Logan Graham ‘19 and Taylor Graham ‘16: Park Scholar Siblings 600 Miles Apart and 2,000 Miles from Home

Logan ‘19 and Taylor ‘16 Graham, natives of the mountain town of Durango in rural southwestern Colorado, are the first sibling pair to hold membership in the Park Scholarships programs at NC State and Ithaca College, respectively. As the elder brother, Taylor was the first to make the move to the East Coast.

Taylor Graham '16, Park Scholar at Ithaca College
Taylor Graham ’16, Park Scholar at Ithaca College

His passion for filmmaking and storytelling, combined with his desire to see the world and to learn and interact in new environments, immediately attracted Taylor to Ithaca’s Roy H. Park School of Communications. Likewise, its Park Scholar Program’s supportive community and commitment to service resonated with the meaning he sought to derive from his college experience. Now a senior majoring in emerging media, Taylor values the web development, writing, and filmmaking skill sets he has honed.

“Since I began pursuing my major, my belief in the power of narrative and the importance of communication has remained the driving force behind my education,” said Taylor. “At the same time, I have gone beyond the methodology of storytelling and begun exploring the issues I hope to one day communicate. Thus, what began as a passion for communicating meaning and telling stories has grown into a need to communicate complex issues in the hopes that I can initiate positive change.”

Reflecting on his time as a Park Scholar, Taylor cites his studies and travel abroad as the experiences through which he has developed the most, as both a person and a media practitioner. As a sophomore, he traveled to and reported in the West Bank, Palestine and worked as a whitewater river guide on the Ahansal River in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. While studying abroad in Jaipur, India during his junior year, he spent a month in the remote Himalayan state of Sikkim filming “Taming the Teesta,” a short documentary exploring the area’s rampant hydroelectric development.

The projects to which Taylor is currently devoting his time reflect some of the causes close to his heart. His interactions with traditional artisans in Morocco inspired him to create Lanapo.org, a nonprofit which aims to empower Native American artisans by providing them a platform to easily sell their crafts online. In addition to growing this initiative, he is premiering his documentary at film festivals; coordinating a nine-week writing club for incarcerated youth at the MacCormick Secure Center near Ithaca; and helping to implement data-driven website redesigns for Lowernine.org, a nonprofit working to rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, and the Friendship Donations Network, an Ithaca-based food rescue organization.

Logan '19 (left) and Taylor '16 Graham
Logan ’19 (left) and Taylor ’16 Graham

For three years, Logan heard from his brother about the strong friendships and professional connections he formed with his fellow Park Scholars and alumni, and other opportunities he’d been afforded through the program. While no one from Durango High School had applied to NC State previously, Logan decided to blaze the trail and throw his hat in the ring for NC State’s Park Scholarships program.

“It wasn’t until I came to NC State for Finalist Weekend that I realized how amazing the university was outside of the Park program,” said Logan. “I fell in love with the red bricks and intoxicating atmosphere of the people here. I remember sitting in the Raleigh airport, waiting for my plane back to Colorado and talking to my parents on the phone – ‘This is where I want to go to school, this is what I want to do.’”

Interested in politics since his elementary school days, Logan has found political science to be a natural fit as a major. His coursework is thought-provoking, particularly in light of the current U.S. presidential campaigns, and he enjoys engaging in meaningful discourse with his Park Faculty Mentor, Steven Greene. But Logan was not content to idly observe the political process; early on in his first semester, he ran for and was elected to one of NC State Student Government’s ten first-year senate seats. In this role, he is leading an effort to enable NC State students to take free buses to the nearest voting location on March 15, North Carolina’s primary election day.

Logan Graham '19, Park Scholar at NC State
Logan Graham ’19, Park Scholar at NC State

Beyond the political realm, Logan – who served as editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper and was awarded first place in Colorado in the 2014 National Federation of Press Women student journalism competition – is now a staff columnist for The Technician at NC State, authoring a weekly column that puts a humorous spin on issues facing students. He also volunteers at a local elementary school and served on the planning committee for the 12th annual Krispy Kreme Challenge.

Looking ahead, Taylor, who will graduate from Ithaca this spring, plans to pursue an advanced degree in journalism and international relations, while continuing to cultivate Lanapo.org. He is also considering a return trip to India to address the development issues there. Logan is contemplating law or graduate school down the road, with career possibilities in politics, teaching, environmental preservation – or all of the above.

When asked what advice he would offer to prospective or new Park Scholars, Logan tapped into his own experience over the past six months; he urges them to “push their comfort zones.”

“Don’t be afraid to come to NC State because it’s miles away from your home,” he elaborated. “And even if NC State is a block down the street from your house, come here intent on trying new things. Meeting new and different people, doing things I’ve never done before, and thinking in new ways have been the most rewarding things I’ve done so far.”

posted 2016.03.01