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The Shade of Legacy

Adam Taylor is the first COTC student to receive the J. Gilbert Reese Next Generation Community Leadership Award.

NEWARK, Ohio, December 17, 2019 – Author Nelson Henderson once said, "The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit." It is said that community leader and philanthropist J. Gilbert Reese was someone whose actions to help create educational opportunities and improve the quality of life for those of Licking County planted so many trees that the community will be shaded by them for generations to come.

ReeseScholarship_2019_hr.jpgCentral Ohio Technical College (COTC) student Adam Taylor of Newark, a civil engineering technology major, is one of those who directly feels the cool breeze of being under a tree planted by Mr. Reese. He is the first COTC student to be chosen to receive the J. Gilbert Reese Next Generation Community Leadership Award. Taylor received the award, that includes a $2,000 scholarship, at the annual Scholarship Breakfast on November 7 for his volunteerism, community involvement and leadership — all qualities exemplified by Mr. Reese during his lifetime.

"Being the first COTC recipient of this award is humbling. I will work to live up to the legacy of Mr. Reese," Taylor said. "I hope to one day be able to give back as much as the Reese family has in our community."

J. Gilbert Reese was an unwavering supporter of education and is considered one of the founders of the Newark campus. In 1957, he and friends Howard LeFevre and Al Milliken advocated for the establishment of a regional campus of The Ohio State University in Newark. Later, recognizing the need for a technical institute to meet both student and employer needs in Licking County the three took the necessary steps to help establish COTC. In 2010, the Reeses called the community to action with the Next Generation Challenge scholarship campaign — a legacy-defining campaign — that raised $21 million in scholarship funds to benefit COTC and Ohio State Newark students. Mr. Reese died at the age of 93 last November, and in an effort to recognize his legacy COTC, Ohio State Newark and the Newark Campus Development Fund established a new leadership award that will be presented to one student of COTC and one student of The Ohio State University at Newark each year.

Taylor has begun planting his own trees — or daffodils — of legacy through leadership of the Society of Engineering Technology, a student organization at COTC that helps engineering technology students get involved on campus and in the community, complete community service projects and share the importance of STEM education. He recently led the group in a community service project of planting daffodils on campus. He also volunteers at college events such as College Aspire, the Egg Drop Competition, STEMfest at The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology and much more. It is even more impressive how Taylor has begun to exemplify the qualities of Mr. Reese considering before transferring to COTC from Ohio University's (OU) Lancaster campus, Taylor really had not quite grasped the impact of volunteering and leadership.

"Growing up I never understood the true importance of community service. I participated in the mandatory hours required by athletics or my school, but I didn't go out of my way to volunteer. This trend continued into my college career at OU. The school didn't push community service and I never felt the need to volunteer," he said. "When I transferred to COTC in January of 2018, I immediately noticed a difference in the two colleges. The faculty cared about me as a person at COTC."

A good relationship with a COTC faculty member led Taylor to the first volunteer experience he truly enjoyed: the annual Egg Drop Competition. Interacting with youth interested in STEM fields at the competition and other COTC events clarified to Taylor why community service is important.

"Being able to mentor these kids meant the world to me. Their passion and enthusiasm changed my outlook on community service. The most impactful moment of my community service so far was at College Aspire in summer 2019. We awarded a scholarship to a student that showed an interest in the engineering field, and the joy that overcame him inspired me to volunteer more," said Taylor.

He intends to continue planting his trees of legacy by doing community service that helps to spread the importance of and supports youth interested in STEM fields and leading others to do the same. After completing his associate degree he intends to earn a degree in construction management enabling him to literally help build the community.

Photo caption:  COTC student Adam Taylor, Sarah Reese-Wallace and fellow award-winner Ashley Moore, Ohio State Newark psychology major.

COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.