By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Kindergarten is the beginning of the journey toward high school graduation.
One day a young Taylor Dickerson got ready as usual for another day during her first year of school. As she and her mother Terriari headed toward Keystone Elementary, they pair’s life as they knew it was changed forever by a sight just down the road. Terriari’s husband, Taylor’s father Larry Dickerson II was taken from this earth in a car accident.
“He had gotten into a wreck,” Taylor recalled. “He had a heart attack driving. He was on his way home and he crushed near our neighborhood. At the same time my Mom was taking me to school. We saw the accident.
“I think she realized it was his car and saw the police,” she continued. “I remember her with the officers and me getting passed onto my uncle so he could take me to school. I remember coming home and wondering where he was. They told me what happened. That was about it. Then a couple of weeks later we learned my Mom was pregnant with another child.”
Since that day, Terriari has raised her two daughters Taylor and Trinitee. The baby girl’s name meaning a bond of three formed between daughters and mother.
With family, friends, educators and a guiding spirit, Taylor has achieved many milestones in her journey toward her graduation including Salutatorian of the Class of 2017 at Millington Central High School.
Dickerson will be giving a speech thanking all those who helped her reach the stage at 7 p.m. May 18 on the MCHS Football Field.
“I never thought I would be like No. 2 in my class, but she really influenced me in my life,” Dickerson said of her mother. “Because when I was 5, my Dad passed away. Then she found out she was going to have my sister. So she had to raise two children on her own.
“She always pushed me to be the best I could be so go somewhere in life,” she continued. “She actually told me about engineering which is what I want to do. She thought it would be something I would like. She pushed me to pursue that career. And my Aunt Courtney helped us a lot. She recently set me up with her job to where I have an internship through an engineering company this summer.”
Post graduation, Dickerson plans to attend the Historic Black College/University Tuskegee in Alabama to major in Mechanical Engineering.
With Tuskegee her next stop, Dickerson started her education at Keystone and Lucy elementaries. Then it was onto Woodstock Middle School before becoming a Millington Trojan.
While at MCHS Dickerson kept busy with BETA Club, Millington Choir, Interact, Science Club, Robotics and serving as president of the National Honor Society. Scoring a 26 overall on the ACT, Dickerson nearly mastered the English portion with a 30 making her eligible for the MCHS 30-Plus Club.
A lot of Dickerson’s interest and achievements reminded her family members of Larry.
“He worked with electronics,” she recalled. “My Mom tells me all the time I look like my Dad. My Mom said when I smile it reminds her of him. And they say I have so many of his mannerisms.”
Being so young when he passed, Dickerson didn’t fully understand the circumstances of that morning at first. But overtime she came to a level of acceptance.
“At this age now I really don’t remember much of him,” she acknowledged. “I did understand. My Mom would tell me and since I realized he wasn’t there I put two and two together that something had happened.
“Of course he has been a guiding force in my life,” Dickerson added. “I always feel like he’s with me. He’s always been there.”
Larry’s spirit might have been guiding his wife as well as she continued to support their daughters. Earlier in the school year MCHS Senior Counselor Georgette Farmer hosted a day for the parents to come witness the announcements of the rankings. Terriari was there to hear Taylor’s name with the title Salutatorian.
“She’s always been proud of the both of us, Trinitee and me,” Taylor said. “I guess in that moment she was proud to see that all of her hard work had paid off pushing me to be the best I could be. She’s always telling me she’s so proud of me to be where I am. She’s happy to support me in anyway. She always tells me, ‘As long as you do your part, I’ll do my part.’
“She always tells me that I am a perfectionist,” she continued. “So it would be her always pushing me. Her pushing me to be the best that I could be kind of turned me into a perfectionist. In my eyes, I see I have to perfect everything so it can pay off.”
Taylor’s hard work has paid off with her heading to the historic Tuskegee to prepare for a career making prosthetics.
“My older cousins who have gone off to college and attended HBCUs,” she noted. “They were extremely happy to hear that I was going to an HBCU. They’ve always helped me out to with learning new things.”
Dickerson said that same support system will remain in place during the college years to help her reach her next set of goals. And she knows her mother will be near, her father’s spirit will still linger and she will continue to be motivated for her baby sister.
“It’s a gratifying feeling to say, ‘I finally did it,’” she said. “But I’m not done yet. I have to go off to college. But it is kind of a relief thing to say I did it while in high school.
“I want to be a role model for somebody like my sister,” Dickerson concluded. “I want to be a role model for her because she needs somebody. I tell her, ‘No matter where you come from, no matter what situation you go through, you can always go somewhere as long as you put forward the effort.’ That’s the legacy I want to leave here for folks at Millington too. No excuses.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.