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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Online Business Office Administration Graduate Spotlight with Brothers Leland and Donovan Taylor

March 29, 2022
SJVC Online Business Office Administration graduate Donovan Taylor
SJVC Online Business Office Administration graduate Donovan Taylor

Leland and Donovan Taylor are brothers born just one year and 9 months apart from each other. They were raised by their parents, Stephanie and Michael Taylor in Elk Grove, California, a suburb of Sacramento. Their mother, Stephanie, is the Senior Admissions Advisor at SJVC Rancho Cordova. Both brothers graduated last year in April 2021 from the SJVC Business Office Administration program at exactly the same time. There is an interesting story behind the reasons why they did the program together – it is a story of family love, ingenuity, circumstances beyond their control, and learning to surf the southern California waves of life – together.

Elk Grove was a “new suburb with a neighborhood vibe,” as Donovan describes their childhood. Leland recalls it was a very beautiful neighborhood with a great environment and supportive community. The boys did a lot of things together, as they were so close in age. Sometimes brothers can be adversaries, but their parents made a point to encourage them to support each other and always take care of each other.  “They used to be in dance groups and compete with their friends all the time,” says Stephanie. “They also had their own vintage clothing line, where they would search thrift shops and re-sell clothes.”

They looked enough alike that they were sometimes mistaken for twins. They were similar in certain interests; but their personalities always differed. Stephanie described it this way: “Leland has always been the charismatic one. We thought he’d end up in sales or be a politician; he would meet strangers so naturally, with a conversation and a smile. On the other hand, from a young age, Donovan was always interested in money; at 6 years old he asked for a wallet for his birthday! He has always taken money very seriously.”

After graduating from Cosumnes Oaks High School in Elk Grove, they each entered Cosumnes River College, at different times. Leland, however, left college early; he had signed with a modeling and talent agency out of Sacramento, and decided to pursue his interests in Los Angeles. Donovan stayed on and finished a couple of semesters; but soon Leland invited him to join him in Los Angeles. It was tempting; they had always helped and supported each other at home. Perhaps, they could do the same in the real world.

SJVC Online Business Office Administration graduate Leland Taylor
SJVC Online Business Office Administration graduate Leland Taylor

Donovan moved in with Leland and got his first job as a server for the Macaroni Grill. Leland was giving haircuts to people and modeling on the side. However, COVID arrived like a bad thunderstorm, and the world began to shut down. Donovan lost his job and filed for unemployment. The opportunities for auditions began to diminish for Leland. There they were in LA, not wanting to leave, not knowing what to do.

Both boys credit their mother’s constant encouragement from childhood. She suggested, since they were both sitting in their apartment in Long Beach with no work, why not apply for an online program at SJVC? They could help each other out as they always had.

Both brothers applied simultaneously to the Business Office Administration program at SJVC. This online study coursework would require a good bit of discipline to earn a degree. They had not succeeded in finishing community college before, though they attended separately; if they supported each other like they did as children, egging each other on, pushing the other when they needed it, it might help them get through all the studying. They could encourage each other to get their work done and get to the finish line, earning a degree in Business Office Administration, a foundation for whatever career each one decided to pursue.

Donovan found the online courses much less stressful. Leland agreed: “Being at home and focusing on school was a blessing for me.” They designated a specific time each day to study. Together, they would keep each other from slipping; ie., no playing video games until they were finished with schoolwork!

“The first month or two was hard,” Donovan said. “It was an adjustment. I definitely wanted to quit.”  The first two courses were the most challenging. “But we got in motion with it and worked as a team. You know two heads are better than one!” Whenever they did hit a wall, they had their Mom to call and give them encouragement to remind them to knuckle down – together.

Leland began wanting to learn how to organize himself. As he learned more about the inner workings of a business, he realized he was being taught ways to scale his own business that he hoped to run someday. That motivated him to keep going. Donovan, who was always interested in money and how it worked, says the degree taught him how to manage funding. He learned to work with numbers, understanding that budgeting was essential to a successful business. Like his brother, he also learned how to use these principles on a scale and how to sustain himself.

The SJVC experience was great – even online, the brothers said. “They had all the resources you needed, and there was a nice family vibe,” Leland commented. “SJVC has so many opportunities. You can check out whatever interests you; and if you execute and follow through with it you’ll succeed. It takes commitment; you have to stay on it and don’t quit.” Donovan, the budget conscious one, added, “Once you get your schedule and begin, you have to make school the priority instead of work. Get your head into it first. And make sure you’re financially stable enough to make it through first.”

In April 2021, Leland and Donovan made it; they graduated with their A.S. degree from the online Business Office Administration program. The brothers are still living in Long Beach with the goal to eventually move into Los Angeles together.

The brothers are on a similar path to model (Leland cleverly changed his hair to look different from his brother). But, as predictable, they have taken their SJVC experience and applied it in different ways. Donovan believes in the currently popular way of working on his portfolio via social media and building a fan base to attract more auditions. He understands the value of “finding your lane” so you stand out among the crowd, and is having fun working on ways to do that.  He also has thoughts of furthering his education eventually with a Bachelor’s Degree, perhaps applying in the fall.

Leland, a talented hair cutter, has created a barbershop business that is flexible enough to allow him to take modeling jobs. He sees the haircutting business as more reliable than the modeling work for now. He also loves the day-to-day conversations with his clients, as he has always enjoyed engaging with other people. He hopes he can build his business to where he will be in a position to invest in other things. Recently, he booked a commercial for the NCAA as a student athlete, and is now considering acting classes on the side. Having the degree, he says gives him the confidence to use this flexibility and consider other possibilities. The rest, he says, is about having a good work ethic.

The brothers are still living together. And why not? The success they experienced helping each other through SJVC’s program was a win/win. The positive vibe one gets talking to them, you know they will succeed meeting their opportunities and working hard toward their individual goals. And even though they may have different careers, you get the feeling they will always have each other’s back. They are doing it together, no matter what direction they go in.

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