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TOPS founder given highest Loyola honor

Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013

Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 17:12

Phyllis M. Taylor

Phyllis M. Taylor chairwoman and president of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation

Loyola recently granted its highest honor to a woman who has helped Louisiana students with strong academic performances attend college for more than two decades.

An exemplary individual is annually chosen as the recipient of the Integritas Vitae Award, an honor bestowed only on those who represent the Jesuit ideals of high moral character and a commitment to selflessness in the service of others.

Phyllis M. Taylor, chairwoman and president of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, was granted the award and was recognized at the 1912 Society Dinner on Dec. 5 at the Roosevelt New Orleans.

Phyllis M. Taylor and her late husband, Patrick F. Taylor, founded the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation in 1985 with the vision of providing educational opportunities for Louisiana high school students with the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, or TOPS.

TOPS is a merit-based, state-paid college tuition fund granted to high school students enrolled in Louisiana schools. Different levels of TOPS are awarded to students based on their grades and ACT scores.

This past August, the Patrick F. Foundation pledged a total of $1.26 million to Loyola, offering seven $15,000 scholarships to first-generation college students every year for the next 12 years.

Madeline Janney, TOPS recipient and psychology sophomore, said she believes that some of her high school classmates wouldn’t have gone to college without TOPS.

“I think that because it covers a lot of the tuition of a state school, some people wouldn’t have gone to college if they hadn’t had it because they can’t just come up with that much money,” Janney said.

Jessica Harrell, biology sophomore, said she always worried about paying for college and admitted that she wouldn’t have made it to Loyola without financial support from TOPS.

“It was never an option because in my class, that’s how everybody expected to go to college, to get their TOPS,” said Harrell. “I love Loyola, but I definitely would have never had the opportunity to come here if it wasn’t for TOPS.”

Mary Graci can be contacted at 

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