A gifted senior wants to keep on giving

Taylor Braunagel is a role model for serious girls determined to make a difference

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  • Taylor Braunagel

  • Taylor Braunagel as an athlete plays with passion (Photo provided)

— Taylor Braunagel, 18, a senior at Delaware Valley High School, took the road less traveled the day after her prom. Instead of going to after-parties at the beach, like most seniors do, she spent the day washing cars at a charity event for GAIT Therapeutic Riding Center. The one-day event raised $600 for GAIT, which provides equestrian activities for children and adults with special needs.

Her selfless decision is not surprising to those who know her. Service to others is a theme in Taylor’s life. She has volunteered the past three years for the United Way Day of Care through her school, volunteered at the local food pantry, and at a Methodist Church not far from her birthplace in Port Jervis.

And Taylor’s future plans promise a lifetime of giving.

She will in the fall attend Clarion University, where she plans to major in biology, and take premed courses with the ultimate goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

“In 2009, my dad went through double knee replacement surgery, and that kind of piqued my interest because it happened at an impressionable time in my life," Taylor said.

The surgery was a success. Taylor says her dad, Carl, “still goes out and plays basketball with my brother Carl, 17" — even though he probably shouldn’t be doing all that jumping!

An athlete, Taylor’s had a few injuries herself. She came to know the doctors at Andover Orthopedics who treated her and her dad. Their care also played a role in her decision to become an orthopedic surgeon.

Taylor’s athletic career includes playing and starting on the varsity volleyball and softball teams. She was captain of the volleyball team. Her other interests include music. She enjoys playing the trombone and plays a little piano, too. She is president of Delaware Valley’s concert band.

And Taylor admits she’s a fan of some oldies: Sinatra and Elvis. She also likes Harry Connick Jr. And, having lived for awhile in Florida, she likes anything to do with Disney.

How many times has she been there? “Way too many," Taylor responds. (The family had a season pass.) When Taylor was about 11, they moved back to Milford.

A 'true renaissance woman'

Taylor has some great influences.

“My mother first of all," said Taylor. "She’s a workaholic. If she starts with something, she sees it through. She always taught me to find my purpose in life — to figure out what I’m good at and to help others with those gifts.”

Taylor’s mom, Mary Jo Murray, said Taylor is "pure joy! She shares herself with an infectious, enthusiastic personality. She has an insatiable desire for knowledge of many areas. Mostly, I love that she is confident to not always follow the crowd and to stand up for what she thinks it right.”

She added: “It warms my heart to have a parent of one of her friends let me know how she has inspired or encouraged their child in some way.”

Amanda Pope, a biology teacher at Delaware Valley High School, is another role model for Taylor. Poe is interested in physical fitness and was an athlete in college, Taylor says.

“She’s passionate about what she does and how she presents information," Taylor says. "She’s the one who piqued my interest in biology."

Mrs. Pope has known Taylor since her freshman year at DV and calls her a true "renaissance woman."

"Taylor is talented in so many different aspects: academic, athletic and musical," Pope said. "She is mature and well-respected by both her peers and teachers. What impresses me most about Taylor is that she always maintains a positive attitude, no matter how busy her day may be. Taylor shines. I have no doubt that Taylor will represent Delaware Valley well as she enters her collegiate years.”

Taylor confesses that not everyone in her household shares the workaholic gene. In addition to her brother, Carl, Taylor has two sisters: Megan, 20 and younger sister Miranda Marie, 10.

Mom, Mary Jo Murray, stepdad Mike and dad Carl are proud of her accomplishments.

It’s likely there will be more to come.

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