Literature has always held a special place in Taylor Riley’s psyche. Maybe she developed it from her mother, who read books to Taylor while she was still in the womb. Or maybe it was her grandmother, who told her she knew her granddaughter’s name would be in the paper someday. Whatever the cause, Taylor’s passion for reading and writing was evident from childhood, as she watched and reported on things she witnessed in her neighborhood.
On June 1, Taylor will graduate from Spalding University with her Master of Fine Arts in Writing degree. And in addition to serving as a 2019 class representative and receiving an Eileen Egan Graduate Award, she is already making changes in her community.
Taylor, who earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Kentucky, is currently using Spalding’s MFA education, along with her writing talent, as a voice for those living in small-town America. Working as the editor of the Henry County Local has given her the opportunity to shine a light on important local stories and issues that might otherwise go unheard and unnoticed.
“We need to be able to keep our government accountable for its actions,” she said. “Keeping the public informed, asking questions and always seeking the truth is the most effective way I know how to do that.”
While studying for her MFA at Spalding, Taylor’s desire to pursue narrative journalism became a need. She began working on a book of essays, Fearful Female, which is currently in the publishing process. The essays focus on her personal fears and how she’s overcome them, as well as broader fears she feels that many women can relate to. She hopes her book will help other women identify and overcome their own fears.
“The MFA program at Spalding really helped me sharpen and hone my writing,” Taylor said. “But it also helped me come out of my personal shell, make new connections and network with others in the industry.”
Spalding’s MFA program also left Taylor with a new passion. She will begin teaching monthly writing workshops at a local library and classes at Bellarmine University. Taylor believes today’s journalists need to begin thinking differently about their field. The internet and social media have revolutionized the news industry, and learning to adapt to new communication technologies is crucial. She wants to share her wealth of literary and journalistic knowledge with others eager to join the field.
“Spalding is the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said.
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