Student and Alumni Spotlights

Taylor Pickett-Stokes

Taylor Pickett-Stokes (MPAP/MSW ’24) takes the stage in “Black Girl Magic”

reposted with permission of Mercer County Community College

A dual Master of Public Affairs and Politics/Master of Social Work candidate, Taylor Pickett-Stokes took to the stage at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) Kelsey Theatre March 1-3 with Virginia-based Underground Performing Arts Collective (UPAC) and their presentation of “Black Girl Magic.”

“Black Girl Magic” is a powerful story that combines poetry, monologues, and conventional drama with film. It is the tale of Sister, a young Black woman, struggling to find a place of acceptance in the world. Guided by the Ancestors, African Warrior Queens, Sister comes to a place of self-reconciliation and acceptance as she is given a glimpse into the lives and legacy of Black women, past and present. Taylor plays multiple roles, including Harriet, Stacy Abrams, Mahalia Jackson, Celie and as a Church Medley singer.

Taylor is a graduate of Hamilton High School West and a 2013 graduate of MCCC with a degree in Fine Arts and a minor in Psychology. She went on to attend Montclair State University, where she majored in Theatre Studies, with a minor in Sociology, graduating in 2015. After graduation she traveled and worked with at-risk youth, the homeless, and formerly incarcerated individuals. She will be completing dual master’s degrees from Rutgers School of Social Work and Rutgers Bloustein School (Master of Public Affairs and Politics) this semester.

It was an online call for auditions that first drew Pickett-Stokes to the UPAC, as she found the “Black Girl Magic” project intriguing. Driven by the stress and challenges of graduate school, she found the need to get back into a creative space and committed to making frequent trips to UPAC’s rehearsals in Suffolk, Va., to prepare for the show.

Taylor credits her time at Mercer as an inspiration to take on new challenges and expand her horizons, and embrace her love of the arts.

“If not for the wonderful people and teachers that I had at Mercer, I don’t know how my life would have played out otherwise,” Taylor said. “Being a student at Mercer allowed me to take advantage of opportunities that have changed the scope of my approach in life, such as study abroad, theater, relationship building and giving back. My pursuits after graduation were built upon those very core things that I obtained while at Mercer.

“I learned to build meaningful relationships inside and outside of the arts. I feel that the arts are a universal language, so it is foundational to a lot of the connections I have made and maintained over the years.”