When alumna Taylor Dickerson ’21 threw her cap last spring, little did she know she would trade it out for a Hawaiian flower lei.
Last spring, Dickerson had her life planned out as graduation approached. Rather than take a fifth year, she pushed to graduate on time with her double English and philosophy major and looked into grad school for philosophy. After a spring break trip to Hawaii, everything changed.
Dickerson heard about a job opening at Trinity Christian School, a classical Christian school in Oahu, Hawaii.
“I applied, and I got accepted, and even though I didn’t want to teach, I had a feeling from God that I needed to give up everything,” Dickerson said.
Lauren Wiggins, one of Dickerson’s best friends of more than 18 years, was right beside her during the entire application process.
“When she first told me she officially accepted the offer and was moving to Hawaii, I was equal parts excited and proud,” Wiggins said. “I knew that she would make an incredible teacher and have such a blast living in Hawaii, so I was excited for her to experience that.”
Just over two months ago, on July 25, Dickerson packed her bags and settled in Kailua, a town on the east coast of Oahu.
Dickerson accepted a position as the kindergarten prep teacher at Trinity Christian. She only planned to live in Hawaii for a gap year to prepare for her law school application, but said she could also see herself staying there longer.
“I was told it would be hard to meet people out here, but I’ve been super blessed with good friendships and a great community,” Dickerson said.
During her training at Trinity Christian, Dickerson met Kaley Nellans, the preschool aide, and they quickly became friends.
Nellans has lived in Hawaii her whole life and attended Trinity Christian preschool through senior year.
“There has never been anyone around my age that has moved out to Hawaii where I have worked, so it has been an absolute blessing to become friends with Taylor,” Nellans said.
Nellans has travelled to many other states before, including spending a year of college in Arizona, but moved back to Hawaii soon after to continue work and school online.
“Hawaii has been my home for my entire life, so being on this island has been such a blessing, the culture and ‘Aloha’ spirit is like no other,” Nellans said. “Everything about this island is unique and I love when new people can come and explore my home with me.”
Although Dickerson had visited Hawaii last year on spring break, she said it has been very different living there full time.
“When you come here on vacation, it’s fun, but when you live here it’s totally different,” Dickerson said. “There’s a different language you’re learning, street names are really hard to say, and I’m teaching at a school where kids are from Hawaii.”
As Dickerson adjusts to big cultural differences, she said it feels like living in a different country. Wiggins has never been to Hawaii, but hopes to visit Dickerson early next year.
“Taylor has only been in Hawaii for a little over a month and has already discovered so many cool places and met some amazing people so I’m excited for her to be able to show me around her new home,” Wiggins said.
Above all, Wiggins said she’s excited to hear about all the adventures Dickerson gets to have.
“I love watching this adventure unfold and hearing all of her stories about places she’s traveling to and memories she’s making with all of her new friends,” Wiggins said.
As Dickerson prepares for the school year, she said the peace she feels is incomparable, and her advice is simple.
“I’ve been so at peace with God’s plan because everything has been working out so perfectly,” Dickerson.
“My biggest recommendation is to take a gap year right after college,” Dickerson said. “And if that means moving out to Hawaii, then do it.”