my life. Also, special shoutout to Brian Day, and Wallace “Bull” Tyson. Keep killing it.
Written by Kenedey Ward.