05th Sep2011

Mark Taylor, II – Florida A&M University

by Staff

“…the programs it had to offer, its notoriety among my professional industry and the family-like atmosphere are what made me sign the dotted line on FAMU’s application.”

C/O Dec. 2008

Major: Public Relations


Personal Contacts:


How did you decide to become a student at Florida A&M University?

Prior to conducting my research, my perception of HBCUs was flawed. In all honesty, my original intentions were not to attend an HBCU because I felt I would not have attained a level of diversity in meeting people and engaging in various experiences of different cultures. However, there came a time when I decided to change my major to Public Relations (from Marketing) and after doing research on the best schools in the region I was living in, I was astounded to hear that FAMU was one of the top choices.


FAMU’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communications where Public Relations is housed (Image Courtesy of FAMU.edu)


My HBCU had a state-of-the art newsroom and received industry awards for journalism and public relations that far exceeded many of the other institutions within the region. Soon after I discussed my decision with some friends in the Florida area, I found that many of them had ties to FAMU and they decided to invite me to a few socials and networking events with FAMU Alumni. I saw that they were like a family. Being thousands of miles away from home in the Midwest, I was excited to get that feeling all over again. I went to the Florida Football Classic and later visited the campus grounds to see the faculty and learn about what it had to offer and FAMU scored even more points. So en essence, the programs it had to offer, its notoriety among my professional industry and the family-like atmosphere are what made me sign the dotted line on FAMU’s application.


What professors at Florida A&M University left the most impression upon you as a student and/or person? What did they do that continues to mean so much to you to this day?

They all had a positive impact on me as an individual … even those professors that I didn’t like or that I had bad dealings with. If I had to say which professors at FAMU left the most impression on me as a student, I’d have to say both Dr. LaRae Donnellan and Professor Gina Kinchlow. I was excited to attend their classes in public relations and enjoyed demonstrating what I learned to them and my peers.

Dr. Donnellan showed me the value of teamwork, ethics and instilled public relations methods of success through proper measurement and procedures.

Professor Kinchlow brought a down-to-earth approach to her lessons and a no-nonsense culture in the classroom and the student-run PR firm she advised. It hasn’t been very long since I graduated, but both of their hard lessons, gestures and quotations stick with me to this very day along with several other public relations alumni from the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication (SJGC).

In fact, it’s often through their lessons that I am the distinction between what is the better choice among others in my field. Those professors and SJGC itself created an atmosphere that I, along with other alumni, can’t forget and can always seem to bond with even after graduating.


What is the story of your “experience” at Florida A&M University given its heralded status as a stellar and prestigious HBCU?

My experience at FAMU started with building relationships with many FAMUans from the moment I became interested in the university until now. I was always in-the-know and I was always a point of contact for information and getting the word out about exclusive things and effective ideas. FAMU gave me the opportunity to network and successfully compete for national and regional industry awards as a student. My leadership as a student in the FAMU Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, the FAMUAN newspaper , PRodigy Public Relations Firm, and other student organizations and media were priceless and provided real-world opportunities to work with great businesses, well-known government agences and celebrities.


PRodigy Public Relations Firm FAMU Mark Taylor II
PRodigy Public Relations Firm operated by FAMU Students and lead by Gina Kinchlow; Mr. Taylor, II was serving as the Account Supervisor for the Florida Football Classic when this picture was taken [Image Courtesy of FAMU]


Coupled with my own talent, the university provided me the tools and the chance to demonstrate my capabilities. I left the university being one of few students during my time who received recognition on various levels on a yearly basis for my accomplishment. I was able to produce something … not just memorize and regurgitate things like other students did. FAMU gave me an understanding and the ability to apply classroom lessons to real-life situations successfully. That is my story. That is my legacy. And I look proudly at what I’ve done and what students and graduates of FAMU continue to do mold the world into a better place.


Where are the spots to go to if you wanted to cuddle with your boy or girlfriend?

I was single during my time at FAMU. I didn’t have time for a relationship and those whom I had interest in didn’t seem to understand my level of involvement in the various activities I engaged in. So any cuddling was done in the confines of my own home during limited free time.


What were the best restaurants on and near campus? Which dishes did you enjoy the most?

Oh wow… seems simple but you’re asking for a lot for a foodie, but in the interest of time and space, I’ll give you just a few. Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille for a nice dining atmosphere, date, celebration or just to get some good Cajun inspired food. One of my favorites is the Shrimp & Scallop Oleans with a Grit Cake topped w/ Tasso Sauce; California Chicken Grill/Chubby’s, or Wing Zone for that late night snack or after-the club munchies rush, and Olean’s for that affordable, great-tasting, down-to-earth soul food cooking that you can’t really get on campus for breakfast (or even lunch or dinner). Olean’s made me say “I love the South” several times because of the food and the friendly atmosphere of the lady that owns the restaurant.


