By Troy Wilde
Updated May 22, 2017
Tucson, AZ – Taylor DeLao (de-LAY-oh) loves all sports and is pursuing a career as an athletic director for a high school or college.
Taylor graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Literacy, Learning and Leadership. Up next, Taylor says she plans on pursuing a graduate degree in Sports Management – born from a lifelong love of sports, “I love to play all sports but I also have a passion for watching other people play sports. I will always play a game of anything – it doesn’t matter what, but I also always watch ESPN or SportsCenter.”
Taylor adds that her favorite sport is basketball but she also enjoys playing tennis and swimming.
Taylor was born and raised in Safford, Arizona where she graduated from Safford High School. She recalls a tough transition from a small town to the big city, “It was rough at first. I went from being kind of a big fish in this really small pond and being super-involved, and everyone knew my name, to moving to this city where I knew no one and I wasn’t as involved. I just kind of had to work my way into that and make new friends and I think that was kind of the hardest part – not knowing anyone and not really having my place. But as my freshman year went on I started getting more involved and meeting new people, and as the years have gone on I feel more like a normal size fish in this big pond.”
Taylor also earned a scholarship from College Success Arizona which provides students with up to six-thousand dollars per year for educational expenses. Students also receive specialized mentoring services from “Success Advisers” (mentors) who help them work through academic as well as personal challenges.
Taylor says her success adviser Matt Sotelo helped her through some pretty hard times, “Matt was been great. Going back to the transition from Safford to the U of A, it was really hard for me at first and I was really down on myself for not being so involved – so I didn’t do so hot my first semester. But Matt stuck with me and said, ‘this transition is hard for everyone.’ Throughout the years I’ve done better and better and he’s helped talk me through all of my options – helped me grow as a person. So having him there has really helped.”
She adds that the scholarship has helped to keep debt to a minimum, “Oh tremendously. Without this scholarship I probably wouldn’t have been able to do this as well as I have without any debt at all.”
College students can mature quickly as they move from high school to college and from their family home to living on their own. Taylor says the Safford- to-Tucson journey has helped prepare her for future challenges, “Taking all of that on helped me really mature and especially helped me for future circumstances that may involve adapting to new people and new places.”
For middle and high school students in Safford who may have their own college dreams in the big city, Taylor says:
“I feel that everyone in Safford – it’s a constant cycle – they think that they can’t get out of this cycle of being there. It’s a place that people kind of get stuck in and I want to tell them that you don’t have to be stuck there. You can dream as big as you want to dream and it’s possible. If someone like me can go out there and do what I’m doing now with all the opportunities that I had, then I say ‘go for it.” If you don’t do it the answer is always no.”
Since 2005, College Success Arizona has worked with nearly 1,300 students, and provided more than 16 million dollars in scholarships and success services to help increase the college attainment rate in Arizona. If you would like to be part of the mission of providing educational opportunity to high potential students from low income backgrounds, your tax deductible contribution can be made through the “Donate” button on the top of this page. Your support can help change lives.