ESME Scholarship Winner Erin Taylor: “Never Give Up, Always Be Strong”

ESME Scholarship Winner Erin Taylor: “Never Give Up, Always Be Strong”

Image credit: Provided by Erin Taylor

Taylor credits her single mom, a police officer, with setting her up for success

Erin Taylor has just a few more months of classes before she finishes her undergraduate degree. When she dons her cap and gown on graduation day, she knows who will be cheering the loudest—her mom.

Taylor, 30, the daughter of a single mom and full-time police officer, was recently awarded the $1,500 ESME College Award for the Son or Daughter of a Solo Mom. She is set to graduate in August from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, with a bachelor’s degree in general studies and minors in criminal justice, psychology, and social work.

Her goal is to work with neglected and abused children near her home outside Austin, Texas.

“I’m not exactly sure what I want to do quite yet,” she says. “I just want to help in some way.”

Her commitment to public service is something she learned from her mother, Lenora Mason, a sergeant at the Randall County Sheriff’s Office in Amarillo, Texas. Mason, who retired in 2007 from the Civil Division, had a 30-year law-enforcement career and was, Taylor says, the first woman for Randall County working out in the field.

“I just remember her being very supportive. Looking back now, even though she had a stressful job, rarely did she . . . bring that home,” she says. “She was still supportive of me and my goals.”

Taylor, the youngest of Mason’s three children, says her mother struggled at times with being a Solo Mom.

“I think it was really hard for her because her parents, my grandparents, were married for over 60 years before they passed, and so I think she had that expectation,” Taylor says. “So it was very hard for her being a single mom because I think she felt like she failed us. But in reality she was awesome. She’s very strong.”

As part of the scholarship process, applicants are asked to write an essay in the form of a thank-you letter to their Solo Mom. Taylor wrote to her mother about how her mother instilled values of perseverance, honesty, and unconditional love.

“You didn’t ever, ever, ever give up. You never gave up financially. You never gave up emotionally, and most importantly, you never gave up on me. That, above anything else, is what I hold onto,” she wrote.

And there were fun times, too. Taylor described how her mother was always front and center while she was performing as a high school cheerleader or playing basketball. The mother-daughter duo would also hold impromptu “jam sessions” to their favorite bands.

“You taught me to be honest and true to myself and to others. You taught me to stand tall and be confident in everything I do,” Taylor continued. “You taught me to be brave and always told me that I could do anything I put my mind to. Your resiliency, strength, and bravery are what I admire the most.”

Taylor has already followed her mother’s footsteps into the first-responder field. An emergency medical technician who once worked in an ambulance and then emergency rooms, Taylor has been working full time as a hospital patient care technician while going to school.

It hasn’t been an easy path but one made easier by her mother’s support.

“Momma, thank you for holding me when I was weak, pushing me to be as strong and brave as you are. Thank you for being my security and stability throughout life,” Taylor wrote to her mother. “Thank you for being the most beautiful soul I have ever known. Thank you for doing it alone. With all of my heart, I love you. Always your baby girl, Erin.”

ESME congratulates Erin Taylor and wishes her the best during her final semester!

Sarah Netter, ESME’s Adoption Resource Guide, is a single mother by choice to a fabulous little boy, one neurotic Italian Greyhound, and two Spanish Galgo puppies. She is a full-time journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and ABC News.

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