Taylor Dupree | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Taylor Dupree

Photo courtesy Bates Photography

Photo courtesy Bates Photography

Student-athlete Taylor Dupree has lived on the same street—and in the same house—all her life, so when the University of Tennessee at Martin offered her a chance to play basketball, she jumped at the chance. "I wanted to go explore somewhere different, and I felt like it was a good school for me," Dupree says of her choice.

The Northwest Rankin High School senior also plans to take advantage of the Skyhawks' ranking as the number-one nursing school in Tennessee to pursue her dream of becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner, a goal she set for herself as a member of her school's health science academy. As someone who loves children, the field appealed to her.

NWR's academy requires its students to obtain clinical hours in order to successfully complete the program, a fact that originally startled Dupree.

"At first, I didn't want to be in the medical field," Dupree recalls. "But my mom has a friend who is a pediatric nurse practitioner. She was able to get me to come shadow her, and I realized something it was something I actually liked doing."

Dupree feels confident in her ability to manage the demands of Division-I conference athletics in addition to her nursing coursework, as she often played two to three varsity sports at a time while managing a full slate of high school classes. "I try to get all my work done in class and stay on top of everything so that after-school is a time for me to focus on sports or go to work," Dupree says.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic challenged 
Dupree's sense of balance, though, and when her practice schedules became more irregular as a result, she prioritized her athletics and academics by quitting her part-time job at a 
local restaurant. "It's honestly been kind of a process, and I had to balance that. My parents were in a good spot to be able to provide for me during that time," she admits. "But when the season was over, I started a new job."

Her teammates lauded her efforts at putting them first, voting her "Most Impactful Player" for the 2020-2021 school year. "I felt like I had a good impact on my team, so it means a lot to me," Dupree says of the honor, which came alongside an accolade for Best Offensive Player. "Our teammates voted (on who should receive the award), so it meant a lot to me that my teammates thought that about me."

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