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Self-Discovery Leads to Bettering the Lives of Others

Lily Taylor, a junior at Broken Arrow High School and a first-year cosmetology student at Tulsa Tech, didn’t get to this point in her education easily. However, through Tulsa Tech and the Miss Oklahoma program, she is discovering who she is as a person.

Taylor begins her day at Broken Arrow High School, but then she changes into her scrubs and comes to Tulsa Tech, where she feels at home. From the assistant director of the Broken Arrow Campus, Mr. John Peterson, and her instructors Mrs. Aubrey Brunger and Mrs. Kerri Bowman, there is always someone to listen and talk with every day.

“Knowing that I have somebody here to back me up, somebody to talk to and just seeing their friendly faces has been so amazing, and I'm so thankful to have all the staff in my life. It is the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in a learning environment,” she said.

“Getting into the cosmetology program isn’t easy, but it has been such a blessing. It is entertaining, I’m constantly working on something and there is never a dull moment.”

Taylor plans on finishing the two-year cosmetology program, attend college to earn a business degree and open a chain of salons. She wants to focus on aesthetics, such as lashes, brows, and facials, but also hair and makeup.

As a young girl, while she was very shy and insecure, her mom put her into the Oklahoma Stars Mentoring Program, which is for young ladies ages 5-10 years old. This program partners them with a young woman as a role model, who encourages them to achieve their best.

“I still talk with my mentor all the time. She has been such an amazing influence on my life, and I just want to be able to give back to the program.”

Taylor also struggled with acne and body image when she was younger. She got a facial and that prompted her love for cosmetology because she wanted to help other girls feel more confident in themselves, the same way she felt after getting help with her skin issues.

She competed and won the Miss Heartland’s Teen pageant in late January, which is part of the Miss America Teen organization, and will be vying for Miss Oklahoma Teen this June.

“I’ve put all my free time and hard work into training, gym, diets, making sure my mind and body are healthy, pageant prep for hair and makeup, and all the work of growing as a person has finally paid off. It is an amazing experience and I’m so thankful for the opportunity.”

One of the personal projects Taylor is passionate about is providing books to children. She grew up having two learning disabilities that went undiagnosed until her sophomore year of high school.

“It was a struggle for me. I never went to the library, even in elementary school I didn’t go because I was so embarrassed. I thought there was something wrong with me, but then getting diagnosed and accepting that it wasn’t my fault that I struggled was difficult,” she said.

When walking in her neighborhood, Taylor saw a Little Free Library, which is a place where anyone can freely take a book or leave a book. She picked up a book and was determined to read it, and it was the most rewarding feeling she’s ever felt getting through that first page. It inspired her to attend her first book fair and purchase a book, “The Summer I Turned Pretty”, which she read and loved.

“If it wasn’t for Little Free Library and all the people that love and support me, I would never have been able to do that. I want to give other kids the opportunity to have access to the books without the embarrassment of not wanting to go to the library because you can’t read as well as others.”

Taylor is collecting books at Tulsa Tech’s Broken Arrow campus and every weekend takes them to low-income areas to put in neighborhood little libraries.

Though her struggles with body image and reading, she has used them to not only better herself, but better the lives of others that follow in her footsteps.