Built a bit like a star high school football player, Taylor B. Evans '14 looks the part of a Marine. While he wears t-shirts and jeans even in the roughest of weather, on occasion the casual attire gives way to a green Marine Corps service uniform—the seams and cuts fit exactly over his broad shoulders and powerful arms. Evans looks like he could storm a beach at a moments notice, or maybe like he was born in uniform.
But for this five-year Marine Corps veteran, combat is a distant possibility. This semester, Evans, 23, enrolled at the College as a freshman.
Most of his fellow classmates arrived from America’s cities, suburbs, and prep-schools nervous about making friends, fitting in, and doing well. Evans arrived with a tour of duty under his belt, a wife, and a recently born daughter, Haley.
With his years in the Marine Corps, Evans is far from the typical freshman. Serious and intent—and with a family of his own to boot—Evans stands above and outside the community of students of which he is ostensibly a member.
Evans approaches his college experience with the same goals and expectations that he approaches the rest of his life—ultimately, he hopes to serve and contribute to society.
But these experiences also disconnect him from his fellow students, many of whom see military service as either a largely foreign concept or a rarely-considered option for the future.
Still, at a time when the University has garnered criticism for its alleged opposition to the military and what it represents, Evans’ experience also allows him to reconsider what it means for Harvard to produce individuals with a commitment to public service.
A SOLDIER AT HARVARD
A day in Evans’ life is unlike that of most other Harvard freshmen. As the last students shuffle out of Lamont Library at 4:45 a.m. on Monday, Evans starts his day,
He begins by driving from his apartment on the border of Cambridge and Belmont to Boston University, where he leads a Reserve Officer Training Corps unit in physical training. At 7 a.m. he returns home for a rest before taking the bus back to Harvard for a full day of classes that runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. While his evening schedule varies, he generally spends some time fulfilling ROTC obligations at MIT.
Evans passes much of his time during the week like other College students—reading and working on problem sets. But unlike other students, this often comes at the detriment of his spending time with his wife and daughter.
“He’s mastered having the book in one hand and the baby in the other,” says his wife, Stephanie Evans.
While Evans interacts with the other freshmen in his classes and occasionally participates in activities held for his Massachusetts Hall entryway, his contact with the rest of the student body has been limited. And a busy college schedule and the demands of caring for a small child limits the couple’s ability to meet people and make friends.
“People have come to visit, but I focus on the family, focus on the baby,” Stephanie says with a smile.
While raising a child may be tough, the couple says that for a military family they are extremely fortunate.