Unexpected turns

Science professor’s passion leads to new career opportunity

By Elaine Gerou and Casey Samyn
Managing Editor and Campus Life Editor

Professor Bonnita Taylor explains to (from left to right) Amber Stetson, Megan Stratchan, and Rachel Ferrce the common sports injuries that can be done to the human knee. Photo by Nathan Gartner.

Professor Bonnita Taylor explains to (from left to right) Amber Stetson, Megan Stratchan, and Rachel Ferrce the common sports injuries that can be done to the human knee. Photo by Nathan Gartner.

Life is not a plan that can be etched in stone expected not to change. It is more like a message in the sand. It may stay the same for a long time under the right circumstances, but many times waves wash it away or wind blows it in a different direction. Schoolcraft professor Bonnie Taylor understands first-hand how life’s journey can take unexpected turns.

Taylor originally got her bachelor degree in animal science in hopes of becoming a veterinarian, but did not make the cut for her original dream job. Similar situations happen to students trying to transfer to a prestigious university or get into a competitive grad school.

“It’s funny how life presents opportunities that don’t look like opportunities at the time,” Taylor said, showing that when one door closes another opens.

After working a humbling job in the food processing industry early on in her career, Taylor realized this wasn’t the path she wanted to take and decided to return to school in hopes of teaching science at the middle school level.

“Full time jobs did not materialize like they were supposed to,” she said, which unfortunately seems to happen to many graduated students looking to put their degree to use.

The roadblock led Taylor to use her teaching certificate to substitute teach and teach adult education at Plymouth-Canton High School and Brighton High School until she earned her masters degree and could pursue teaching opportunities at the community college level. After working part time for nine years at Schoolcraft, Washtenaw and Oakland Community College her perseverance paid off. In 2002, Taylor got offered a fulltime professor position at Schoolcraft and accepted the offer.

“I identify with a lot of returning students. I understand how hard it is career changing–shifting gears midstream and balancing family, work and kids,” said Taylor.

Taylor’s determination and motivation is what got her to the position she is in today and she wants to encourage students to succeed and work hard saying, “You can do more than you think you can. Nothing beats motivation; nothing beats a purpose. Once you find your purpose, nothing can stop you, but don’t be afraid to ask people for help. It looks on the outside that you’re handling it, but a lot of times you do need help to free up a little time so you can study. People will help you if you ask them, but you have to ask. They tend not to volunteer.”

She has been at Schoolcraft in both a full and part time capacity for 21 years, preparing students to become nurses, pharmacists, doctors and more. She teaches Biology 101, Basic Anatomy and Physiology (biology 105) Anatomy and Physiology, (Biology 237 and 238) and Biology 240.

Biomedical Equipment Technician major Dante B. Combs said, “The thing I like about Professor Taylor is that even though anatomy and physiology is a difficult class with all the information, it is very structured. It’s probably the most structured class I’ve had when it comes to the biological sciences. Professor Taylor gives you every opportunity to learn and she has a lot of resources.”

Despite not being in the profession she originally chose to pursue, Taylor has welcomed her alternative career path with open arms. “I was upset about not being able to be a veterinarian at one time, but I think I am where I am supposed to be. When I look back, I think that really wasn’t supposed to happen for me,” Taylor said. “I’m now in a place where I love my job working at Schoolcraft College. Every semester brings new challenges and new opportunities to connect with students, and that’s the best part of my job. It’s the best job in the world.”

As a professor, Taylor helps students, especially returning students, reach their education and career goals. Although she did not originally see herself where she is now, she knows this is where she is supposed to be and is proud to call Schoolcraft her home.