Taylor Vanschoik – Work Ethic Scholarship Recipient, Works Hard at Giving Back
Taylor Vanschoik grew up in Vicksburg, Michigan. It’s not just his hometown; it’s also a close-knit community that helped him through the most difficult period in his family’s life – Cancer. When Taylor was 14 doctors discovered he had a tumor in his brain. It had to be surgically removed. Taylor had two brain surgeries, six months of chemotherapy, and a month of radiation. He was in the hospital for over two months. “It was hard on my mother,” said Taylor, “Probably hardest on my younger brother.”
Vicksburg showed up for Taylor and his family, providing both financial and moral support. This had a tremendous effect on him, and helped shape the direction of his life.
“I just wanted to give back to the community.”
So, that’s what he did. His junior year at Vicksburg High School, Taylor joined the Explorers Program, an internship for firefighters. He got to ride along on non-emergency calls, help maintain equipment, and essentially learn everything it takes to run a fire station. Taylor did not let the long hours of the Explorers Program interfere with his general studies. He finished high school with perfect attendance, and on the Honor Roll. On the day he graduated in 2009, he joined the South County Fire Department in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
While working full-time on an ambulance, Taylor attended EMS and first-responder classes at Kellogg Community College for two years, finally earning his Fire-Fighter and Paramedic certificate. He was content in knowing he was giving back the community, and expected to stay on this course indefinitely. He soon learned that being a first responder was taxing physically. The pay wasn’t great and the benefits were not as good as he expected. He realized it was not the kind of job you can do for 30 years, so he began to think about a different path.
Part of his job at the station was doing preventative maintenance on the fire trucks and equipment. Mostly small stuff like oil changes and tune ups, but it piqued his interest. In 2014 Taylor started investigating automotive schools and scholarships online. That’s how he found and applied to Universal Technical Institute – Chicago and the #mikeroweWORKS Foundation. He was accepted by both.
Taylor now lives in Chicago and works at The Home Depot while attending UTI. Three weeks ago Taylor completed his Auto/Diesel/Industrial Program. Now he is in the Finish First Program studying Dailmer trucks. He plans to graduate in February of 2017 as an Auto, Diesel, and Industrial Technician with a Dailmer specialty. After that, he hopes to get full-time work at Shnyder National and start a family. When asked if he was done with fire-fighting Taylor replied, “No. I plan to be a volunteer fire-fighter. I can’t wait to get back to doing that.”
Taylor has been cancer free for 10 years.