Ja’lia Taylor of Smithville, Georgia, has been selected as the student marshal for the Graduate School for Auburn University’s summer 2022 commencement ceremony, scheduled for Aug. 5-6 at Neville Arena.
Taylor is a doctoral candidate in the College of Education, earning her degree in special education with a minor in critical studies education. A first-generation college student, Taylor formed the President’s Mentoring Circle, a program for minority graduate students interested in higher education leadership to received mentoring from former Auburn President Jay Gogue and other collegiate leaders. She also formed Young Professionals in Training, a pipeline program for underrepresented students to have gain entry to Auburn University. The program provides mentoring and tutoring to those students. Taylor received numerous awards at Auburn, including being an Inaugural SEC Scholar and winning second place in the Three Minute Thesis competition. selected to represent graduate students on the Presidential Task Force created by Gogue.
My time at Auburn was one of the most life changing experiences I’ve had to date,” Taylor said. “I’ve learned from so many people. I’ve learned how to cultivate relationships. I came in as a young woman in my mid-twenties, now I’m in my thirties. The growth has been tremendous. I’m grateful for Auburn allowing me to make an impact and supporting my ideas.”
Taylor has accepted a position as a professor at the University of West Georgia full-time and will be an adjunct professor at Auburn University in the Department of Special Education. She was inspired to choose special education because of her late cousin, who had Down syndrome.
“He just passed away, but my mission remains the same: to help people and students,” she said.
Each college at Auburn enlists a special committee to select a student marshal who best represents the values and level of excellence within the college and carry its flag at the front of the commencement procession. Due to August’s temperatures, Auburn’s summer semester commencement ceremonies will take place inside Neville Arena.
“I am honored to be Ja’Lia’s major advisor,” said Margaret Flores, professor in the Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, and Counseling. “She demonstrated reliance and determination in completing her dissertation research over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic facing and overcoming barriers in conducting intervention research.”
The university will kick off its graduation weekend at 5 p.m. CT on Friday, Aug. 5, with a commencement address from Auburn alumnus and veterinarian Dr. Jay Price. Open to all graduates and their families, the Friday ceremony will feature the conferral of degrees, greetings by university officials, the recognition of students graduating with academic honors and the keynote by Price. The ceremony will be streamed live on the university’s commencement website.
In addition to Friday’s offerings, commencement weekend will continue with combined college ceremonies taking place on Saturday, August 6, in Neville Arena, with doors opening at 7 a.m. Ceremony start times for Saturday will be as follows: 8 a.m. for the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment and the College of Nursing; 9:20 a.m. for the College of Agriculture, College of Sciences and Mathematics, College of Education and College of Human Sciences; 10:40 a.m. for the Graduate School, including all doctoral and master’s candidates; 1:30 p.m. for the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering; 2:45 p.m. for the College of Liberal Arts; and 4:05 p.m. for the Harbert College of Business.
In total, Auburn will award 1,424 degrees, including 152 doctoral degrees, 341 master’s degrees, two professional degrees, 20 education specialist degrees and 909 bachelor’s degrees.