University of Dayton rower Taylor Alexander is a 22-year-old senior who was part of a group that created an award-winning documentary about the opioid crisis in Dayton.
And there’s more to her than that accomplishment. Here are five things to know about this unique UD athlete:
She was part of telling an award-winning story
Alexander is the co-producer of a documentary — “Epicenter: Dayton’s Opioid Crisis” — that just won a student Emmy from the four-state Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
The 16-minute film, which offers a sobering, but caring, examination of the numbing national drug crisis as seen through the lens of Dayton, is the work of student filmmakers in Greg Kennedy’s media production class at UD. They spoke to recovering addicts, their families, treatment specialists and law enforcement to get their story.
Her parents were both Army paratroopers
Her mom and dad both had been in the 101st Airborne Division. After the service, her dad worked for the government in security, she said, and his assignments took her to various stops around the world, including Morocco, Nicaragua to several places in Europe. She spent a lot of time in D.C., as well.
As for her continued wonderment of the world, Alexander attributes that to her parents and the opportunities that came with her dad’s travels.
“I’m really, really grateful to them,” she said. “They always instilled the value that the world is much bigger than we know.”
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She has committed her time to other service
She’s been a 4.0 student with a double major in communications and international relations, is beginning work at the Flyer TV station on campus and is heavily involved in a couple of UD projects that affect social consciousness and change.
Besides her continued efforts stemming from the opioid documentary, she just spent two weeks on the US- Mexico border — in the sister cities of El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico — as part of UD’s Moral Courage Project.
It’s a human rights storytelling group — last year the topic was the unrest in Ferguson, Mo. — that is now documenting experiences on the border to present a truer narrative on immigration and make the most contentious issues more human.
She has powerful life experiences
Her older sister, Codi, was 16 (Taylor was 13) when she was hit and killed by a motorist as she walked her bike though a crosswalk on her way home from her job as a lifeguard.
She has two brothers — Chase played football at Salisbury State last year and Brandon is a high school wrestler — and four years ago her parents adopted a baby, Katharine, who was opioid addicted at birth. Today, she’s a loved and vibrant little girl whom Alexander describes as “ a little bit of sunshine.”
Coming to UD with all these life experiences, she felt she would be able to immerse herself in both the campus and the city.
She’s been a rower since her freshman year
“I was trying to make friends freshman year, and there was this girl on our floor who had rowed in high school,” she said. “She asked me to come to an information session about the team, and I said, ‘Oh sure.’ I didn’t think there was any commitment. I was just hoping to make a new friend.
“But when I got there, it turned into a ‘learn to row’ session.”
She did well on the indoor rowing machine, and the coach asked her to try out for the team. And that girl from the floor is Hannah Butler, now the senior captain of the UD team, Alexander’s roommate and one of her closest friends.
Alexander was part of UD rowing’s two Varsity 8 boats, the Varsity 4 and a couple of JV boats last season.