Western New Mexico University may not seem the obvious landing spot for a student who has wanted to be a marine biologist since the fifth grade. For first-year zoology major Imani Taylor, however, attending WNMU was an easy decision. “It’s really hard to find a school with a zoology program,” said Taylor, “and fortunately WNMU did.” WNMU has the only zoology program in New Mexico.
Taylor chose zoology because the field allows her to combine her love of animals with her interest in aquatic life. Growing up she always had animals in and around her home—common pets like dogs and cats, but also guinea pigs, chickens and rabbits.
She also has a passion for marine animals and a deep-rooted curiosity about the mysteries of the ocean depths. Said Taylor, “People say we have only found 5% of it, but I think, ‘How do you actually know?’” Her commitment to zoology and especially marine biology is also fueled by environmental concerns. “I always saw the ocean and felt like no one had any consideration for it,” she said, and so she intends to give it consideration in her education and future career decisions.
In addition to studying zoology at Western, Taylor is a student athlete on the volleyball team. She is the first in her family to play college sports. A native of southern California, Taylor’s volleyball career has been tested by knee injuries in 2021 and 2022, but she has persevered and continues to play. One of her challenges this year has been negotiating the demands of volleyball and her coursework. “I am still finding a balance between it all,” Taylor said. She is grateful to her friends and teammates for helping her develop a time-management system to plan her days.
By doing so, she is able to find time for some other passions. A naturally quiet and observant person, Taylor likes to contemplate her new home from a favorite campus bench during the day, and at night she loves to stargaze from a nearby trail. “It’s the moon,” Taylor explains, I have always loved the moon. I have always loved the nighttime.”
Whether contemplating the vastness of the oceans or viewing the moon and myriad stars in the night sky, Taylor has found a home at WNMU.