Taylor Hagely has always kept a busy schedule. His extracurricular activities have ranged from being president of the Anthony Aston Players to student advising to performing in various University theatre productions including Hair Spray. After graduation, he hopes to move to New York City and teach special education.
Q: How have you changed since your first days on campus?
A: When I came to Wake Forest, I was still in the closet and very much repressing and denying my sexuality. I thought that because it wasn’t the norm, and because there wasn’t a huge LGBTQ presence on campus at the time, I would be mocked or ridiculed for my sexual orientation. After finding a supportive group of friends and professors, I realized that I would not only be accepted, but loved and celebrated for who I am. Other people didn’t have a problem with me being gay, I was just unable to accept it for myself. I came out at the end of my sophomore year, and it has been the single greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I have learned that just because I don’t identify with what others see as ‘normal’ does not mean that I’m weak or less than anyone else. In fact, it’s a strength that has helped me to love and accept others even more.
Q: What extracurricular activity did you enjoy most and why?
A: One of my favorites was to participate in Wake World, which is an orientation program where we perform sketches about life at Wake Forest for the incoming students. As a first-year student, it was the most memorable part of orientation. I was extremely nervous about starting this new chapter of my life, but the students eased some of those fears by talking about them onstage. It was a privilege to then have the opportunity to stand on that same stage and impart some of the tips and wisdom I’d gathered from my time at Wake Forest to the next generation of Demon Deacons.
Q: Best advice you were given during your four years at Wake Forest?
A: One day during a psychology class, Dr. Edwards presented Mother Teresa’s quote, “God doesn’t require us to succeed, he only requires that you try.” He was relating the quote to dealing with patients, but I believe it can be applied in any setting. As a country, we are achievement-oriented, and we’ve lost sight of the fact that just doing our best is enough. Instead of focusing on being successful, it’s important to be true to yourself and your passions and follow them regardless of the outcome.
Q: Where is the one place on campus you will miss most?
A. Scales Fine Arts Center. After having so many classes and rehearsals there, it became my home away from home. Plus, I think every one of my friends has had a class in Scales at some point, so there were always people around. I’m going to miss walking into the lobby every day and seeing a friendly face, having someone to eat with or talk to.
Q: What shared values do you feel unite the Wake Forest community?
A: Every student and faculty member knows and values Wake Forest’s motto of Pro Humanitate, but everyone exemplifies this in different ways. Whether it’s selling cookies outside Benson to benefit Ronald McDonald House or building houses with Habitat for Humanity, every Demon Deacon actively looks for ways to improve the world around them.
Q: What is the best advice you can give an incoming first-year student?
A: Pursue the truth. Learn something new. Accept yourself and you’ll accept others, too.