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Student Profile: Tayler Ulmer, C'2015

Tayler Ulmer, C'2015, a double major in anthropology/sociology and international studies, has been named a 2015 Marshall Scholar.  She is one of 40 scholars nationwide to receive the prestigious award this year, and the fifth Spelman student to receive it since the award's inception in 1954.

Marshall scholarships allow young Americans of high ability to pursue degrees in the United Kingdom. Ulmer plans to use her award to pursue a one-year master's degree in social anthropology of development at The School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. Read Marshall Scholar Media Release

Last year, Ulmer was among 59 college juniors nationwide to receive the $30,000 Truman award, and Spelman's second Truman Scholar since 1994. View a full list of Spelman's Truman Scholars 

As a Spelman Bonner Scholar, founder of the My Brother's Keeper mentorship program for young men, and a charter member of Girls Going Global headed by Spelman alumna Martice Sutton, Ulmer is dedicated to inspiring and nurturing the next generation of change agents.

The Chicago native  who was recently crowned 1st attendant to Miss Spelman 2014-2015, believes that global adventures are good for the soul. She is a curator for Travel Noire, a global  travel community; and the brainchild behind the popular blog, Black Girl Without Borders.

On Traveler Noire, Ulmer says:  "[I am] a black girl without borders. As a natural, black, Christian, female, broke, sociology-studying student, the compilation of all of these aspects of my identity have made for some pretty interesting adventures. From making sand castles on a private island to dancing to kwaito music at a shabeen in a Langa township, traveling has enabled me to explore new depths of global understanding."

Making Mentorship Matter

A finalist in Microsoft's YouthSpark Competition, Ulmer is seeking funding for her male mentorship program  inspired by her volunteer experience at KIPP STRIVE Academy.

Ulmer was selected as one of 20 YouthSpark finalists from a pool of 800 applicants, and recently competed to be one of  the five winners who will receive funding for her program, a trip to volunteer in Ecuador, and a Microsoft prize package. Winners will be announced Thursday, May 1.

Seizing 'Aha' Moments

"Volunteering at KIPP STRIVE Academy, a middle school in Atlanta, has made me confront the choice of being a just person or being just a person," says Ulmer in her YouthSpark profile. 

She continues, "At KIPP, I served as an art instructor. For one art project, I asked the students to draw a picture that represented college, however, the young boys in the class were unable to produce any artwork. After inquiring, I realized that many of these students lacked mentors and positive male role models.I recognized a disconnect between the young male students and their understanding of college. I know the opportunities that college offers, and I wanted to use the resources that I had as a college student to provide multiple illustrations of what college meant.In response,I founded My Brother’s Keeper,a mentorship program that serves to broaden the horizons of young males and help maximize their potential by exposing them to college and the importance of secondary education."

Life After Spelman

Ulmer's post-graduation plans include pursuit of a graduate degree in social policy.  She hopes to put her international experiences in education reform to use in addressing the various challenges in the Chicago school system.

“A career in academia and policy reform will allow me to help remedy the impact of education inequalities, as they relate to race and class, within social and educational institutions.”   Ulmer's passion for social policy reform is not unusual among Truman scholars as many go on to serve in public office, as public defenders, leaders of non-profit-organizations, or educators.

Truman Scholar Opportunities

In addition to the $30,000 recipients receive to help pay for graduate school, they also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at  premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. The Truman Scholars program is also seen by many as a stepping stone for other prestigious opportunities such as the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. This year's scholars participated in a leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and received their awards in a ceremony at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo.

Read more on Ulmer's early involvement in the Atlanta University Center