Richland Community College’s Taylor Vidmar is a writer for Huffington Post Teen Blog as well as MTV Founders, where she writes about what it’s like to be young, wanting more representation and the opportunity to be a part of something bigger.
Vidmar mainly advocates for community college attendance and the benefits of going to a two-year institution. She is also on the student advisory board for Michelle Obama’s “Better Make Room” campaign, which formally invited her to the White House to become a part of the national initiative.
Andria Modica: Tell me how you began writing for Huffington Post Teen Blog and MTV Founders.
Taylor Vidmar: I started writing for Huffington Post’s Teen Blog when I was in high school. I wrote a couple of pieces; not a whole lot. The editor of the Huffington Post Teen Blog moved to MTV News, so I was able to start writing pieces for them.
When I first started college, I applied to be an MTV Ambassador and got the job — I wrote an article every month for them. Also, as a campus ambassador, I contributed to roundtables about different issues that were going on and submitted my voice for an MTV Podcast. I really enjoyed being a campus ambassador. It’s definitely one of my favorite things that I’ve done so far.
AM: What were some of the topics that you wrote on for Huffington Post and MTV?
TV: A lot of the things I wrote, along with a lot of other teen college writers, were just personal essays. I wrote a lot about body image and some political topics. Since my first year of college was in 2016 during the time of the election, I wrote a lot about what was happening because it was so crazy.
I was really glad to be able to share my opinion during that time. Some of the pieces I wrote during were about struggling with body image and being a woman when Trump was saying such horrible things about women. My piece on this topic was actually read by someone who organized the “Be Beautiful” event.
I was able to fly out to Las Vegas and speak at a Town Hall event that was hosted by Dove and I got to speak about my piece on body image to a group of girls. That was really awesome because it allowed me to amplify my voice and my opinions.
AM: Can you expand a little more on the Dove “Be Beautiful” event you spoke at?
TV: Of course! I spoke to mainly local girls from the Las Vegas area. Myself, along with a panel of other women, talked about body image, empowerment and confidence.
I personally talked about body image because that is what my essay was on. I talked about how there’s an image of what a body is supposed to be like in media and how that can make you feel worse about yourself — [I spoke about] how to handle that and how to allow yourself to be confident.
That was another one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. It was so fun and I love speaking to people and being able to talk to younger girls and empower them. I really want to keep doing things like that.
AM: Can you talk about Michelle Obama’s “Better Make Room” campaign and what it was like being at the White House?
TV: Michelle Obama’s “Better Make Room” campaign started when [the Obamas] were still in office. It’s a college-access campaign to encourage people of color and first-generation students to have access to a college [education] and increase enrollment rates.
I applied to be on the student advisory board for the campaign because I’m a community college student, so I thought I could relate to this idea of trying to make college more accessible to students. I chose community college because I couldn’t afford the four-year state or private colleges. As a part of being chosen, we were all invited to the White House for the 2017 School Counselor of the Year Event.
I was able to also meet Michelle Obama, especially on that day because that was her final speech as the first lady in the White House. It was a really emotional speech — I cried a lot and a lot of the other students cried too. I think we all felt emotional because of the new administration that was coming in and we all kind of felt like we didn’t matter.
Michelle Obama was standing up there telling us we were important and that she believed we can get an education and empower ourselves to create the country we deserve. It was so inspiring that I left feeling like I wanted to continue to make a difference.
I put this feeling into my college’s College Signing Day, [which] I helped organize to help students get excited about college and to try to help erase the stigmas that community colleges face.
AM: What are some of your main arguments for choosing community college?
TV: My first main point I always make is that so many community college students choose that college because it’s the only thing they can access or afford. College is expensive and many students have to choose community college because they are low income and because of their socioeconomic backgrounds.
AM: Is there anything from the College Signing Day that you organized at your college that stuck with you?
TV: I just felt proud doing it. Especially the first year I did it, it was more like a transfer fair for students at my college to talk to other colleges about transferring. I was proud of that because it was always important to me to be able to increase access for community college students, and so I think I was able to give [students] more information about transferring while in college. I was also able to get the high school students excited about community college.
AM: Is there anything else you want to add as a last remark?
TV: I always like to talk about why I think community college is important. I just want more students to feel comfortable choosing community college as an option.