Name: Tailar Brown
Major: Chemistry/African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) Minor/Forensic Science Certificate
Programs and activities: McNair Scholars; Fearless Leadership Institute; Mentor, Texas Interdisciplinary Plan (TIP) Scholars; Haven Student Fellowship; Historian (freshman year) and President (sophomore year), Jester West Residence Hall Council; Senator, University Residence Hall Association; UNCF STEM Scholar; Undergraduate Research Assistant, Energy Systems Transformation Group, LBJ School of Public Affairs
Honors and Accolades: Medallion for Early Graduation, Department of Chemistry; Outstanding Mentor Award, TIP Scholars; University Leadership Network; Contestant, Miss Black UT Pageant
Back in high school, Tailar Brown created a time capsule with a note that said, “I want to attend The University of Texas and major in Chemistry.” Just a few years later, she accomplished that goal—and in record time! In 2019 she completed her coursework a semester early, and now she’s ready to celebrate her accomplishments with the Class of 2020 this Saturday at the university-wide commencement ceremony.
We caught up with the Grand Prairie native to learn more about her experiences on campus—and how the McNair Scholars program helped her gear up for graduate school.
How have you benefitted from your experience in the McNair Scholars program?
Honestly joining the McNair program here at UT was a huge blessing. I am so happy that I actually listened to my best friend’s advice and applied when I did. I have been involved since the beginning of my Junior year and have grown so much from this experience. I found that there were so many things involved in applying to graduate school, but with that there are just as many resources. I was provided with the support of great faculty members such as Dr. J. Brown, Dr. Dieter, and Dr. Madkins (and others), and had the opportunity to attend academic conferences and make friends with other students from McNair programs throughout the nation. The program provided me with tools to be successful, not only in applying to grad school but serving as a Ph.D. candidate at any institution where I will continue my education.
You were very active in campus life! In addition to McNair Scholars, what programs did you most enjoy?
I have been involved with the Texas Interdisciplinary Plan (TIP) Scholars program since the beginning of my freshman year here. TIP truly was one of my favorite programs at UT. The program as a whole was very supportive and always super positive, which is something I have always appreciated. While participating in the program, I had the opportunity to serve as a mentor for three years, and it truly was one of my favorite experiences as an undergrad. I truly love all of mentees and the amazing friends that I made through the program.
Overall, I made it a priority to join organizations that really focused on supporting student success and promoting diversity and inclusion. As a member of the Black UT community, I think that programs like TIP, McNair and the Fearless Leadership Institute are crucial as they really helped me to feel welcome at UT and find a community 200 miles away from home.
What would be your advice for students who are on the fence about going to grad school?
I feel that you have nothing to lose by pursuing a graduate education; this is just one more door that can open many other opportunities for you and your future. The best piece of advice that I was given about grad school was, “It is about endurance not speed or strength.” I interpreted that as it is not about how fast you complete a task, or whether or not you are the most academically inclined person in the world, but you are a person who is passionate about a particular subject and continues to push toward your goal because of that passion and drive.
Where do you see yourself after graduation?
My goal is to volunteer, gain additional transferable skills and then complete my graduate school applications for the following year. I intend to pursue my Ph.D. with the hopes of becoming a professor in the future.
What will you miss most about UT when you graduate?
There are many things that I miss about the university—from friends and faculty to the campus itself. I was always aware that one day I’d have to leave UT, but nothing truly prepared me for that moment. There are times when I just want to randomly go to the TIP office (FAC), walk down Speedway, or just stare at the blue doors at Welch. I will miss the community as a whole, as it is unmatched.
Have you gained any new insights, new skills or new perspectives while navigating this global pandemic?
I am currently doing well. I miss all of the activities that I’d normally participate in (that don’t include me being in the house) and seeing my family and friends face-to-face. Many people are calling this the “new normal,” although I don’t think this will ever feel completely normal, if I’m being transparent. However, I am sure that there is light at the end of the tunnel and things will get better with time.
My plans to work in industry and volunteer have been halted at the moment, so in turn I have used this time to do the things that I have put off over time such as redecorating or starting my YouTube channel. Overall, I am remaining optimistic through it all and just grateful for the things that the Lord has given us that we often take for granted.
Anything else you would like to add?
My mom and brother have been my biggest support through all of this, in addition to my other family members. I am immensely grateful for this chapter in my life.