By Mackenzie Cutruzzula
As part of Women in Learning and Leadership’s (WILL) various events for Women’s History Month, the College’s own Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Jacqueline Taylor, read from her memoir, “Waiting For the Call: From Preacher’s Daughter to Lesbian Mom.”
The reading on Tuesday, March 24, in the Library Auditorium had special significance for Taylor, as it was the 31st anniversary of when she and her spouse Carol Settler began their relationship. Taylor’s memoir has a heavy focus on finding your purpose in life. With her spouse in mind, Taylor’s eventual purpose to be a wife and mother with Settler was clear, but her journey there is clearly what makes Taylor a humorous and relatable person.
“My father surrendered to the call when he was 13 years old,” Taylor said on her father’s vocation to become a preacher. “When I was 10 years old, I wanted my call.”
Growing up in Kentucky as the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher, Taylor was told her calling in life would come to as a message from God. Taylor grew impatient of waiting, and by the age of 10, she was “chock full of pep and ideas” and wanted God to tell her what she should be doing with all of them.
Taylor hoped her call would be to become a missionary, following in the footsteps of Lottie Moon. Moon was a surprisingly independent missionary in the late 1800s who, in such a conservative religion, was able to travel to China and, despite many offers, never marry. However, despite all her dedication and hopes, Taylor never received her call from God to be missionary and eventually put away that dream as she grew up.
While she was never inspired to be a missionary, Taylor was able to find her own calling within herself as a young woman.
“I didn’t want to be a teacher, nurse or secretary — I wanted to be a leader,” Taylor said about her aspirations when she was younger.
Stuck between her ultra conservative upbringing and true identity, Taylor felt constrained in her first marriage to a man. She knew she wanted to be a “character,” not a “sleepwalking wife and would-be mother.” When the character she was waiting to become did arrive, her life quickly changed.
“Just like that, my marriage ended and I was a lesbian,” Taylor said laughing at the abbreviated timeline.
Despite her parents’ initial disagreement, they always supported her relationship with Settler and, with further acceptance and time, made Settler apart of their family.
“I think it’s amazing how she broke so many barriers,” freshman English major Jenna Brophy said. “She defied the stereotype that a preacher’s daughter has to be a certain way. She was able to come out and be a lesbian, and that was comforting to me because everyone should get to be themselves in life.”
Settler and their adopted daughters, Lucy and Grace, were Taylor’s true calling in life. Although not living the traditional life that 10-year-old Taylor expected herself to be living, her daughter slowly learned that everything happens for a reason. After explaining faith and destiny to her children, 5-year-old Lucy pieced together that Taylor’s life had always been a series of events, ultimately leading her to the moment she went to Peru to adopt Lucy and then Grace.
“You are my destiny,” Lucy said to her mother later that day.
And in that moment, Taylor finally found her calling.
“I really liked how honest she was because that is what made her so relatable to me,” said freshman special education and history double major Allyson Vilanova. “Her stories showed me that you can come from a small town and not really being yourself but still find a way to become successful in what you actually want to be doing.”
Taylor believes that we are all still evolving. We don’t just get one call in life — we get several. She knows that she is still on a journey because she still has more questions than answers in her life, but she doesn’t feel as unsettled about trying to find those answers anymore.