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Devon Taylor's Fan Base Grows to Include Harvard Medical School

Devon Taylor

Devon Taylor, the former high school truant who has made headlines at Old Dominion University because of his perfect grades and national prominence as an undergraduate researcher, has won a full scholarship from Harvard Medical School.

His award will pay all of his medical school expenses plus some living expenses. "This is exciting," he said this week, keeping true to his penchant for understatement.

Taylor will graduate from the College of Health Sciences in May with a perfect, 4.0 GPA. But first, he will travel to Washington, D.C., in April as one of 74 undergraduates nationwide to be invited to present research at the 2012 "Posters on the Hill" event.

The poster session, held annually by the Council on Undergraduate Research, will be April 24 in the Rayburn Office Building near the Capitol. Those in attendance will include members of Congress, congressional staff members and representatives of federal agencies. Congressmen Scott Rigell of Virginia's 2nd District and Bobby Scott of the 3rd District will be Taylor's hosts.

Taylor took on the research project that won him a spot in "Posters on the Hill" while he was a 2011 summer intern at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. The project focuses on a study of the genetic underpinnings of a complicated disease, atopic dermatitis.

As a teenager in Flint, Mich., Taylor lived in a housing project and barely managed to graduate from high school. He joined the Navy, and for nearly a decade he worked in the service's nuclear power program. "The Navy reconstituted my sense of hope," Taylor has said. "My self-confidence was rebuilt."

In the back of his mind throughout the Navy experience, however, was a long-standing dream to be a physician. He wanted to deliver health care to the less fortunate, to people such as the neighbors he remembered from Flint who didn't see a doctor very often and were uncomfortable with the interaction when they did. His participation in Navy relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 only made him more determined to realize the dream.

So when Taylor left the Navy in 2009 he enrolled in ODU's College of Health Sciences. "I felt old, like I had to make up time," he said. "I wanted to get my bachelor's degree in three years and the people here have done everything they can to help me. The personal attention I have gotten here has meant a lot to me."

Jacqueline Sharpe, the director of the college's health sciences bachelor's program, took Taylor under her wing early on. "From the day I met him, he has expressed a most sincere desire to help people as a health care professional," she said. "That sincerity has been present in his written and oral work. He has outstanding people skills and his desire to become a doctor is genuine."

This article was posted on: March 29, 2012

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