Jeff Taylor returns to get degree

Aug 23, 2013

Former Commodore star Jeffery Taylor has had quite the whirlwind of a year since he left Nashville in May of 2012.  From being drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats to having a very successful rookie campaign to being named to the NBA All-Summer League team a few weeks ago, the year has been one to remember on the floor for the forward from Norkopping, Sweden.

However, with all of the accolades and accomplishments, Taylor left Nashville in 2012 without one thing - he was two hours short of his undergraduate degree.

But, true to his word to his family and to Coach Stallings, Taylor graduated with a degree in Sociology at the end of the July term, and participated in the basketball program's inaugural Alumni Game festivities on August 3.  

"In May of last year, I started talking to Laurie Woods, a sociology professor that I worked with a lot while I was here, and we just talked about the two hours that I had left," said Taylor after the program's inaugural Alumni Game.  "I talked to her about finishing up, and that it was probably best to do it this summer, so I could have the June and July sessions to get it done.  Basically what it was was an independent research paper - it was a 12-page paper on Women and Gender and I just wrote about women and sports.  It took me about three months to do it."

Taylor used his time around NBA players during the season to ask them their opinions on the WNBA and Brittney Griner, an area that has seen a scarce amount of academic study and research.

"He actually wrote a very interesting paper about how NBA players view the WNBA and with Brittney Griner and how they would perceive her if she was in the NBA," said Woods.  "So, he interviewed people and got their perception, which I thought was a really good idea.  He was really good about texting me and keeping in touch with me about his schedule.  I was really impressed with that.

"He just had to register for a Directed Study, and then you have to put together a pretty extensive plan of readings.  We sat down and did that, but there was not that much academic material talking about women in sports, but we worked on that together and came up with a big stack of readings.  And then he had to do the readings, comment on them, and then put the paper together."

Taylor mentioned how much Woods, a sociology professor in the College of Arts and Science, would push him to stay on task and encourage him to keep up with the process.

"Ms. Woods helped me out a lot," said Taylor. "She would send me articles, books, and ideas about the project.  I can't thank her enough for helping me out and pushing me along.  It's hard man.  Once you leave school and you don't have to do any of that stuff, and to sit down and type out a paper and read all these articles is really hard.  It's hard to do it." 

"I'd like to think because he got tired of me nagging him, but he wanted to finish, and he did it all for himself, and maybe his Mom," said Woods.  "He didn't have to do it.  He has a career that is taking off but now he's a college graduate, which is huge.  And he's a Vanderbilt college graduate to boot and that makes me really proud."   

"I told Coach I was going to finish up," said Taylor.  "I'd be an idiot if I didn't finish up with only two hours left.  I told him I was going to finish up, it was just a matter of when and how I was going to do it.  I was going to finish."

Taylor flashed that same smile that Commodore fans are accustomed to seeing after a satisfying dunk or an assist to a teammate when asked how it felt to be finished and graduated.  

"It feels great," explained Taylor.  "Just being done and going on my profile on and it says everything is finished and I have green check marks everywhere.  It's a great feeling to be done."



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