Alumni Profile: Amber Taggard, Class of 2002

 

When did you graduate, and what was your major?

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2002, Masters of Science in Clinical Mental Health in 2009. 


Why did you choose Henderson?

I chose Henderson for a combination of reasons: It was far enough from home to be my own experience, while still being an easy drive to see my family; I loved the campus - both for its size and beauty, and also for its student to teacher ratio; and I was awarded an academic scholarship that covered the cost of my tuition. 


Who were your best friends while attending Henderson, and are you still friends with them today?

Melissa Muchmore; Gena Parker (now Cox); Gary Michaelson; Landon Coomer; Casey Graham...I'm happy to say I'm still friends with all of them, even if we don't get to see each other in person as often as we'd like. My very best Henderson friend ended up being the man I married, Justen Taggard, and I'm happy to say he's still my BFF nearly 19 years later. 


Who were your favorite professors?

As an undergraduate, Dr. Travis Langley was especially influential for me. Not only was he my advisor, but he brought the principles that he taught to life in a way that was fascinating and memorable. In graduate school. I worked closely with the genuinely wonderful Dr. Blair Olson as HSU got ready to undergo, and then embarked on, the process of applying for CACREP accreditation. In the classroom, Dr. Charles Wiener helped me to understand statistical analysis as I never had before and imparted a skill set I still use to this day. I also still regularly hear myself say and think things that Dr. Richard Schmid taught me. Dr. Michael Kelly, who was my grad school advisor, genuinely cared about his students, and also taught with a candor and realism that was refreshing and impactful. 


What is your current occupation?

I'm a professional organizer and owner of The Organizer Chicks, serving Northwest Arkansas, as well as the Kansas City metro area.  My crew of 16 "chicks" and I help people who feel like they aren't getting the best bang for their buck out of their spaces, or who are going through life transitions...from births to deaths, marriage or divorce, up-sizing or down-sizing...and we do so often by coaching our clients to let go of excess and by creating systems of organization, while teaching them how to maintain what we've put in place. 


How did Henderson prepare you for your career?

My experiences at Henderson helped me to know how to research and analyze the information I gathered so that numbers held real-world meaning for me. I learned to work hard, to ask for help from proper sources when needed, and maybe more than anything, my experiences at Henderson taught me that I was indeed empowered: I could face difficulties and succeed, and I had the work ethic and foundations of knowledge I needed to build on.  


What is your favorite memory of Henderson?

What I can tell you is that every fun/funny/zany/memorable experience I had at HSU all comes down to one thing: the people alongside me in my journey. From my Honors College friends to Smith Hallmates; to Chad Fielding and Pam Ligon; to Jim Cook and my time as a resident advisor in the A.C.E. Program; to Student Mobilization; to Spring Fling: to Mary Jo Mann and the Pine Tree Speech; to days on the Quad and nights at the Street Dance...awesome, wonderful, amazing people were and still are the heart of Henderson. 

When’s the last time you have been on the Henderson campus?

It's been far too long.  I worked as a recruiter for HSU for several years after I finished my undergraduate degree, and finished my masters then moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2009. 


What other job do you think you’d be really good at?

I'd love to do exactly what I'm doing right now, but do it as the host of an HGTV-style television show.  I want the world to see what the process of hands-on organization really looks like and that there's no such thing as a one-size-fits all approach, and no list of hard and fast "rules."


How do you relax after a hard day of work?

Reading in a quiet place.  I like to go back and forth between books that are fun and light and books that are more studious and heavy in nature. 


Who do you admire the most, and why?

My husband, Justen.  He's honestly the best person I know.  He is genuine, hard-working, and a man of integrity and patience.  He is constantly working to improve himself and become a better Dad to our 4 kids (Ryan, 8; Evan, 7; Lana 4; and Owen, 2).


What are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years.

I'm looking forward to seeing the growth that comes from the seeds that have been planted this decade.  In my children, I'm anxious to see who they will become.  What will they like? Value? Want to do with their own lives? In my company, I'm anxious to see just how many additional locations of The Organizer Chicks we can populate the U.S. with. 


What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?

Travel alone.  There's nothing quite like purposeful time with no distractions from your own thoughts and feelings to make sure you truly know and like your travel companion. 


What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned?

Planning is important and it has its place, but sometimes life gives you opportunities you feel like you aren't ready for, don't have the skills for, or are flat-out scared of.  Whenever possible, take a deep breath and say, "Yes!"...then get to work on figuring out how to make it happen. 


What are three interesting facts about you?

1. I wear a fancy hat to church every Sunday.  I know they're not quite the style these days, but I just love them. 

2. I never learned to cook.  I went from my parent's house, to the dorm, to a home with my husband, and lucky for me he not only knows how to cook, but really enjoys it. 

3. I worked in a slaughterhouse as a teenager.  I hated it at the time, but looking back, I can see what a blessing it was.  I learned that I'm capable of doing downright disgusting and difficult labor, and no job I'll ever do again will be the grossest thing I've ever done. 

If your life was a book, what would its title be?

“She Wasn't Really Sure She Could, But She Surrounded Herself With Great People and Tried Really Hard Anyway, So She Did: The Amber Taggard Story”


If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what would it be?

Make your bed every morning.  It sends the message to yourself that the time for sleep is over and the time for productivity is here and is a great way to start your day with a win.  A made bed is a quick and easy way to beautify your little corner of the earth, and the best news is that, because success begets success, you'll enjoy the boost from checking something off your to-do list at the very beginning of your day, and it'll spur you on to further achievements.