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Staff Spotlight: Imani Taylor

Friday, July 20, 2018

Imani Taylor, a senior at North Carolina Central University, first became interested in health communications after her aunt had a stroke. The experience inspired Taylor to learn more about how she could improve her own health and also protect the health of her family. In this week’s “Staff Spotlight” interview, Taylor talks to us about her work as a communications intern within the Neurology Department, and what she’s learned so far about neurological conditions. She also talks about her love for writing as well as the novel she recently completed.

What are your current responsibilities within the Neurology Department? What does your typical day look like?
Currently, I am a communications intern here in the Neurology Department. My duties here usually fluctuate. Recently, a typical work day for me consists of me coming into the office, checking my emails, then reaching out to different faculty members regarding their date and time availability to meet with future guest speakers and potential faculty recruits. I’ve also helped conduct “Faculty Spotlight” interviews and wrote Department news for the website.  

What’s been the biggest surprise for you so far about working in the field of neurology?
I’ve actually learned a lot about the different neuromuscular diseases that I had never heard before. The only neuromuscular disease I knew about when coming into this internship was stroke. I had heard of Parkinson’s Disease, but didn’t really know what it was. I think the biggest surprise for me was learning how strokes are treated and learning how many brain cells die per minute when experiencing stroke.

How and when did you first get interested in communications as a field? What interests you the most about health communication in particular?
I think I first got interested in communications after I completed the manuscript of my first novel.  

My interest in health communications sparked after seeing my aunt go through a stroke, and seeing many of my family members in and out of the hospital. My family is full of people with health problems, and I wanted to be able to learn how to prevent certain diseases, especially stroke, because that’s a major health issue in my family. I’ve seen how difficult it can be to reverse the effects of stroke firsthand. My aunt had a stroke on the left side of her brain which completely paralyzed her right side and took away her ability to speak. I feel like if I, or my family, would’ve known the signs of stroke sooner, we would’ve been able to save her from the horrible effects.

You recently finished a novel. What is the novel about?
Growing up, I was made to believe and feel like I wasn’t “pretty enough” by peers because of my darker skin. My self-esteem was completely low, and I really hated myself. So I started to write about my experiences and my feelings about being a darker complexion. This is actually where my love for writing came into play. After I finished writing my novel, I felt a sense of relief. It made me want to tell other stories that could be inspirational to other people, especially, the younger generation. So to answer your question, my novel is about the effects of colorism, especially amongst young girls in the African-American community. 

How long did it take you to write the novel, and what was the hardest part in the writing process?
I started writing my novel when I was about twenty years old. When I first started writing, different ideas kept coming into my head. I made sure to write them all on paper. In two days, I had finished seven chapters out of the thirteen. But then, school and work got in the way. Then later on, procrastination, because I let people’s opinions deter me from wanting to complete my novel. “Friends,” would tell me that no one cared about that stuff anymore, so I started thinking it was pointless to write. But eventually, I completed it. I would say, it took me about two years to finish, being that I completely stopped writing it for a while and the hardest part was finishing.

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of work and school?
Honestly, I enjoy the simple things in life. I’m big on family, so anything involving family, I’m passionate about. I really enjoy writing fictional stories, travelling, and any activity that will get my adrenaline rushing.  

Taylor and aunt

Taylor poses with her aunt, who recently passed away from cancer after her stroke.

Taylor and siblings

Taylor and her siblings take a break from water rides and roller coasters in this photo.