a community engagement initiative of Momence CUSD #1
Malik Taylor, Junior, is a loyal disciple of living with conviction. “I think I’m a great person,” he proclaims, “I always love. I always show that I care about my friends.” Whereas some young people of Malik’s age are lost on the path, Malik knows precisely what he’s doing and where he’s headed. He’s taken the leap and is not afraid of what’s on the other side.
Focus and Fearlessness
Hailing from the urban atmosphere of Memphis, Malik decided when he was twelve that there wasn’t a future in the city for him. “I just felt something awakening when I was like, twelve,” he explains, “I wanted to move on from that because I wanted to learn how to be a man.” The only option that seemed appropriate for Malik was moving in with his father in the Kankakee-Momence area. Transferring in from Kankakee High School, this is his first year at Momence.
I always love. I always show that I care about my friends.
By Nate Fisher
When we asked what spurred him to make such an enormous change at such a young age, he didn’t hesitate to answer: “Where I was at, everybody didn’t have a father. I always knew that [my father] would be there…everybody didn’t have a dad and everybody was going down the same path. I wanted to diverge. I just decided to go live with my dad,” he adds, “he’s taught me so much stuff.” Though his mom was initially upset, she understood the reason behind moving from Memphis to live with his father. Malik tells us he saw a lot of suffering in Memphis; a lot of violence. Being here in Momence has allowed him to pave his own way in a safe environment.
So what are his plans? He has a few things that he wants to ‘dabble in.’ “I’ve always loved making music,” he says, “But I also want to have something that that my mom and dad could be proud of and I could pass on to my kids. So I also wanted to have a company. I wanted to start either my own label and a clothing brand.” Malik may have a few more steps to go toward owning his own label, but he already has the music angle covered. He plays piano, guitar, and ‘a little’ violin.
A running theme in his life, he doesn’t plan to answer to anyone if he can help it. Ever since I was young, he’s never pictured himself working for anybody else, sharing, “I always wanted to work for myself. Get money for myself and be my own boss.”
This self-sustaining attitude will carry him into a gap year after he graduates, so he can focus on his music and getting his clothing brand off the ground. Afterward, he has his sights on attending the business college at Emory University in Atlanta. “Atlanta is really big in entrepreneurship,” he explains, “I feel like there’s a lot I could learn out there in school and everything because it’s like, people don’t know Georgia runs a lot of the music industry.”
If Malik were offered a magic wand that could grant him anything, he would refuse to use it. “I don’t like taking the easy route,” he says, “It’s like a cheat.” The wonders a magic wand can do are nothing compared to the ‘miracles’ of which he describes his mom being capable. “There was a point in time where we didn’t really have a lot,” he says, “We were living with my grandmom and looking for the next thing. She moved us out of their house and into our own house. I had my own room, like I had my own stuff. I didn’t know how she did it.”
His mother’s determination to provide made a profound impression on him: “I adore that and I just chalked it up to her always being a hard worker.”
Malik hopes to model his mother’s work ethic as he pursues his career in business and music. He’s by no means short on ideas. “It’s like my mind wanders. I have my mind on something and then something else above it is in my head. And then I’m like, ‘That’s a great idea as well, and then I’m focused on this idea.’” Head bursting with hot new ideas, Malik is wandering, head high and eyes forward, toward a tomorrow with its open arms for the bold among us. Like Malik.