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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Thursday, May 30, 2024
The Echo
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Montgomery: Story behind the speaker

Senior shares TU experience

Aspiring biologist, cross-country runner, enthusiastic learner.

Senior Damon Montgomery has been chosen as the student commencement speaker for Taylor’s graduating class of 2024.

Montgomery’s older brother is a Taylor alumnus who was a cross-country runner and business major. This allowed Montgomery to visit Taylor numerous times for cross-country meets and get to know the campus and the community ahead of time. 

It became a second home where he could grow in his faith and his journey. With worship groups and scholarships lined up, he decided to make Taylor his next step.

“I really grew to know Taylor as a second home,” Montgomery said. “I knew it was a good place and I also wanted to experience the Christian community so I can grow closer to God and my relationship with them and other people. It’s hard to see what faith looks like as a teenager, and I didn’t really see much of that until I came to Taylor.”

Some of Montgomery’s favorite things about Taylor are the trees and flowers that surround campus. There are also all the people who are playing music and the late-night events that everyone attends. 

Montgomery enjoys going to chapel, describing it as a unique experience. Something that he enjoys about worship at Taylor is that he gets to do so with several people around his age who are studying what they enjoy the most.

During his freshman year, Montgomery lived in Gerig Hall. 

He said that his journey in getting to know people and making friends was off to a rocky start due to COVID-19 protocols during his freshman year. Students felt as if they had to stay confined in their rooms, according to Montgomery. 

Nevertheless, there were still people that he enjoyed getting to know, and he claimed to have had great leaders. 

“Gerig was a great place,” Montgomery said. “I had some really awesome PAs and DAs who planned a ton of events, and we had a great time together. So, I’m really grateful for that.”

For his next two years, he lived in Bergwall Hall. Finally, he lived in Campbell Hall during his senior year.

Some of the other groups of people that Montgomery enjoyed getting to know were his fellow biology majors and his cross-country team.

As a biology major, Montgomery loved learning in his classes more than anything, and it was his main reason for attending Taylor. One of his favorite activities was his lab research on fruit flies.

“We have a really fancy microscope that allows us to do really high precision imaging of cells over time using fluorescence,” Montgomery said. “So the cells fluoresce and we can actually see the embryos developing, and I can actually study developmental genetics and what drives the formation of our bodies using that.”

Montgomery mentioned Jessica Baker, associate professor of biology, as having a great impact on his learning. She has taught him everything that he knows about conducting lab research, but also how to approach scientific research while being a Christian role model.

In his journey of faith, Montgomery feels like he has grown in his ability to talk to those he trusts about his faith. This kind of social discipleship helps to understand oneself, others and God further.

“It makes it more real and kind of puts it into perspective,” Montgomery said. “There’s little interactions like in the prayer chapel when I get to actually talk to people. Or just like calling my mom. We have really good conversations about our faith and what we’re doing and are we doing good at it.”

Another form of discipleship that Montgomery enjoys is Sing, Pray, Reflect during chapel time.

One of Montgomery’s favorite moments at Taylor is the Footsteps of Paul trip he took to Greece and Italy during his sophomore year. During the trip, he had the opportunity to befriend several students.

"The island of Hydra is a really cool experience,” Montgomery said. “It’s an island with no cars or anything on it. We just sat down and had a cup of coffee on the edge of the sea”

Some of the things that Montgomery hopes to be remembered for are his research in the fruit fly lab, the protocols that he wrote, the transgenic line and data that he developed.

Montgomery’s next plan is to work at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital and receive a Ph.D. in molecular and developmental biology.

Although Montgomery is ready to pursue the next part of his journey, he is grateful for all the memories made at Taylor.