MURRAY, Ky. — As a member of the Racer Band, soon-to-be graduate Taylor Horton shares an important concept and inevitable process of performing in a 200-person marching band.

“We would start off the season relying on drill sheets to tell us where our spots were on the field,” Horton recalls. “It took hours of practice to learn the sets for each song, and it is truly rewarding the first time all 200 of us are able to do a halftime show relying solely on muscle memory — we hit the last note and the crowd goes wild. That feeling is indescribable and it just makes all those hours of practice worth it.”

To a larger extent, this is the journey of college.

Practice. Trial and error. Relying on a sheet or guide to find one’s way initially.

But — time after time, experience after experience — one becomes more comfortable. Confident. Ready to step out more. And then,  after a supreme moment of success and achievement, comes the realization that more moments such as this are to follow.

Horton will likely have that same feeling May 12 as friends, family and other guests roar with enthusiasm and appreciation for the class of 2018 inside the CFSB Center.

Horton is a wildlife and conservation biology major from Louisville. Her involvement at Murray State includes, to name a few organizations, the aforementioned Racer Band, the Racers track and field team and the radiant Racerettes. Horton is also a Marvin D. Mills Scholar and part of the Emerging Scholars Institute within the University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs. She has participated in both All Campus Sing and the Miss Black & Gold Pageant.

One of Horton’s biggest accomplishments as a Racer is her help in launching an amphibian and reptile outreach program, which uses live snakes, frogs and salamanders to teach the community about often misunderstood species.

“It’s been great to challenge stigmas and debunk myths usually pertaining to snakes,” Horton says. “Teaching people to respect these animals and understand their vital role in the ecosystem has been extremely rewarding and helped me to realize that I want to pursue a career as a conservation educator.”

Horton is quick to credit her family with her success, calling them “amazing” and “supportive.”

“They have been my rock over the last four years of school, and I am overjoyed to be able to make them proud,” Horton says.

While Horton is excited for what is to come, she admits some nervousness as one chapter closes before another begins. However, with her degree in hand, along with countless experiences as a Racer, Horton should enter this new chapter brimming with confidence.

“Earning a degree was important to me because I wanted to have a better opportunity at setting myself up for success in the future,” Horton says.

Commencement services at Murray State will take place May 12 in the CFSB Center with an undergraduate ceremony at 9 a.m. and a graduate and doctoral ceremony at 2 p.m. Tickets will not be required for either ceremony. Use #RacerGraduation on social media to share the commencement experience. Additional information is available at murraystate.edu/commencement.

Taylor Horton holds textbooks in her lap while wearing a graduation cap.
Taylor Horton of Louisville will graduate from Murray State University in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in wildlife and conservation biology. (photo courtesy of Jacob Pease)
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