Page Content
Taylor Andrews, predoctoral student at Mayo Clinic

February 19, 2024

By Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science staff

During Black History Month, Black learners share their experiences of empathy, support, and belonging at Mayo Clinic. This story features Taylor Andrews, a predoctoral student at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

Taylor Andrews, predoctoral student at Mayo Clinic School of Biomedical Sciences in Jacksonville, Florida, shares her story, what led to Mayo Clinic, and how she found belonging here.

Reflections from Taylor Andrews

Growing up, my family moved around a lot to support my father's academic journey. I was born in Georgia while my dad was finishing undergrad.

My family then moved to Michigan while my dad was completing his Ph.D. in economics. We then moved to Massachusetts while my dad did his postdoctorate studies at Harvard.

At the start of middle school, we moved to North Texas while my dad was a professor. I say I am from Texas because I have lived there the longest, and it, along with Georgia, feels the most like home to me.

Seeing how much joy academia provided my dad influenced me to pursue a similar journey. I moved to Ohio for undergrad at Oberlin College, where I became fascinated with neuroscience and the many unknowns of the brain.

After earning my bachelor's in neuroscience and psychology, I joined Mayo Clinic where I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Translational and Regenerative Nephrology Lab helmed by LaTonya Hickson, M.D. and co-mentored by Takahisa Kanekiyo, M.D., Ph.D.

Belonging to me looks like finding people who encourage you to become the best version of yourself. As a Black and queer person, belonging can look like my friends inviting me to poetry or open mic nights so I can vicariously live through someone's art.

Belonging is the tea or coffee I grab with friends throughout the workday, where we mutually ensure that we are taking care of all dimensions of ourselves, not just the intellectual. Belonging is the warm fuzzy feeling I get when my mom tells me she loves me. 

Professionally, belonging is my colleagues challenging me to think deeper and more critically about the topic I am researching. I have a deep sense of belonging in the lab I am a part of.

Often, my lab mates can anticipate my needs and act upon them. My lab mates celebrate my wins and lift me up when I experience downtimes. For that and much more, I am incredibly grateful. 

The highlights of my experience at Mayo would have to be fostering community.

My first year at Mayo, I joined the LGBTI student resource group and became very involved with the leadership team. We have held several conferences about being LGBTI in STEM. I am one of the co-chairs and am thrilled about the projects we have planned for this year. I am incredibly grateful to the LGBTI Mayo Employee Resource Group for its continuous support and mentorship in these adventures.

Another space in which I am so happy to see blossom is the community of Black scholars here at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. We are actively creating and maintaining an environment that allows scholars to be vulnerable, to lean on one another, and to have fun while in graduate school. 

I am blessed to have role models here at Mayo, including, but not limited to, Dr. Hickson, Dr. Kanekiyo and Renaldo Blocker, Ph.D.

When my dad passed away in May 2023, I had an outpouring of support from my role models, especially Dr. Hickson. When I was ready to return to work and complete my oral qualifying exam for Ph.D. candidacy, she often checked in on me, offered listening ears and a shoulder to cry on, and words that still provide comfort today.

When I am nervous, she is ready to quell any notion that I am not prepared to handle it. Having a mentor who truly looks out for you, believes in your ability, and sees you for you now and your future potential is more than I could have asked for from graduate school. 

I am excited about the many strides made to create a sense of belonging for Black staff and students here at Mayo. I am certain that these efforts will continue to pay off as more Black staff join Mayo and our community grows.