As children bow onstage in their blue jeans and ballet slippers, the curtains close on the Clayton Center of the Arts’ last in-person event of the year and the last event that Caroline Taylor, formerly Caroline Stuart, will oversee as the CCA’s Event Coordinator.
She turned in her resignation two weeks prior to the event, informing her coworkers and staff before preparing to end her employment of three years and a Maryville College journey of many more.
Maryville was one of the two colleges Taylor was considering in high school, having remembered passing by the campus every time she would visit her aunt. Despite always saying “I don’t know” when asked about where she was going to school, Taylor found herself talking about Maryville College first and foremost. The liberal arts education appealed to her desire to study a variety of disciplines beyond music, her intended track of study, and she fell in love with the CCA when she toured the college.
Still, she credits a gut feeling as the deciding factor in choosing Maryville.
“It was just right,” Taylor said. “Every time I was on campus, every time I went to their website, every time I had a conversation with someone to go there, I knew it was right.”
After she was enrolled and on campus as a freshman, Taylor’s parents revealed that she was actually a five-generation legacy of the college. According to Taylor, her family did not want the fact that her great-great grandparents, great grandparents, grandmother, and uncle all went to Maryville to influence her decision.
“It makes sense why I had a feeling,” Taylor said. “It was because it was such a historical piece of the puzzle for me.”
It was as early as the fall semester of her freshman year that Taylor began collecting the puzzle pieces that she would later use to create the picture of her life. She met Kevin Taylor, the man that would later become her husband, during freshman orientation, and the two became best friends. Despite falling out of touch when he left Maryville, they reconnected her junior year and began dating.
“We saw each other in a new light. We had matured, and the rest is history.”
Taylor also began working at the CCA as a production assistant that same semester, an experience she claims had the biggest impact on her life at Maryville. It was the first job she had ever had, and she quickly learned that she loved to work. She stayed with the CCA for all four years of her education, and during that time she learned that she also loves to talk
. “I can kind of talk about anything if you ask me to, so that’s why I’m always the person to test microphones. If anyone asks me to test a microphone, I’ll talk for an hour.”
Taylor also discovered a love for working with people and had planned to move to Montana with Kevin to pursue a career in hospitality. However, when the CCA decided to reorganize the structure of its staff during her senior year, and the new position of Event Coordinator was created and needed to be filled, Taylor quickly changed her plans.
She quit her Back of House position in order to work with the Front of House during the spring of her senior year to learn more about the job. Taylor said she was chosen “by the luck of the draw,” and she started her full-time employment with the CCA the day after she graduated.
However, according to Jake Reagan, the Director of Event Services for the CCA, Taylor was chosen, not because of luck, but because of the impression she made with the staff. He said that whenever there was a shift, or something that needed to be done, Taylor was always the first to volunteer.
Her job included facilitating all events that were hosted by the CCA or run by its staff. She had the important task of coordinating the Front of House needs of the client with the Back of House operation during each event.
“It is like a puzzle, and I have to put all of the pieces together, which I love,” Taylor said.
She eventually took on a supervisory role, being able to manage and hire her own staff, which Reagan believed suited her well.
“She’s very highly efficient,” Reagan said. “She’s got a fantastic work ethic. I’ve never seen one better. Dedicated to the job, dedicated to the clients, dedicated to the students. Wanted to teach the students.”
He pointed out that she wanted to hire the students not just to get the work done but also so she could help develop them just like she had developed as a student worker at the CCA.
Diamond Cronan, one of Taylor’s Student Event Coordinators, agreed with this sentiment, saying that during her three years working for Taylor, she taught her every single day. When recalling how she first met Taylor, Cronan said that the first thing she noticed was her smile.
“It is so warm and genuine, and she gives it to everyone even if she is having a bad day herself.”
She went on to say that Taylor put an importance into teamwork and never asked her staff to do anything that she herself was not willing to do.
Taylor cited her CCA family—her staff, Reagan, and other coworkers—as one of her favorite aspects of the job and one of the reasons she stayed so long. The other was the logistics aspect of the job.
“It’s like a game, a puzzle to make sure everyone’s time and money is most efficient,” Taylor said. “People and puzzles. I love them both so much and they are skills that you can take into any industry.”
When Taylor turned in her resignation, the general consensus was that people were not surprised that she was moving on but that it was happening so soon.
“Caroline is the kind of person that you can kind of tell that she’s bigger than this,” Reagan said. He said he always prepares for if a staff member leaves, and is a believer that everyone is replaceable, “but Caroline is about as irreplaceable as a person can be.”
Taylor has taken a job as the Concierge for Spiers Air Flight Training Center.
“It is the same job applied in a different industry. It is still a puzzle. The puzzle pieces are just a little different now.”
She said that when she saw the job listing, she felt that same gut feeling that she had with Maryville College.
Looking back on how she found the job, Taylor talked about the serendipity of how after weeks of not checking Indeed.com, she had decided to try again and happened to see the job listing that had been posted less than 24 hours earlier.
“The second you stop looking for something is the moment it appears and that can be for anything,” Taylor said. “The college you’re looking for. Your significant other, your job, the couch you want. Wait for that gut feeling. You can’t get obsessed with it. Don’t get obsessed with a dream you’re not ready for yet because you will get there. Her decision to leave was a difficult one, but Taylor felt that she had done everything that she could as the Event Coordinator for the CCA and was excited to move on to her next adventure.