Loyola University Chicago

Weekend of Excellence

Daria Taylor

PHOTO: Natalie Battaglia Senior Daria Taylor takes notes during her documentary filmmaking class. “Loyola’s biggest strength is undoubtedly its faculty,” she says. “Each of my faculty mentors has provided me with a different perspective and way of looking at the world.”

Daria Taylor

Major: International Film and Media Production
Class: 2015  •  Hometown: La Grange, IL

Daria Taylor wants to make movies, but not the shoot ’em up blockbusters that Hollywood churns out every year.

Instead, she wants to work on projects that focus on social justice and ethical behavior. To that end, she’s creating a website that will help parents pick positive films for their kids to see—and hopefully, change how people view the movie-making industry.

Here, she talks about her roommate, her work as a Johnson Scholar, and how Loyola has given her the skills she’ll need to succeed in life.

What’s your favorite Loyola memory?

I’ve had countless incredible experiences throughout my four years at Loyola, but the one I will remember forever is meeting my roommate, Teyana Morgan. Teyana is the strongest person I know, and I have learned as much from her as I have from any of my classes, which proves that Loyola truly provides an opportunity for holistic development. 

Talk a little about a professor or mentor who inspired you.

Throughout my time at Loyola, I have formed connections with faculty mentors who have provided me with wisdom and guidance that has inspired me to develop into a more well-rounded person. Aaron Greer, Jim Collins, Bren Ortega Murphy, Jamason Chen, and Pete Lekousis have all gone out of their way to encourage me to make thoughtful, well-informed decisions, and I owe each of them credit for any future success I may achieve.

Tell us about your research: what it is, how you got involved, and what you hope to accomplish with it.

For the past two years, I have been working with Professor Bren Ortega Murphy as a Johnson Scholar for the Gannon Center for Women and Leadership. We’re creating a website—“Films Every Girl and Boy Should See: Early Lessons in Leadership”—that will be used as a resource for parents and educators to select positive films for children to view. By evaluating these films on the messages they provide, I have gained an understanding of the responsibility that filmmakers have to their audiences, and I am committed to work only on projects that prioritize ethical decision-making.

How has your involvement in student organizations or service work helped shape you as a person?

This year, I interned at Kartemquin Films, which is a production company dedicated to creating character-driven documentaries about marginalized groups. Interning at Kartemquin gave me the opportunity to gain a better understanding of documentary filmmaking practices through a social justice lens.

What do you think differentiates Loyola from other universities?

Loyola’s biggest strength is undoubtedly its faculty. A university can hire knowledgeable professors, but it takes a special level of commitment from faculty to take a personal stake in their students’ lives, which is exactly what I have experienced during my time here. Each of my faculty mentors has provided me with a different perspective and way of looking at the world.

And finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

I have no idea what I’ll be doing 10 years from now. Ten years ago, I was 12 and thought that Cheetos were an acceptable dinner option. You never know what opportunities will present themselves to you in the future. I’m confident that the skills I have developed during my time at Loyola will prepare me to adapt, grow, and succeed at whatever challenges come my way.