For Taylor “Ellie” Whalen ‘25, what began as a creative outlet has evolved into a love for the written word and a competitive hobby. Since her arrival at Gulliver in the fourth grade, Ellie has been recognized in several writing competitions, most recently winning the under-16 category in the Authors on Eighth Writing Contest for her short story submission. She was also a top 10 finalist in the 2021 Junior Orange Bowl Creative Writing Contest, and has won first place (short story) and a pair of second place (poetry) awards in the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair Creative Writing Competition. Read on to learn more about her favorite genres, who inspires her to write, and more.
Q: How, and when, did you become so interested in writing? Why do you like to write?
A: I became interested in writing around seventh grade when I realized that writing was a creative outlet. Even though I wasn’t very skilled, I would make it a point to jot down how I felt that day. Slowly, I could put those thoughts into poems or stories. I liked what I saw on the page so I began writing competitively. I like to write because it feels like a safe haven; a place where I can vent.
Q: Who inspires you to write? Is there a particular teacher you look to as a mentor, and why?
A: My former eighth grade English teacher, Mrs. Gonzalez, inspires me to write. Mrs. G helped me understand the importance of cutting my feathers and flying; to essentially be unapologetically me. I feel that is one of the most important life lessons someone can ever learn. Mrs. G has also guided me through some of my first writing competitions and helped me find other opportunities to showcase my talent.
Q: What is your favorite genre to write, and why? Is that genre your favorite to read, as well?
A: Memoirs are my favorite genre to write in. I like writing memoirs because I can speak from my own experience, give in-depth detail, and even offer wisdom. Surprisingly, my favorite genre to read is horror. I feel like the stories keep me on the edge of my seat.
Q: It’s your first year at the Upper School. What is your favorite part of high school so far, and what are you most looking forward to?
A: My favorite part of high school is the freedom; you are treated like an adult. I look forward to getting my license and driving myself to school.
Q: How has Gulliver Prep pushed you to discover your full potential as a writer, student, and overall person?
A: With its rigorous curriculum, outstanding teachers, and endless opportunities, Gulliver has trained me to become an overall well-rounded individual. It has taught me to harness my creative abilities and transform my feelings into powerful stories that have the potential to inspire others. Gulliver has also shown me I should never give up and hide in the dark. Instead, I should persevere and be proud of all of my hard work and accomplishments, as it will pay off in the end. Whether it be academic, athletic, or other extracurricular endeavors, Gulliver strives for all of its students to thrive in their inclusive environment.
Q: What are your future aspirations when it comes to writing? Any other future plans you have in mind?
A: I plan to participate in many writing competitions around the world. As for my career, I want to be a research doctor so that means a lot of writing. I hope to get my research published.
Raider rapid fire!
Favorite book: 1984 by George Orwell
Favorite thing to eat at school: Plantain chips
Your go-to Starbucks order: Iced matcha tea latte
Favorite Middle School memory: The Gulliver Yard
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