Adventure and Taylor Waters:
St. John’s Director of Student Services
Braves the Unknown

Taylor Waters' sense of humor is just one part of what makes her good at her job as the director of student services at St. John's College. Since the fall semester of 2006, she has cheerfully guided St. John's students in their day-to-day concerns, from finding off-campus housing to advising students about safety. She talks to students who are chronically absent, coordinates transfers to and from the Santa Fe campus, and participates in committees on campus infrastructure. She also helps take care of Cadie, the precocious campus dog. “[Assistant Dean] Ms. Kronsberg is clearly the alpha dog,” she says, “but I like to say that I'm Cadie's favorite litter mate.”

A sense of humor may make Waters' hectic schedule cheery, but it's not enough to make her as capable as she is; for her sheer competence in the face of unpredictable tasks, Waters has her background as a trauma nurse to thank. “My job is similar to trauma in that I never know what's going to happen. Some of it is troubleshooting, whether it's helping a sick student, or disciplining a student walking on the roof. Anything could happen.”

The winding road that bought Waters to Annapolis and St. John's begins in adventure. After completing an undergraduate degree in history at American University, with an emphasis on the civil rights movement, Waters worked for a time as a bike courier in the chaotic traffic of Washington, D.C. She recalls her courier days with some amazement: “The money was based on the number of runs you could do in a day, and I was pretty daring. I can't believe the crazy stuff I used to do, like sneaking between the wall of a building and a bus. There were weeks when I would ride 100 miles a day, easily. But I only did that for a year.” With her hard-won earnings in hand, Waters traveled extensively. “I've traveled Latin America a few times, particularly Colombia and Ecuador. I've traveled all of the countries that line the Andes,” she says. “I also spent some time in Rome, and went all around Europe. About five years of frolicking in all; it was a free form kind of life.”

In 1992, Waters was ready for a change from constant change. She moved to Annapolis to enroll in the St. John's Graduate Institute. Her sister, Sarah Waters (A88), had completed the undergraduate degree, and Waters wanted to experience St. John's unique approach to higher education for herself. While she studied the works of Aristotle and Plato, among others, at the Graduate Institute, she held the senior resident's position on campus, which meant that she lived on campus as a sort of big sister to students, arranging activities and overseeing parties. Then, with only two tutorials between her and a master's degree, love struck. Waters met her future husband, electrical engineer Michael Potter, at a play reading hosted by a mutual friend. “I fell in love the first time I saw him, I have to admit,” she says. “Isn't that bizarre? Here I was, single, 33, having a great time; then he proposed six months after we met and we went to Las Vegas and eloped. I would have finished, but, quite honestly, I was too distracted by that time.”

It was not long before Waters found another adventure to pursue. “I had this epiphany. I was working as a maid in a bed and breakfast, and it occurred to me: I wanted to pursue nursing.” Going back to school to study nursing was a fulfillment of a lifelong interest albeit, one that Waters had ignored for some time. “I was always interested in medicine,” she says. “But I never pursued it because I thought I didn't have the math skills. But when I went to nursing school for my Bachelor's in Science and Nursing, I loved the science and physiology.” Waters' apprehensions were unfounded; she completed her math and science requirements at Anne Arundel Community College, and then earned her BSN from the University of Maryland in three years, taking a year off to give birth to her son John. Her outstanding grades placed her in Sigma Theta Tau, a nursing honor society. “Two weeks after I got my diploma I was at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, the premiere shock trauma center in the world. The center was the first of its kind, based on the ‘golden hour' theory of Dr. R Adams Cowley who postulated that, if a life was to be saved after a traumatic accident, it needed attention within the first hour.” Consequently, the cases brought to the trauma center are sudden and critical injuries. Waters met the intense challenges of being a trauma nurse, working with victims of violence, industrial and automobile accidents, and even boating accidents flown in from the Caribbean. “It was very stimulating and fascinating,” Waters says. “Trauma is the only type of nursing I would ever want to do. Of course, it started to take its toll after a while.” After four years, she decided to look for a job in Annapolis so she could be closer to her son, who will be starting at the Key School this fall. When the director of student services job opened, Waters—thanks to her experience as a courageous courier, a St. John's student and former senior resident, and a resilient trauma nurse—was able to earn the position.

Born and raised in Washington D.C., Waters says she still misses the greater cultural diversity of the city, but Annapolis, she says, has its own attractions. Not surprisingly, after her years of adventure and tense work environments, Waters most values the peaceful aspects of Annapolis. “I love the water; and I love being able to sit in my office and hear the bell toll from Church Circle.”


What event in the Annapolis area are you most looking forward to in 2006?

Powerboat Show
Sailboat Show
Renaissance Festival
Seafood Festival
County Fair

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