Taylor Gaskins.
Taylor Gaskins.

Grinnell Alum Creates Faith-Based Magazine, Aims for Career in Divinity and Law

Winter 2020 | D.C.

Taylor Gaskins, a 2020 Grinnell College Posse graduate, has emerged as a leader in education and faith both on campus and in the world beyond. With a degree in English and Spanish, Taylor is the founder of faith-based magazine “Hope in the Darkest Days” and hopes to pursue advanced study in divinity and law.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Taylor has been motivated to uplift her community from a young age. After losing her father when she was seven years old, Taylor says she leaned on her faith to carry her through difficult times. She credits her success to a strong relationship with her extended and blended family and also to ministry work, which later became central to her purpose and academic motivation.

“Posse connected me with my top school choice and prepared me to go with others, offering me a sense of community.”

Taylor learned about The Posse Foundation as a student at D.C.’s Schools Without Walls High School. She recalls a memorable annual school-wide award ceremony where she witnessed seniors applauded as new Posse Scholars, older peers who were known for their leadership at the high school. Years later, Taylor became a Posse Scholar herself after being nominated by a school counselor.

“I always knew I wanted to attend a small liberal arts college,” says Taylor, who adds that she felt immediate love for Grinnell College. “Posse connected me with my top school choice and prepared me to go with others, offering me a sense of community.”

Once at college, Taylor soon realized that many students were dealing with personal hardships. At Grinnell’s annual PossePlus Retreat in 2018, discussions around the theme of “Hope, Hate, and Race in the United States” inspired Taylor to spread a message of hope in hard times; she first created “Hope in the Darkest Days” as a student publication on campus.

“The small moments when I see people touched by our messages make this work worthwhile.”

Taylor emerged as the leader of a passionate team that published the magazine at Grinnell. “Hope in the Darkest Days” has included scriptures, poetry, photographs and testimonies from the student community. The magazine includes both faith-based and secular resources for students who may be seeking help and encouragement.

“People have approached me to share how much the magazine has helped them,” Taylor says. “The small moments when I see people touched by our messages make this work worthwhile.”

Now as a college graduate, Taylor has continued to reach her peers and community by expanding “Hope in the Darkest Days” into a website that is drawing readers beyond Grinnell.

Taylor is currently a youth ministry leader and administrative assistant at Gethsemane Baptist Church, and a remote communications development intern at the Jesus Center of Chico, California. She is now applying to divinity schools that have corresponding law schools, with the goal of receiving consecutive degrees in the two fields. She aims to continue her community work in the future with a career as a minister and civil rights attorney.