Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Taylor helps make SSA an award-winning organization

Saturday, May 12, 2018
Photo submitted by Martha Taylor

It was not until her junior year when Martha Taylor realized the Secular Student Alliance Organization was something she wanted to pursue. With countless hours invested, Taylor, who is graduating with a degree in computer information systems in business, has turned SSA into an award-winning organization.

This organization has become quite active, hosting discussions, socials, speakers and service projects to name a few.

“The mission of SSA is to empower students to proudly express their secular identity, build welcoming communities, lead meaningful and fulfilling lives and provide visionary leadership committed to humanistic ideas and critical inquiry,” Taylor said.

Taylor has gained valuable experience in giving back to the community, developing her own skill set in the process.

“When I got involved with SSA, I started to gain more leadership skills, so I joined the Diversity Peer Educators and I was the vice president of recruitment for that,” Taylor said. “Then I was an interfaith campus intern for the episcopal church downtown, then I was the vice president for the Interfaith Student Alliance.”

She eventually worked her way up to being named president.

“I felt like I needed a community for secular students, and I have always wanted to have that,” Taylor said.

For her, it was more about making a positive experience for everyone involved as well as landing different opportunities to meet new people who inspired her along the way.

It was a 2016 SSA conference in Columbus, Ohio, that opened Taylor’s eyes in growing an SSA organization on campus.

“I want to make this a thing, especially since secular students are really misunderstood in this area of the country,” Taylor said. “So, I said we should get a group of students together and do good things in the community to show that we are normal people, too.”

Through hours of hard work and determination, Taylor was able to grow SSA. When Taylor first started SSA it only had five people, now membership has grown to 30 students.

“It is really cool to see something that you have basically built from the ground up become successful, that has been the most memorable part for me,” Taylor said.

Among other memorable parts of her experience was winning the Outstanding Student Organization award last month.

Taylor said the hours of work and investment have been well worth it.

“Getting involved with SSA has definitely inspired me to get more involved in giving back to the community getting involved with non-profit work,” Taylor said.

The passion for non-profit work will land her on the West Coast in October as she will be an active member in the Americorps NCCC. Taylor said she will be volunteering in the Pacific region on an eight-to-10-person team, completing multiple service projects that address community needs over the course of 10 months.

“I think just my experience with working with a national nonprofit will help,” she said. “It has really made me realize that I’m passionate about nonprofit work and giving back to the community and humanism and making a difference.”

Taylor is excited about what her future has in store for her but will miss everything the University and community have to offer.

“I will miss Cape. I really like downtown, SEMO and the community here,” Taylor said. “I’ll miss my job on campus, my friends, my major and my friends in organizations. I’ll miss it.”