Inspired by her great-aunt Emma Frances Grayson Merritt, a pioneer in the field of education, Dr. Estelle Wormley Taylor fell in love with the possibility of teaching the younger generations. She pursued her interests, first at Miner Teacher’s College, where she earned a Bachelor of Science, magna cum laude, in 1945, and then at Howard University, where she earned a Master of Arts in 1947. She enhanced her knowledge by earning a PhD from the Catholic University of America in 1969.
Dr. Taylor started her career at her alma mater, Howard University, where she really found a home over the years. From 1947 to 1952, she served the institution as an instructor of English, and, after a brief interlude in which she taught at Langley Junior High School, Eastern Senior High School, D.C. Teachers College, and Federal City College, she returned as a professor in 1976. Dr. Taylor didn’t move around again after that; she stayed on with the school until her retirement in 1991, at which point she adopted the distinguished title of professor emeritus. During her tenure with Howard University, she held positions such as chairman of the Department of English, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and director of the expository writing program in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Some of her favorite parts of the job were being in the classroom, preparing lectures, and encouraging people to not just read, but to have an understanding of what they were reading.
When Dr. Taylor wasn’t working, she enjoyed sharing her expertise with her community. She was the first vice president of the Order of the Daughters of the King Episcopalian Church Diocese in Washington, a member of the selection board for the Foreign Agricultural Service, a member of the commission on higher education through the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and the co-chair of the steering committee to revise characteristics of excellence. Dr. Taylor also held memberships with the Modern Language Association of America, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, the College Language Association, the Shakespeare Association of America, and the American Foreign Service Association. To this day, she remains a member and secretary of the Education Licensure Commission of D.C. and the advisory board of the Humanities Institute at Montgomery College. Further, she is involved with the Capital City Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, which is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of people of African ancestry.
In recognition of her outstanding achievements in her field, Dr. Taylor received the Alumni Award for Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement in Education and Literature in 1997, and was named as a distinguished alumna by Howard University in 1995. She also received a fellowship from the Rockefeller/Aspen Institute, and is featured in numerous editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who in the World, and Who’s Who in American Women. Amongst all of her prestigious accolades, however, Dr. Taylor still feels the most rewarding part of her career is when her students stay in touch.