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A Student-Athlete's Perspective: Taylor Sneed

Penn sophomore swimmer Taylor Sneed specializes in the backstroke and butterfly for the Quakers' women's swimming & diving team. She holds the school record in the 100 butterfly.

1. When you think of the history and accomplishments of African-Americans in our country, what jumps out in your mind?
Sneed: The era of the Civil Rights Movement is one that cannot be forgotten. The works of many to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 brought about an immense amount of change to America, including desegregation of schools along with equal protection under the law. That piece of legislation became the key to many African-Americans future success, and without it I would not have had the liberty to become a female African-American student-athlete.

2. What do you enjoy and what are the challenges in your current experiences as an African-American student-athlete on an Ivy League campus?
Sneed: I enjoy being part of a team that supports one another in all endeavors, as well as being able to contribute to the diverseness of the Penn athletic community at large. I am lucky enough to be on a campus where each day I am surrounded by people who inspire me as a student and an athlete.

3. As you reflect on Black History month, talk about one person who has influenced your life and why?
Sneed: My father has definitely been one of the most influential people in my life. He has nurtured my drive for excellence whether it is in or out of the pool. He has always told me that, “if I want to be the best, then I have to beat the best.” It has been this mentality and growing up with such a wonderful role model that I have been able to take full advantage of the opportunities that have been given to me.

4. What do you feel is your role in being a leader or role model as African-American student-athlete on your campus and in your communities both at school and at home?
Sneed: Dreams always seem more obtainable if someone has reached them beforehand. I would not be where I am today without other African-Americans who crossed various barriers before my time. I can only hope that my actions and leadership role will encourage younger generations to strive for their goals.

5. Projecting forward, what is one thing you would like to achieve or be part of once you graduate to advance the African-American ideal for future generations?
Sneed: Being an Urban Studies major, I have an interest in wanting to advance city living. With such a high concentration of African-Americans living in cities, I hope to be a part of a generation that strives to improve our public education system, thus making an impact on the education of many African-Americans and hopefully sending a higher percentage of students onto college. Also I would like to increase the participation of African-Americans in the sport of swimming, because I feel it builds self-esteem, discipline and perseverance.