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May 5, 2016

Taylor Fisher: Portrait of a 2016 SVSU graduate

From: Emmett

High school: Yale

Major: political science

Future: law school

Taylor Fisher has built quite an email signature during her time as an SVSU student.

Honors student. Roberts Fellowship Program member. Former SVSU moot court director. Former parliamentarian for Student Association, SVSU’s student body government. Former SVSU Law Club vice president. Former co-editor of the campus political science journal, The Sovereign.

In May, the political science major’s determination will allow her to add “SVSU graduate” to that lineup of titles listed in her email signature. She expects to include “law school student” shortly thereafter.

“Starting last year, I was comparing my email signature to the email signatures of students I looked up to when I was a freshman,” said Fisher, of Emmett, a rural community with one stop sign in southeast Michigan.

“I remember thinking, ‘I want to have a lot of accomplishments listed in my signature, like they do.’ I think I got to where I want to be.”

By most measures of success — email signatures included — Fisher is a distinguished student compared to many four-year graduates. Yet she belongs in a different category. After all, her academic persistence led to her securing those accomplishments in three years.

After mixing 18-credit hour semesters with spring and summer semester classes, Fisher one year ago realized she was on pace to graduate in May 2016. Advisers cautioned her against taking that road, instead recommending she enroll in a light load of courses while studying for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

“But I was thinking, ‘I want to do this in three years,’” she said. “I wanted to see if I could do it.”

And she did — all while passing the LSAT in October 2015. As a result, she will be less than a month into her 21st year when she is honored during SVSU’s commencement ceremonies in May. Shortly after that, she plans to pick which law school to attend this fall.

Fisher credits faculty, staff and students for helping her meet her goals so efficiently.

“I had a lot of people who took the time to sit down with me, work out a timeline and help me finish in three years,” she said. “And it wasn’t just people helping me figure out my schedule.”

For instance, former SVSU President Eric Gilbertson was among the mentors who helped Fisher along the way. Gilbertson, a former Constitutional attorney who now serves as SVSU’s executive in residence, was among Fisher’s advisors for the university moot court team that competes nationally in simulated courtroom cases scored by a panel of judges.

“I don’t know another school where a president or former president will sit down with you, critique your courtroom argument and offer you life advice at the same time,” Fisher said. “Those are the kinds of opportunities you have at SVSU.”

Of those SVSU opportunities, moot court was among Fisher’s favorites. She served as the group’s student director in 2015-16, when the American Collegiate Moot Court Association ranked the program No. 17 in the U.S. In January, her team competed in the association’s national tournament at California State University-Long Beach.

“Moot court was such a bonding experience with the other students,” she said. “And it really helped me learn how to better my legal writing, get up in front of a whole courtroom of people, be aware of time and not fall on my feet. I think I will have learned the most at SVSU from being on moot court.”

She was inspired enough by the program that it became the basis for the thesis she wrote as part of her involvement with SVSU’s Honors Program. Her paper, “Benefits of undergraduate involvement in moot court programs,” explores how SVSU’s moot court program — formed relatively recently, in 2010 — has catapulted a number of alumni into successful positions at respected law schools.

Fisher said she hopes the paper finds life after her graduation.

“I’d like to see it get across the country and maybe lead to other schools creating their own moot court programs,” she said.

Speaking of life after graduation: Fisher won’t quite be finished at SVSU when the commencement ceremony concludes. As one of 10 students selected for the university’s Roberts Fellowship Program, an initiative that develops leaders, she will travel to Asia in May as part of the capstone experience.

“I’ve just done so many things since I’ve been here,” said Taylor, who, by the way, also is a third-generation owner of her family’s boarding kennel that trains Great Danes and Boxers for dog shows across the nation.

 “A lot of it went by so fast. I blinked and it was done.”