What were the chants heard most often at the sporting events?

The hiss (gesture and sound) … Which is indescribable by words.
Start at the 2:01 Mark to see the Hiss (Gesture and Sound)


There are several others which depend on whether you’re in the infamous Marching 100, a true Rattler or just a FAMU supporter.


Who was your College crush?

I don’t really think I had one.


How did you overcome your nervousness about going to college?

Did I have nervousness about college? Seriously? That’s funny. I was ready for college when I was a junior in high school. I couldn’t wait to graduate and leave the boring structure and rules of high school. For me, college was a chance to learn what I wanted, meet new people, and experience new things so I was excited, not nervous, about attending college.


What was your major? and Why did you choose it?

My major was Public Relations and I chose it because I’ve always liked writing, meeting new people, speaking publicly or for others and being a conduit of information. Relationship-building is something that just came easy to me as I’ve had many friendships and associates throughout life.


What has been your proudest moment @ Florida A&M University?

My proudest moment at FAMU was when I had completed my public relations Capstone. There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears that went into that presentation and it was more than JUST a presentation. If you didn’t pass this, then you didn’t graduate, regardless of how many credits you had or classes you passed. It was a culmination of all the work I’d done in my collegiate career, a mock interview, and a “prove-why-you-should-move-on” test all the same. I really hadn’t realized all that I’d done nor what impact it truly had until I gave that presentation. My review panel was tough but they rewarded me with great remarks and recommendations upon passing.


What was your saddest moment @ Florida A&M University?

Graduating from FAMU was probably the saddest moment I had at FAMU. It’s ironic, but I didn’t like the idea of leaving that family and all the great times that college gave me.

I knew it was all over and there was no repetition of such a wonderful experience. Seeing everyone’s relatives give them words of advice (even at graduation and other events) and participating in the School of Journalism’s Graduation Reception really made the eyes water … and that hadn’t happened in a while.


What did you pledge? And why? And if not, why not?

I didn’t pledge anything and it’s only because it was best for me to pursue joining a fraternity after graduation. I was involved in too much as it was and joining probably would have taken a toll on my grades (as I wasn’t about to give up on all the other things I was involved in as a leader or member). Also, when I told my mentor that I was interested in his organization, it was a bit too late to consider going through the process and also try to graduate on time.


How were you positively active on campus? (e.g. clubs, SGA, etc.)

I had my hand in everything either as a leader, member or volunteer from student media (which was always everywhere on campus), to professional organizations and SGA.

Involved was my middle name and if you didn’t know me, you knew of me because I interviewed you, partnered with your organization for something, or reviewed your information for publication.


Where was the “yard” located?

The “yard” was located on “The Set.” It is near our student organizations building, a few administration buildings and some dorms. The Set was the center of everything, from being a fashion show to a marketplace of events, commerce and political foregrounds.

Think of it as a movie set, which I’m sure you can imagine is made up of a lot of complexity and where the show must go on.


What and where were the historical places on campus?

Some historical places on campus include Black Archives Museum, Gaither Gym, the Set, and (although newly renovated) Tucker Hall.


Gaither GymFAMUMarkTaylorIIPublicRelationsInterview
Image Courtesy of Picasa


Are there any ghost stories involving buildings or spots on campus?

Ghost stories? Hah! Not that I’ve ever heard of. However, the Paddyfoote dormitory complex has been said to be pretty “creepy”…


How many “firsts” did you have at college ? What were they? (e.g. first road trip, first job interview, first love, first “F or A”, etc.)

Had a lot of firsts but they were more on recognition type things or personal firsts than funny occurrences.


If you could speak to those family members that have risen but that live forever through you, what words would you speak?

I’d probably say: “See, I didn’t become a statistic. Thank God that I made it, I’m holding on to the lessons you’ve taught me and carving my path in history.”


When and how did you discover your passion in life?

Depends on if you are talking about my passion for cooking and eating or my passion for videogames and the world of fantasy. I don’t even remember when I first learned how to cook. I’ve always casually watched different people cook like my mom and grandparents. It wasn’t until I was somewhere between the ages of 10-12 that I started cooking on my own. When I got my own video game console at about 8 years old I was enthusiastic.


Whats your take on life (in the philosophical sense)?

Somewhere between a utilitarian theory and Socratic philosophical sense when it comes to everyday decisions, but if I had to say something specific about life I’d say: Have fun, but make your mark in history.

Life just isn’t worth living if you don’t have something that you’ll always be remembered and respected for.


If you could only speak two sentences to the youth coming after you what would you say?

I made mistakes and so will you, but learn from those mistakes. Find meaning and have purpose in everything that you do because people are always thinking, supporting or pointing.

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Graduate of an HBCU and true believer in HBCUs being the best at giving a well-rounded education academically and personally.




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