Paducah Tilghman High School senior Jake Taylor is this year’s Inspiration Award winner for the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week program.
On Monday, a five-person selection committee from The Paducah Sun chose Taylor for the award out of 32 high school seniors, who were recognized as Teen of the Week during the school year. He will receive a $1,000 scholarship.
“It means a lot to me for sure,” Taylor told The Sun.
“Honestly, I am a little bit surprised, considering — just because there’s so many awesome kids in this town. I’m very thankful, and it means a lot that the selection committee thought what I was doing was valuable.”
In his Teen of the Week story, Taylor shared that he built his first computer as a freshman, after watching YouTube videos. It led him down the path to where he started “Create a Computer,” a 501c3 nonprofit, last year.
The 17-year-old student aims to study computer engineering at Purdue University in Indiana. He’s the son of Michael and Laura Taylor, of Paducah.
“I had a Thomas the Train obsession when I was little and now the school I’m going to — their mascot is a train, so it’s pretty funny,” he said.
At Paducah Tilghman, Taylor has earned a 4.055 cumulative weighted grade-point average. In school, Taylor served as team captain for cross country. He’s on the track and field team, co-president for Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and has been involved in other activities, such as speech team.
“I think computers are a huge asset to society, and the more that we can teach people how to keep them running, I think will benefit all of us,” he said.
He said an ability to build computers can be used as a trade skill too, whether that’s through fixing someone’s laptop or building a new computer for someone.
“I think what interests me the most, though, is how everything has a place,” he said. “Every piece of the computer that you’re building goes in a certain spot, and it’s almost like working a puzzle for me, which is really enjoyable.”
Create a Computer raised donations for computer parts and organized camps to teach computer building and maintenance skills, Taylor explained. One project involved a camp where local youth learned to build desktop computers that were installed at the Elmwood Court computer lab.
“In my work with the Oscar Cross Boys & Girls Club, I have seen the need and benefits of computers for children,” The Sun’s publisher, Bill Evans, said. “As I read Jake Taylor’s story, I found a young man that saw a need and acted on it. Sharing his knowledge of building of computers will inspire those children for a long time.”
Paducah Bank CEO Joe Framptom added that he was most impressed by Taylor’s work ethic, noting his dedication to “constant self-improvement” as a runner, and his summer work for Paducah Barge, which is a family business.
“He truly understands that hard work is necessary for achievement,” Framptom said.
As for what’s next, Taylor plans to host one or more laptop camps at the end of the school year, where seniors build laptops they can keep for college.
“That’s what’s next on the radar right now for Create a Computer,” he said. “The No. 1 thing that will decide how successful that is — is donations, so my next step is to solicit donations for Create a Computer to raise funds for the parts for the laptops students will be building.”
Obviously, with his sights set on computer engineering, Taylor said that he wants to work with computers in his future career.
“I’d love to have a job at some point in computer hardware, whether that be designing new parts to go in computers, or designing complete systems,” he added. “That’s what I feel like I would enjoy most, at this point in my life.”
See a video of Paducah Bank CEO Joe Framptom’s remarks on Teen of the Year Morgan Guess and Inspiration Award winner Jake Taylor at paducahsun.com.