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At Taylor, students are equipped for the future by interacting with an environment of academic excellence and by interacting with a diverse global community. Students like junior Josue Villalobos are able to attend Taylor University thanks to the generosity of donors who give to the Taylor Fund. As a first-generation college student, he’s studying Biology Pre-Med with the goal of pursuing a career as a veterinarian.
Villalobos was raised in the west suburbs of Chicago, but his family is originally from central Mexico. Growing up, Mexico played a significant role in his life. He often spent summers and holidays in the Zacatecas area, where family members owned ranches, complete with horses and livestock.
“I grew up with animals my entire life,” he said. “But I didn’t realize it was a passion until I began to have pets of my own.”
In high school, Villalobos received his first pet. Some of Villalobos’ pets had disabilities and required special care, including a beloved dog named Lucy who was blind and deaf. Villalobos enjoyed caring for his special-needs pets and eventually began to feel led toward a career in veterinary medicine.
Villalobos knew he wanted to continue his education after high school, but no one in his immediate family had attended college before. However, his cousin, Maribel Magallanes, is the director of the Office of Intercultural Programs and a Taylor alumna, and she encouraged Josue and his parents to look into the school.
“I came to visit, and loved the atmosphere and community of the campus,” he said.
He applied and was accepted, but finances were a significant barrier for his family to afford sending him to Taylor. However, Josue qualified to receive support from the Taylor Fund and other scholarships. Thanks to the generosity of supporters of the Taylor Fund, this barrier to higher education was eliminated. Taylor has several scholarship programs, like Act Six, Cultural Diversity Scholarship, and others, that make college possible for students from urban backgrounds.
“The scholarships have honestly been such a blessing. It’s helped me and my family financially,” Villalobos said.
Villalobos grew up in a Christian home, and like many with a similar faith background, he didn’t take his faith very seriously. But the combination of Taylor’s Residence Life and liberal arts academics that integrate with faith helped him discover a new depth of love for his Savior.
“Taylor helped me reconnect with my faith. I’m still working on it, still finding more and more opportunities to grow within myself. But I've seen how it’s worked out, and I’ve found new peace and joy and clarity in what I want to do.”
Taylor’s low student-to-faculty ratio (12:1) means that professors are more readily available to talk to students when they have questions. They are just as happy to share wisdom about faith and life as they are to talk about classes.
“Taylor shaped me to become the better person I am today. With other schools, I don't think I would have made those same shifts.”
College is an intense time for everyone, but for first-generation college students, the pressure can be even greater. Villalobos has learned to seek out mentors that have helped him along the way.
“My advisors here are great. When I changed my major from Chemistry to Biology, my advisors were very encouraging and affirming. I love the fact that I’m able to tell my story, and they listen to hear where I’m coming from. It opens up more doors.”
Last summer, Villalobos did an internship with PAWS (Pets are Worth Saving) in Chicago. He was able to get experience in different areas of the clinic and loved every moment, even the sometimes-messy work of caring for scared, sick animals. He is planning to seek out more internship opportunities, in order to gain hours of hands-on animal experience that will help him qualify for veterinary school. He’s still exploring what area of veterinary science to focus on–marine, livestock, small animal, etc–but he’s looking forward to taking his next steps.
“It’s a long road and I'm 100% in, all the way.”
You can be a part of helping other students like Josue Villalobos by donating to the Taylor Fund.