Marcus Taylor Before and After Reynolds

Marcus Taylor smiling in four poses.I met Marcus Taylor in late October 2019 when he was just beginning his educational journey at Reynolds. During our interview he told me: “I have thrived in the Reynolds atmosphere of small classes. I am truly grateful to have been given the space to explore my talents and interests. I tell others, if you want to go to college, and you want to work, there are opportunities right here at your fingertips. If you can afford those expensive gym shoes, you can afford to go to college.” (Read the original blog story here.)

Marcus was, and is, an impressively hard working individual. He’s a veteran who’s been to war, he’s had several careers, he’s worked long hours, and he’s struggled to make a living. As an adult student he was well acquainted with tough assignments. “You can’t whine and complain that the work is too hard,” he told me back in 2019, “you’ve just got to dig in and do it, you’ve got to do the hard stuff . . . I chuckle when they [young students] huff and puff about getting a tough homework assignment. Paying bills, and fighting for your life, now THOSE are tough assignments.”

Three years and a global pandemic later, Marcus graduated from Reynolds in the spring of 2022 with his degree in Construction Management. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Marcus again shortly after commencement. We talked about graduation, his upcoming marriage, his Reynolds experience, and what was coming next in his life. 

Marcus graduated on a Sunday. The very next day, Monday, he started getting job offers from architectural firms. “I don’t know how they knew I had graduated, don’t know who informed them, but it’s good. All good,” he told me, shaking his head as if he was still didn’t believe his good fortune. “My number one offer is from a home builder. I’ve also got some independent offers to do layouts and blueprints.” Given Marcus’s entrepreneurial spirit, an independent offer would be the “kind of suit that fits him just right,” as he would say.

As if a degree wasn’t enough, Marcus has his own line of personal care products, 9th Wonder Premium Products – soaps, body butter, beard products, lotions, shampoos and body wash for men and women - he developed in 2014 when he was a barber. “I didn’t really take it all seriously until some of my clients told me I should take it to the next level.” With Marcus’s slow and steady persistence his line has taken off. Since our last interview, he has established a partnership with a major gym chain and sales are rolling. In addition to clients in Virginia, his products are selling in Texas, Florida, and Georgia.

And if he’s not busy enough, Marcus just got married to the girlfriend who has been his supporter, encourager, and his challenger every step of the way. In 2019 she was the one who saw his engineering talent and urged him to come to Reynolds. She is the one who then urged him to speak up in our interview about his life and his experience at Reynolds. Both she and Marcus’s daughter are Reynolds graduates. Marcus’s girlfriend, now wife, has three degrees, his daughter has two. They challenged him to get his first degree, now they are challenging him to keep up with them and to continue his education.

The future?

“My goal,” Marcus says, “is to establish more residual income to buy back my time. We don’t have a lot of time on this earth. I’ve never been one to waste what I’ve been given. I want to use my time to build my dreams. I’ve got a lot of moving parts in my life. That’s the way I want to keep it.” Several years and a pandemic haven’t changed this side of Marcus one bit.

What one thing did Reynolds do to keep you motivated and on track to finishing your degree?

“Two words: Mr. Bass,” Marcus pauses, “Mr. Bass,” he repeats. “That guy is one of the most helpful, understanding, positive, funny, professional, hardworking people I’ve ever known. He encouraged me. He reached out during covid when things got messy. Classes got cancelled, but he kept reaching out to me, letting me know what was happening. He made our assignments flexible so we could get them done when things weren’t going well. He told me what he saw in me, and he inspired me to find that talent in myself. He was the deciding factor. Without him, I probably would have let it all go.”

“I remember one time I left my wallet in his class at Parham. He came all the way over to Church Hill on 25th Street to bring it to me while I was working on a construction job. He did not have to do that. Now, THAT’S a great guy.”

Advice to other students?

“Focus. Focus. And, focus. If you focus, almost anything is possible. If you hit a roadblock, it’s not the end of the road. You’ve gotta focus on your destination instead whatever is trying to stop you. Focus.”

Three years and a global pandemic? Just small roadblocks. It's all perspective. With Marcus’s focus, as he says, “it’s only blessing, after blessing, after blessing.”