Being a high school dropout makes a mark on one’s life, but so does earning a doctoral degree in nursing. It’s rare when both happen to the same person, but Barron Taylor, DNP, is a rare individual.
Raised in the Crawford Village Housing Projects in McKeesport, Pa., he was taken from his mother when he was just four years old because of her battle with substance abuse disorder. He was separated from his six siblings and placed in a children’s shelter. His father was gone, and he ultimately would be raised by his maternal grandmother, a functional alcoholic. As a teenager, Dr.Taylor made the life-altering decision to drop out of high school.
“I felt like there was no place in the world for me,” he remembers. “I didn’t fit in anywhere.”
Even as he felt he didn’t belong; he knew he was better than the drugs and violence in the projects. With determination, he earned his GED, applied for a welfare-to-work program to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), graduated, and worked as an LPN at a nursing home for 10 years, eventually becoming Director of Nursing Services. When he was laid off in 2009 with a wife and four children to support, he admits now that he had suicidal thoughts.
His wife, Tonya, a Carlow University alumna with a bachelor’s degree in education and at the time working towards a master’s degree, urged him to enroll at Carlow for his bachelor of science in nursing. Despite feeling “grossly intimidated,” he listened to her, and that has made all the difference.
“Carlow was my safe haven,” says the man who has earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctor of nursing practice at Carlow. “Any other place I would have been a number, but I was never a number at Carlow.”
That’s not to say that Carlow was a shortcut. He earned his degrees.
“I felt safe at Carlow, but I don’t mean that the program was easy,” Dr. Taylor says. “Carlow has a reputation for producing outstanding nurses, and a standard for academic rigor, but I knew I was going to be prepared to meet that standard. I never had to change who I was to get through the program.”
As the first African American male to earn his DNP at Carlow, Dr. Taylor has come a long way. Today he lives in Charlotte, NC and serves as a Senior APP Educator for CenterWell Senior Primary Care’s National Clinical Education Team. He is also an entrepreneur, too, as he owns his own travel agency. He is a man of deep and abiding faith, which he talks about easily.
“God has been good to us,” he says. “I’m never surprised by what God does.”
With Carlow’s new practical nursing certificate program beginning in the fall, Taylor enthusiastically believes that the PN program will help many people in a similar situation to where he found himself 30 years ago.
“The strongest weapon in our arsenal as human beings is hope,” he said. “This program will give hope to the same people today as it gave me 30 years ago. Same God!”