Dec. 13, 2016
By Brad Muller | More Features
Taylor Vincent wants to change the world, and she doesn’t necessarily want to do it one person at a time. The senior on South Carolina’s swim team is studying public health and wants to see improvements in the field on a global scale.
“I know I’m one person, but just like I have learned in athletics, when you take in the small victories, you can be a part of something that’s so much bigger than yourself,” Vincent said. “That’s why I want to do global health. I want to be a part of making the world better. I know that sounds cliché, but I want people to be able to have the right to great health care. That’s something I’m really passionate about."
Vincent has applied to several prestigious graduate schools which focus on global health programs. She is also thinking about joining the Peace Corps, and if she goes that route, Vincent said she’s willing to go anywhere.
“They can put me in a remote village where I have to wash my clothes in the river with no electronics and I’ll be a happy camper, as long as I’m out there helping people,” Vincent said.
Vincent originally wanted to be a nursing major at South Carolina, but her first public health class changed her course.
“It occurred to me that instead of helping one person at a time, I could help populations,” Vincent said. “That’s why I dove into it. That’s what I would love to do every day. I think I can help make a lot of change.
“The health care system is insanely confusing, and in some cases can be pretty terrible. I really believe prevention is the key to success in getting rid of diseases. I’m a firm believer that health is a human right. I think that in a lot of developing countries, and even some developed countries, it is not everybody’s right.”
Our coaches definitely put an emphasis on how they’re not just trying to make us better swimmers. They’re trying to make us better people.
Taking on a leadership role has become her nature, and even with the many demands of balancing academics and athletics, Vincent finds time to be involved in many service and volunteer activities.
“That’s something I learned in college,” Vincent said. “I don’t think I was someone who would step out and go against the norm or reach higher than I was expected to before I came here. I think swimming, my team and our coaches have something to do with that. It has really taught me that if you want something to get done, then you are going to have to put more effort into it than anybody else.”
Vincent is a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and is Secretary of Athletics for South Carolina Student-Government. She is also taking part in the Gamecock Leadership Academy, and she has a passion for taking part in community service events.
“Our team is really involved in Relay for Life, and I’m also excited to take part in the Dance Marathon this year,” Vincent said. “This will be the first year that I can actually be standing and dancing for 12 hours since our season will be over by then. In the past, we could only be there during ‘athlete hour.’ The whole time you’re raising money for children’s cancer research. It’s just a great cause.
“It’s just really rewarding to be that busy I’ve met so many friends outside of athletics, which is awesome. I’m a very organized person.”
Vincent is also part of another university committee which includes Athletics Director Ray Tanner and Senior Associate Athletics Director for Academics and Student Development Maria Hickman, in addition to many individuals outside of the Athletics Department.
“The goal is to make sure that everyone gets their say in all the different issues that can come up around athletics,” Vincent said. “For instance, we recently talked about whether students should have to pay for their football tickets. Being a representative for the student-body for things like that is a big deal to me.
“We talked about where all the funds go, and how much is given back to the university by athletics. That’s a huge portion! There were so many things I had no idea about. It has really opened my eyes to a side of athletics I never knew about.”
This desire to be heavily involved is encouraged by her coaches.
“Our coaches definitely put an emphasis on how they’re not just trying to make us better swimmers,” Vincent said. “They’re trying to make us better people. They said that to me during the recruiting process, and they’re still saying that to me now. They want to set us up to be better people in life, not just better athletes. We have a great support system here, so I wasn’t afraid to do it all.”
"Taylor is an outstanding young lady with a huge heart,” said South Carolina head coach McGee Moody. “She cares deeply about her teammates and makes serving others a priority. I can't put into words how much fun it has been to coach her. I am going to miss her when she graduates!”
A two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and a team captain for the Gamecocks, Vincent is good role model, but she is always trying to improve.
“Being a leader, you have to lead and listen,” Vincent said. I’m a captain on the team, but all of the other girls are my equal. Every single person on our team is a leader in a different way.”
As she prepares for her final season of competition with the Gamecocks, she is excited for the team to build on the success it established during the fall. When it’s over, while she will miss being a student-athlete, Vincent is excited to hang up the goggles and make a difference somewhere else.
“I’m excited, and I’m scared, but I think it’s going to be really great,” Vincent said. “I’m going to have a lot more time to throw myself into my other passions. Times are going to be hard, but it’s how you react and push through those times that matters. How you grow through those situations in college can really determine the person you are going to be. You need to speak your mind and get involved, make friends and stretch your mind.”
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