Photos by Mauro Whiteman
As freshmen flooded downtown this weekend, nervously facing the start of their college careers, one event Sunday offered a much-needed icebreaker for both the incoming students and the community.
The second annual TaylorFest has been a collaborative effort between ASU and Taylor Place, sponsored by the Student Residential College Advisory Board, a student group comprised of representatives from each of the residential colleges in Taylor Place.
“The big highlight of the night centers around performances by local up-and-coming bands, and free food provided by downtown restaurants,” said Shannon Conley, Community Coordinator at ASU.
Several restaurant and bar owners jumped at the opportunity to meet new students and offer free samples of their signature dishes.
“It’s been great taking part in the pioneering of the Downtown campus,” Howard said. “We love being down here.”
This year was Howard’s second time participating at TaylorFest, and he said he plans to continue in the future.
In addition to several repeat participants, TaylorFest hosted many newcomers eager to become known among the student body.
Songbird Coffee & Tea House, which opened in July, was one of many establishments offering free food and promotions. Owner Jonathan Carroll, a graduate of ASU, said the event was a great chance to be part of a tradition he loves.
“We’re all about community,” said Carroll, referring to his fellow shop owners along Roosevelt Avenue.
Several sports organizations were represented as well, including the Phoenix Suns and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Highlighting the vibrancy and diversity of Phoenix, the Arizona Science Center and the Phoenix Symphony showed up to interact with students interested in arts and culture.
“The overall goal of TaylorFest is to connect new students to the local downtown Phoenix community,” Conley said.
Alexis Wadas, a nursing student beginning her freshman year downtown, was enjoying the festivities after moving into her new room at Taylor Place early Sunday morning.
“I feel like it’s been non-stop, all day,” Wadas said, “If it’s like this every weekend, it would keep me from ever getting bored.”
In addition to fun and entertainment, another major goal of Taylorfest and those involved was to provide internships and job opportunities to new students and get them excited for their future. By networking with the various organizations present, students were given opportunities to get ahead of the curve.
Another freshman, Madison Carrillo, said her biggest concern before moving downtown was job hunting.
“I was pretty impressed with the career opportunities tonight,” she said.
“It’s a party with a purpose,” Conley said, regarding last year’s event. “The overall goal of TaylorFest is to expand the understanding of the various ways to volunteer, get engaged and have fun in the downtown Phoenix community. Ultimately, we want our students to understand that they are citizens of the place that they live.”
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