For almost seven years Roy Taylor of Heidelberg has been drug and alcohol free. A psychology major at MSU-Meridian, Taylor says his adoptive mother, Mattie Taylor, and brother David, also a recovering addict, are the ones who inspired him to go back to school.
“After 30 years, David retired and went back to school at MSU-Meridian to fulfill his dream of becoming a teacher,” Taylor noted. “I figured if he could turn his life around – so could I.”
Taylor graduated from Jones County Junior College in 2011 and received the Riley Next Step Scholarship from MSU-Meridian. In addition to attending classes at the university, Taylor teaches a men’s spiritual 12-step program held at Love for Action, a local ministry founded 35 years ago by Polly Coker.
“Mrs. Coker answered God’s call on her life and opened her home to the homeless, feeding and clothing those who had nowhere else to go,” Taylor said. “I went to her home in June 2006 and stayed until December 2007. I was transformed into a new person and I have been going back to help ever since.”
Taylor also drives a bus for the ministry, which operates a food line and worship service on Saturdays, and he also does their paper work.
Adopted when he was only two days old, Taylor was told in 1995 that his biological mother, Selma Watkins, had died and he decided to attend her funeral. It was there he found out he had seven brothers – five of whom were incarcerated – and six sisters. After his mother’s death, Taylor says he became immersed in a life of drugs and crime.
He did a few stints in prison and then on Jan. 22, 2006, decided that he needed to change his ways – for good.
“Seventy-five percent of prisoners are repeat offenders,” Taylor noted. “And when you get out of prison, the officers tell you they will see you when you get back, but I told them I won’t be back and I meant it. I have a personal relationship with Jesus and I knew with Him, all things are possible.”
Taylor has shared his life experiences in several classes while attending JCJC and also at MSU-Meridian in his Crime and Justice in America class with Amanda Cook.
“This class was very beneficial to me. I now have a much better understanding of how the criminal justice system works and the procedures that law enforcement officers use today,” Taylor said. “I really enjoyed the way Ms. Cook presented the material and I was always given the opportunity to share my knowledge about the (criminal justice) system with her and the class.”
Although Taylor is majoring in psychology he indicated he would like to take another criminology class maybe one geared more towards corrections since he is already involved in that aspect of the criminal justice system with his work at Love for Action.
“One of the greatest feelings a person can experience is when you become aware that something you said or did helped someone. I want to use my life to do that.”
To learn more about the Criminology or Psychology degree programs offered at MSU-Meridian contact the division of Arts and Sciences at (601) 484-0140. Other degree programs offered through the division include: English, History, General Liberal Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies and Social Work.