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Vice President Development
“Sometimes in life we don’t have all the answers, and our generation definitely shouldn’t think we have to know it all at 20, we just have to keep moving forward.”
When I was a Senior at Blackwell High School, I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do, and that was scary. I mean kids at this age are supposed to know their next step, right? I knew I had to start looking and applying to colleges, take the ACT, apply for scholarships and all the things you have to do to prepare for your next step, but then what? It was all so overwhelming, especially with everything else I had going as a senior with school activities.
All I could really think about was music! It’s always been a big part of my life. I had been in Vocal and attended state and national competitions and was in community and school musicals for most of my time in high school. Was music my next step? Can I have a future in music?
I wasn’t sure, but that November was our school musical and I had the male lead in the show. I was extremely busy as our musicals in Blackwell are always great and require a lot of hours and a lot of hard work. So, I decided I was going to focus on the musical, and then worry about college when the musical was over.
The time went by fast, as all senior year activities do and the next thing I knew, the last show was over. That following Monday as I was sitting in first hour, my Vocal teacher said, the Roustabout and Musical Director from NOC was on the phone and wanted to talk with me. She went onto say, that she was at the show scouting over the weekend and wanted to talk to me about NOC and their music programs and scholarships. She asked if I was interested. Honestly, I wasn’t! I had my mind set on going to a big university; however, I told her I would be interested in hearing more and she invited me down to watch a college musical later that week.
I was immediately impressed, and after the musical and hearing what NOC had to offer I decided to audition for the Roustabouts. I made it. This IS what I was meant to do. Music fills my soul and it’s always been a huge part of who I am!
That fall I began my college career at NOC. The Roustabouts gave me so many amazing opportunities and blessings. I met friends and created priceless memories that I will have for the rest of my life. I was able to travel and perform not only all over Oklahoma, but on a Royal Caribbean Cruise which toured to Cozumel, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, and had the amazing privilege to perform solos in front of Broadway legends Jeri Sager and Franc D’Ambrosia.
NOC is an amazing school because it provides you with that hometown feel and helps you take your first steps away to college. The professors and staff are amazing and welcoming and want nothing but the best for you and your future. It was an easy transition for me from high school because the professors really got to know me and helped me with everything I needed. I not only made lifelong friendships with students; I gained a new family. Being at NOC just felt like home.
As amazing as it all was when it came time for me to leave NOC I started to feel the pressures of life again, much like that kid leaving high school. How is someone in their early 20’s supposed to have life figured out? I found myself wondering again was music going to be my life’s work? It worked for me in high school, and I’ve had an awesome 3 years at college in the music field, it had even given me the blessings through scholarships to obtain my Associates degree debt free. But, now what? Will my business card read: Taylor Varner, Music? What would that even mean? What was my next step?
Then, I realized my journey wasn’t over, it was only the beginning. Through my time at NOC I gained confidence. My 3.9 GPA sealed my membership with Phi Theta Kappa and I was even a runner-up for Homecoming King. My time there gave me the opportunity to invest in me and sort through the normal transitional feelings that kids my age are feeling and my Advisors and mentors were there to help me with the next step in life. Sometimes in life we don’t have all the answers, and our generation definitely shouldn’t think we have to know it all at 20, we just have to keep moving forward. I didn’t have to leave a junior college finished. NOC was just the starting point of my college career.
I bounced through a few major universities trying to figure out my next step after graduating from NOC. The big university I had dreamt of ended up not being the “big college” of my dreams. At this point, I found myself at a new low. How is it that everybody else knew their next step and everything I ever wanted just didn’t feel right? Another eye opening moment for me was that for those that get it, that’s great, but for those of us that still don’t know… It’s okay!
A few more alignments in my path later and I landed at UCO, my next stop for continued education and growth. Here I’ve had the privilege to grow in the broadcasting field working on school and local news as the lead male anchor. I’ve also been busy doing video and voiceover projects on and off campus, and I’ve had the privilege to intern at radio stations and casting agencies which even allowed me to be in a Kevin Durant commercial. I’m still currently here at UCO, one more semester and I’ll graduate with a Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism. Yes, that’s right “Broadcast Journalism”. You see maybe music will be part of my future, maybe not, maybe all my experience in vocal training and being on stage just catapulted me into my current position. Funny how God works, isn’t it?
I’m still trying to find my way in life, and that’s still okay!
I’m looking and focusing towards my future and realizing the goals that I want to reach one day. I think it’s important to learn from all the obstacles in life and when they knock you down to get right back up, even stronger. We all have those moments, but it’s how we pick ourselves back up that makes us who we are. We are 20-something, we are young and free. We should go out and grab every opportunity life hands us, even when we don’t know exactly where we are going. It’s okay, we’re not supposed to have our lives all figured out at such a young age. It’s a big world out there. Does anybody actually have it all figured out?
I live by the saying, “Everything happens for a reason,” and looking back at all the hard times through my college years, all the indecisiveness, all the uncertainties and just life in general I can smile and say, it really does. Never give up and don’t let anything or anyone get in your way, especially in today’s society where everyone has an opinion about your life. You’re never going to make everyone happy, but as long as you and the people that mean the most to you are happy and believe in you, that’s all that matters.
Always pursue your goals and dreams and what’s important to you, and if you’re not sure what that is, just keep moving forward. Realize the blessings you have and try to be the best YOU possible.
Since, I’ve fully embraced all these things, my life has truly changed. I’ve lost over 90 pounds in the past couple of years and it just goes to show you that you can do anything you set your mind too.
Graduating in December, I now have a lot of different career options ahead of me, but what I’ve realized the most is that true happiness is the biggest key in getting what you want out of life. Once you find that the rest falls into place. Do what makes you happy and fulfilled in life. When I look back at my time at NOC, I feel so fulfilled and blessed as it was an amazing experience for me. NOC gave me the tools to propel myself to a successful future. I’m so happy I attended and will always be a proud alum.
It’s okay to be on the edge of adulthood, somewhere between a curfew and an electric bill, somewhere between high school and college, somewhere between your dreams and reality. A lot of great things happen in the “between’s” and we don’t have to have it all figured out today.
The road isn’t going to be easy, but you can do it. I have faith in you, I have faith in me!