Meet Cabrini’s first lady

photo by Hope

Ever since 2014, President Donald Taylor, most commonly referred to as “DT,”  began leading Cabrini as the first male president. He can often be seen on campus at different events, meals and just walking around. But over the last few years, many have wondered who DT’s counterpart was.

Who is the woman behind the president? Who is Cabrini’s first lady?

Lechia Taylor, wife of DT, has been in his life for many years.

“We actually went to high school together but I didn’t know him until graduation night. I knew his name, I knew he was a new student that came when we were sophomores, but I didn’t really get a chance to have a conversation with him until at a party on graduation night,” Lechia said.

Growing up in Northwest Tennessee, she was very close with her family and friends.

Lechia did not know what she wanted to do after high school. She decided that until she figured out what she wanted to do, she was not going to attend college. She ended up working at a sewing factory in the meantime. She felt that the only experience she had at the time was in home economics and felt being there was right.

But not for long. The January after she graduated from high school, she decided that she was going to college and joined DT.

“I attended what was, at the time, Memphis State University, same place that Don did,” she said. “But I didn’t really just want to jump in. He’s probably said this many times, but no one else in our family had really gone to college. We didn’t even really know how to start, you know, with the whole process. We only had one counselor in our entire school, who was not very good. So thankfully Don had the initiative to do most of what he needed to do.”

In college, Lechia worked hard to achieve the prerequisites that she needed to go to nursing school.

She has always been interested in the medical field. When she was younger, she would help her mother take care of her grandmother or sit with her in the hospital.

“I was always surrounded by medical professionals. I just kind of became interested through being surrounded by that all the time,” she said. “I first thought I wanted to do respiratory therapy but then I decided to do nursing because it was more broad and I knew I could do more with that. I credit my grandmother for getting me into the nursing profession.”

The nursing school she attended was only for 27-months year round. She did not receive a bachelor’s degree in nursing but a diploma.

Lechia and DT lived in Memphis for about 10 years before they moved to Illinois where DT was offered a job. They had a nice life in Illinois. That is where their son was born and over the 22 years they were living there, they had made many friends.

While living in Illinois, DT mentioned a job opening for the college. Lechia did not know what Cabrini was at the time.

“The only thing I knew about Cabrini was the Cabrini Greens, which was a bad housing project in Chicago. It took a while because when I kept hearing Cabrini I kept thinking about the Cabrini Greens project,” she said. “That is the only thing I really knew about it.”

With having very little knowledge about Cabrini, Lechia did not know where she was going to end up living after DT agreed to take the job.

“I really never pictured myself on the East Coast because when you are looking for a position like that you never know where you are going to end up because it all depends where the openings are and if it is the right timing. We didn’t know where we were ending up so it was kind of like a free-for-all,” she said.

It was a really hard transition for her.

“The hardest thing, which is still hard for me today, is giving up the friends that I made. It took a while to build a friend base there,” she said. “My family, when we lived in Illinois, was 500 miles away and now they are a thousand. That is a big thing I feel like I miss out on because we are so far from them.”

Even though it was hard to leave her friends behind and be farther from her family, Lechia adapted fairly quickly to the Radnor area.

“It was pretty similar to when we were living in Illinois. People and the area were all pretty similar,” she said. “But from where I grew up, no. It was a total 180, which was the same feeling when we moved to the Chicago area.”

Becoming a part of the Cabrini community was really enjoyable for Lechia. She feels that Cabrini is filled with many opportunities to do different things and tries to go to as many events and be involved on campus as much she can.

“We try to go to sporting events. We are big basketball fans so we go to them. Now that we have a baseball team we will be going to those games,” she said. “There are events here that are just specific for the college and I try to go to them yearly. It is things like that I try to attend as much as I can between working on what we have going on in our life and my son’s school and things like that.”

Lechia is even taking college courses again.

“I haven’t had a college class since 1999, so it is definitely a new world from what I was used to,” she said. “I wanted to do something totally different from nursing. Everyone says are you getting your bachelors in nursing and I am like no. Kind of been there, done that; I want to look at something else. Right now my major is business.”

Not only does she like to be involved on campus but to be involved and help her son as much as she can. In her free time, she also really loves to listen to music.

“Music can take you either way. It can lift you up or it is great to listen to when you are not feeling so great. I think it is a healing factor,” Lechia said. “I love music and all kinds of genres that I listen to on a daily basis.”

Reflecting over on her life, her husband has been one of her biggest inspirations.

“If it wasn’t for him and me getting to know him after graduation, I probably would not have ended up in college. I think he has pushed me to limits that I would have never have pushed myself to. As far as life ambition, I would have to say it was him.”

She has felt very welcome during her time at Cabrini. Everybody was really welcoming and helpful when she was not sure of things. She even joined a book club with some of the Cabrini faculty.

“I just think that is very helpful when you come far away, we had over an 800 mile move, and you are starting new again, that it is really helpful to have that welcoming environment and I appreciate that,” Lechia said.

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