A Spotlight on BET’s Aulston Taylor
As part of an ongoing effort to highlight employees within Viacom whose work in the community deserves the spotlight in itself, we recently connected with Aulston Taylor, Sr. Account Executive at BET Networks.
Aulston Taylor exemplifies the true spirit of Viacom. On the job, he’s boosted BET Network’s roster of clients by a dozen or more advertisers in the last 24 months and was named 40 Under 40 by Texas Southern University’s Business School, his undergraduate alma mater. Off the job, he’s most recently doubled downed on his education by graduating from NYU with his Masters in Integrated Marketing focused on Brand Management.
Aulston has spent his entire life striving and demanding excellence for himself and while his job may require him to be in New York, Aulston has done anything but leave New Orleans, his hometown, behind. He is connected to the city in more ways than one; specifically, his commitment to the youth of New Orleans.
Aulston was raised in New Orleans by a single mom and witnessed financial hardships from a young age. Support for his upbringing came in the form of many individuals including his mom, teachers, coaches, aunts, uncles, cousins, priests, grandparents and best friends’ parents.
With help from multiple scholarship donors, Aulston was fortunate to attend and graduate from St. Augustine High School, a prestigious all-black boys’ Catholic institution.
Understanding the impact the community and St. Augustine had on his life, mixed with the help of his colleagues and loyal network of friends, the “Aulston G. Taylor Scholarship Fund” was born in 2013 to support young men hailing from single parent households at his alma mater, St. Augustine High School.
The requirements to apply for the scholarship are all ones in which Aulston once represented as a student. A main requirement is being involved in an extracurricular activity at the school such as the ones Aulston once did by way of athletics and being a server at lunch time.
The candidates also must write an essay in which they describe what it means to be a Purple Knight (the school’s mascot). The young men aren’t being scrutinized for grammar or analytical ability, the deciding committee (Aulston and his mother) aren’t looking for enticing arguments, they are looking for emotion and substance. They are looking for character and soul.
“They have to earn the investment,” Taylor says. Once earned, there’s a responsibility that now falls on the recipients and their parents. The single parent is expected to get involved with the school by participating in volunteer work for a minimum of one activity and the student must donate $10 a month in the form of a hard check to the Aulston G. Taylor Scholarship fund. This repeated act gets the young men in the habit of giving back from a young age.
“As investors of people and human capital, if we don’t do our part then society stays stagnant,” Taylor explains. Knowing that government funds used to support education and learning facilities are shrinking, Taylor calls on us to take action. “Helping others is not only a responsibility that we have as citizens, but it is our duty, and while we may not be in government seats, it’s important to act as independent contractors to build out our communities. It’s on us to keep that pipeline of funding available,” Taylor says. Coming from a single parent household, Aulston feels that while he can’t replace a missing parent, lending support where there is a deficiency is an earnest attempt to level the playing field and provide everyone with a fighting chance to succeed.
At this year’s graduation the setting was a bit different than others that Taylor has attended; typically, two seniors receive funding under Aulston’s scholarship that pays for half a year’s tuition. This year, however, a miraculous encounter occurred and Aulston took on an extra scholar mid-way through the school year. On a winter visit to his alma mater, Aulston was informed of a young man who was behind by nearly a year and a half’s tuition due to his mom’s numerous cancer treatments. After a short conversation with the finance office, and prior to ever meeting the young man, Aulston relieved he and his mother of all their debt to the school. In May of 2018, Aulston witnessed these three young men under his scholarship receive their diplomas.
“When I attended graduation this year, there was a moment where it really felt surreal to know that just 20 years ago my mom was struggling to pay for me to be able to get through my four years of high school, and so literally sitting there watching the three young men who I invested in walk across that stage, it hit me of how significant the moment was. I actually shed a tear because I realized that this was something that I said I would do once able and capable.”
The good news, for all of us, is that Aulston’s story is far from over. As a mentor over the next couple of years, he seeks to invest in ten new scholars under the Aulston G. Taylor Scholarship Fund. He also plans to train and equip the young minds of twelve new interns at BET Networks and extend his reach into the Viacommunity’s Unlimited Potential partners program we have here at Viacom.
Giving back is in Aulston Taylor’s blood; he’s dedicated to the communities he serves, wherever they may be. He exudes a natural passion for making the world a better place. And just as he paid it forward by creating more opportunities for students at St. Augustine High School, one can only hope that Aulston’s strong example sets a chain of good deeds that continues for generations to come.
If you would like to support organizations Aulston and Viacom are involved in, please click on one of the following links below: