As a member of Ross School’s first graduating class, Taylor Vecsey ’01 took the school’s motto, “Know thyself in order to serve,” to heart—and it has remained a guideline for her ever since. Both in her career as an award-winning journalist and in her role as a volunteer emergency medical technician and EMS captain for the Bridgehampton Fire Department, Taylor strives to make a meaningful contribution to the community in which she grew up.
Despite being born into a family of writers—her paternal grandparents helped to found the Newspaper Guild and both her uncle and father have enjoyed long, successful careers as sports journalists—Taylor was unsure of what field she wanted to enter. What set her off on the path that’s guided her adult life was the simple act of answering an email. The late Barbara Bologna, a beloved English teacher at Ross, sent a message seeking a student to prepare weekly news for the East Hampton Star. Taylor was one of two students to reply and the only one to show up to a subsequent meeting. Though she got the job by default, Taylor proved herself to be a strong writer with a nose for news, and with Bologna’s mentorship, she produced her first bylined article for the Star, covering students’ Field Academy (then known as J-Term) coursework. “I can't say enough about how [Barbara] influenced the course of my life,” Taylor said.
Eventually, writing for the newspaper led to her other significant work. As a young reporter, Taylor contributed to a three-part series on the local volunteer emergency medical service (EMS) system. The piece concluded that the area’s rapidly growing population and high cost of living made it all but impossible for the volunteer EMS to meet the demand for its services. Many readers bristled at the perceived criticisms of the system, seeing them as a denigration of volunteers’ efforts, but one reader presented Taylor with a unique proposition: instead of talking about the program’s faults, why not join EMS and become active in making it better?
The question forced Taylor to consider whether she had the courage to take on the same responsibilities as the volunteers, assisting people on what may possibly be the worst day of their lives. Ultimately, she challenged herself to do just that.
In 2010, Taylor joined the Bridgehampton Fire Department as a member of the fire police company. After undergoing hundreds of hours of training, she became a New York State–certified emergency medical technician, and she currently serves as the captain of the ambulance company. Taylor describes her work with the company as beyond medical assistance. Just as important is offering kindness and compassion to others as they weather scary and dangerous situations.
Being a part of the fire department, she said, has taught her much about herself, and it shares a common characteristic with her work as a journalist: they both provide ways for her to serve those around her.
“Being of service keeps me connected to the real world and my community,” Taylor said. “It reminds me that living a fulfilling life is not just about the career you have or the car you drive. It’s about what you are contributing to the world and the small part each of us plays in making it a better place.”
Among other advice Taylor offered to the senior class during her address at this month’s commencement ceremony, she stressed that students should step outside of their comfort zones and take risks in all areas of their lives. “I've always found out things about myself that I would never have known had I not just stepped up to the challenge,” she said. Taylor and her community have certainly benefited from that process.