Taylor Wreath of Vienna, VA, has proven herself to be a stand-out during her three years at Randolph-Macon Academy. She has challenged herself with Advanced Placement classes and earned over a 4.1 weighted GPA. She has excelled in volleyball and basketball, while at the same time participating in drama productions and Girl Scouts, and providing tours to prospective families as part of the Academy’s Own student recruitment team. Her leadership skills garnered her the highest cadet position and rank she could earn as a junior, when she was named Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Virginia 091st Air Force Junior ROTC unit at R-MA. Now, heading into her senior year at R-MA, she has been named Group Commander, the highest position a cadet can hold.
As if that were not impressive enough for a college resume, Taylor kept herself extremely busy over the summer with an internship, Girls State, and starting her own business.
During the week of June 10-14, Taylor had an internship on Capitol Hill with Congressman Donald M. Payne Jr. from New Jersey. During the internship, she worked in the Cannon House Office building alongside his staff. She sat in on committee hearings, such as the Homeland Security committee on natural disasters which discussed the nation’s preparedness to recover, and meetings between the Congressman and his constituents, who would come to discuss particular bills.
“The coolest part was exploring the Capitol and witnessing a vote on a bill first hand,” said Taylor. “I was also able to participate in certain interest group meetings in the Capitol on issues like legalizing marijuana, cruel and unusual punishment, and other hot topics. I got to meet other members of Congress as well, including my Representative Gerald Connolly. Overall, it was an incredible experience and I learned so much.”
There was no pause in the action for this driven young woman. The week of June 16-22, she was a delegate at Virginia Girls State, which was hosted by the American Legion Auxiliary, the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization.
“Now this was an incredible experience,” Taylor said. “I ran for Sheriff of my assigned city, Lewis, and got the position. I was surrounded by motivated, talented, passionate young women like myself. I got to experience political campaigning, party conventions, the writing and passing of state bills, the process of law and justice and so much more.”
Taylor also ran to be a Girls Nation Senator during Girls State. Though she was not selected, the experience required her to take a strong stance on her beliefs and defend them. She practiced the valuable skills of writing powerful speeches and presenting them to a large audience.
“Not only did I gain a better understanding of the working of the state government, but a new network of friends,” she said. “Being a part of a community like Girls State was incredible. I still talk with all of the girls in my city and we all support each other. One girl said it perfectly in her campaign speech as she ran for Governor: ‘When young women come together and support each other, there is no stopping us!’ Overall, it was an experience I will remember forever.”
At that point, many people might have decided they had done enough with their summer, and it was time for a bit of a vacation–especially if, like Taylor, they had to be back to Randolph-Macon Academy early for the Cadet Leadership Course that would be held August 7-16. Taylor, however, used her “down time” to establish her own company, Sustaining Style.
“I thrift or use donated shirts and print quotes from powerful and inspiring women on them and then resell them,” said Taylor. “The purpose behind it is to stop the waste cycle of fashion, as we have so many shirts filling the dumps and shelves of thrift stores, yet millions more are made each day.”
She also uses the shirts as a way to spread awareness about women she finds inspiring. “I take quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt, Malala Yousfzai and other incredible ladies,” she said. “Each shirt comes with the bio of the woman quoted, and a word about sustainable living.” The blog on her website expands on this, focusing on sustainable living, powerful/inspiring women, and other “thoughts of mind.”
Though the company has not gotten off to a great start, Taylor said that didn’t surprise her. “I wasn’t expecting a huge profit,” she said. “It is more of a passion project that I enjoy doing.