K A M S I Features April Walker-Taylor
April Walker Taylor is a dynamic women. She holds the title of Mrs. Montgomery County and recently won the title of Mrs. Pennsylvania. Continue to read to learn about her passion, and future goals.
Tell us about yourself.
Hi I’m April Walker-Taylor, I’m a wife, a mother, daughter, and a sister and all those wonderful things. I live in Montgomery County with my husband and my children. I am a licensed behavioral specialist, by trade. I’m licensed with the State Board of Medicine, which gives me the privilege of working with kids that are on the autism spectrum. But I can also work with children who have other mental health diagnoses’. I have many hobbies, one of them is interior decorating. I do like to write, I like to walk, and I like to try new food. I am running in the Mrs. Pennsylvania America pageant. Currently, I am the local title holder, I’m Mrs. Montgomery County that’s my local title and that affords me the opportunity to run in the upcoming Mrs. Pennsylvania America Pageant, which is Saturday, June 18th, in Philadelphia, at Terra Hall University of Arts. I’m very excited about that.
What are you most passionate about?
I’m passionate about helping people. And I said it a certain way because people don’t necessarily consider me the social butterfly, but I am passionate about helping people. I come from a helping background; my parents they have a school, they’ve had a school for over 30 years here in the city. My husband, he is a vice principle at a charter school, dealing with children. My oldest daughter she is a dean at a charter school. But we give a lot back to the community, we volunteer, we do food drives, we volunteer at food banks, we do the whole holiday helping at a shelter; we do that as a family, so that's what I’m passionate about and that has meant different things to me over the course of my life.
I have a princess in training program for young girls. I’ve written a book, coauthored with my daughter, called “The Princess on the Inside” that’s one of the books that I’ve written. So, anything where I can help, whether its girls oryoung women, I mentor a lot of young women in Philadelphia. That’s why with me and my profession, being a licensed behavioral specialist, it was very natural to me. My platform as Mrs. Montgomery County is autism awareness. I didn’t have to think about it, I didn’t have to say ‘oh what is going to be my platform?’ because I believe your platform should be something that you are very passionate about and even though I have the connection to the community, to the autism community, I’m connecting with them on whole different level. I’m meeting with parents for chat and coffee sessions, just hearing about some of their joys and some of their challenges, and talking to them about some of their needs and how I can best support them. I’ve been to several organizations that service the autistic population here in the city. I’ve been to several schools, several veteran events, I’ve done a lot, I’ve done so much since I was awarded the local title Mrs. Montgomery County, since March 4th. I’ve connected with veterans, I’ve connected with seniors, with women, and with organizations that can deal with kids on the autism spectrum.
What initially connected you to the autism platform?
Again, helping people. I knew I wanted to do something where I could utilize my strengths. My strength is talking and empowering, not that I’m the best talker or the brightest talker, but I empower and I can come up with solutions very quickly. I have many weaknesses of course, but one of my strengths is being a problem solver. And I remember, this was years ago, I met a young boy. This was before I got into the field, I had no idea that he was on the autism spectrum. But I was talking to the guardian and the guardian told me that he had issues connecting, socializing, not really understanding the dynamic of family, family engagement and personal engagement. That’s so important to me, while I’m not a social butterfly, I so love social connection and social interaction because I believe that's what makes us go. That's what makes us tick when we have that social interaction. One of the challenges with kids on the spectrum, is interacting with loved ones, or their own parents sometimes. They don't have that connection that some of us have. So that was kind of a draw for me and I say, a lot of the platforms chose people, I chose this. So autism didn’t necessarily choose me, I chose autism.
How did your life change after winning the title Mrs. Montgomery County?
So my life changed to a certain degree: 1, I’m used to being busy, I’m used to multitasking, but this is busy on steroids. It changed because now when I put that sash on or people know that that's my title, they uphold me to a certain standard and not only do they uphold me to a certain standard, I uphold myself to a certain standard. So that's how it changed, my passion, my commitment, and my drive just went on overdrive and it just became very real. And know that people are looking for someone to empower them, people are looking for someone that committed to helping and being in the community.
What are your attitudes now going towards competing to be Mrs. Pennsylvania?
My attitude is one of gratitude. I'm so thankful for this opportunity. this is something that I’ve always wanted to do. I'll credit it to not knowing, I won’t say the word ignorant. I passed the Mrs. Pennsylvania America Pageant and I always saw myself on the Mrs. America stage and didn’t really know it was just a thought. Life happens and career and all this other stuff happens, but when the thought kind of resurfaced that's when I decided to pursue it. So its one of immense gratitude. Gratitude that I have this opportunity to do this to compete on June 18th. I do believe in living my best life that's my motto. and this to me is one of the points or one of the things I wanted to accomplish under that genre. I'm humbled by this process. The people that I have met, they think that I’m there to inspire them but they inspire me. Just talking and connecting they’ve inspired me and at a point where I didn’t know it was possible because I had never experienced it.
Have you pictured yourself doing this years ago or was this just recently?
No I pictured myself doing this years ago. When we start to make a goal list, I pictured this. A lot of things that I had on my goal list I’ve already accomplished. So my goal list is not something that I take lightly. I had a lot my goals in my early adulthood, so this is not the only thing that I’ve done on that goal list. So I take it very seriously.
How often do you add new goals to your list or does it change over time?
This is the funny thing about my goal list, it really hasn’t it been tweaked but the categories are still there. If that makes any sense. The categories are still there but a lot of these goals , the place or space that I’m in now are the goals that I’ve had for years. But I like check things off the list. So that's why I’m say I’m grateful, so grateful just to have this opportunity. A lot of people think about things they want to do but to actually do them is a whole different thing. Its amazing to actually do it.
Is there anything in particular that pushed you to run in either Mrs. Montgomery or Mrs. Pennsylvania?
Just timing, just timing and for me the things that I do they are not only for myself they are for someone else. This is not just for me this is for my children, this is for all the young girls and the little girls, the young women that may look up to me or not even look up to me. Some may have known me, some may know me at this point, some may get to know me, but just to know that I’m encouraging somebody else that may have thought ‘oh I can’t do that.’ I'm just going to be very honest pageants aren’t a given. Especially a pageant for married women that highlights married women and their strengths and their commitment to their families and community.
So what is overarching goal if you become Mrs. Pennsylvania?
My goal as Mrs. Pennsylvania would be to go on and compete in August in the Mrs. America Pageant in Las Vegas. One of my goals would be to be my best self going into that competition because I want to compete, I’m a competitor and that's what this process has taught me. My grit and mental thing is like on a whole different level. My second goal is to represent married women in the state of Pennsylvania and not just in the state of Pennsylvania but in the country, promoting wholeness, promoting community and promoting sisterhood and women empowerment. And my third goal would be to really take my platform of autism awareness to a whole different level because not only would I be touching Philadelphia/Montgomery county, ill be touching all the counties. Pennsylvania has millions and millions of people. So that is my goal not just to be Mrs Pennsylvania that touches Philadelphia/ Montgomery County or another county but Mrs. Pennsylvania that touches all the counties and make every person in the state connected in some way or another to autism awareness
What is one thing that you feel is necessary for people to know about you?
One thing that I feel that is necessary for people to know about me is my deep rooted commitment to my community and to helping. That's very important to me that people know that I’m committed to helping. I’m committed to empowering and I’m committed to not just reaching my goal or reaching my dream but helping others. That's a true testament to me of a winner, someone that can motivate someone else to win. Whatever their genre is whatever their point of interest, I want to motivate them to win.
Interview by Chinazo Enigwe
Edited by Tyreck Fuller and Chinazo Enigwe