Alumna Taylor McElwain ’19 Shares Her Prayer Wall Podcast, “Listen Up”
Campus News

Taylor McElwainWith her signature poetic style, host Taylor McElwain delivers a hybrid religious sermon and pep talk while tackling topics such as racial inequality, sex shaming, anxiety and jealousy. The podcast is geared toward women and conveys McElwain’s personal belief system founded on Christianity, but she strives to give encouragement and inspiration to everyone, no exceptions. She begins each show with a welcome to “the broken, the healers and the overcomers, and those who need a little bit of faith, inspiration or sometimes both.”

Her inspiration for the podcast series came at the height of the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

“In April, I was feeling like the world had become a wild space filled with chaos and anxiety. With everything from being quarantined and fed scare tactics by the media, to seeing more examples of police brutality and hearing so much criticism of Black Lives Matter, it was a time of misery. I was at my worst,” McElwain said.

“I told God I didn’t want to spend another month feeling like that. I kept praying about how to make May a month of fruitfulness, and I wrote a list of intentions that I made myself work through.”

And she listened.

“God kept telling me to use my voice,” McElwain said.

The message resonated with McElwain, who gained significant confidence from speaking at Franklin College events, where she often helped represent the Black Student Union and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and occasionally helped lead chapel.

“College is when I began recognizing the power in my voice,” she said.

Still, there was one problem with launching her own podcast.

“I was obsessed with listening to podcasts, but I had no idea how to make one! I definitely questioned God and my ability, at times, but you really can learn how to do anything from YouTube.”

Naming the podcast was much simpler. Since her days at Franklin, McElwain has maintained a dedicated wall space for Post-it® Notes, which she uses as daily reminders to PRAY. To her, the letters represent “peace, repent, ask and yield,” and they help guide her spiritual journey. She looks at her prayer wall of joys, worries and goals for inspiration when she wakes, and for reflection before she goes to sleep.

“I’m singlehandedly keeping the Post-it® Notes company in business,” she quipped.

In conjunction with her 23rd birthday in July, McElwain released her first Prayer Wall Podcast, and has continued producing one every first and third Monday of the month.

Her podcast studio is her dorm room at Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio, where she is a second-year master’s degree student in the higher-education program. She is planning to pursue her doctorate in sociology and has long-term goals of specializing in working with lower-income and first-generation students, like herself. McElwain already is involved in launching a free pantry on her campus for students impacted by food insecurity; she is collaborating with members of Ohio Campus Compact, AmeriCorps and the university’s Center for Community Engagement to implement plans.

Besides McElwain’s campus activism, the podcast is furthering her life’s mission of helping people.

“I didn’t have an easy start in life; I’m an overcomer,” McElwain said. “By sharing experiences, whether my own or those of friends in my circle, I’m uplifting other women and supporting them in their journey. For some, the podcast is the push they need to get counseling and continue healing from whatever they’ve had to overcome.”

McElwain was overjoyed when her podcast series gained international subscribers within the first month.

“I’ve had people reaching out after a podcast to tell me the topic was something they’ve been struggling with, and that they were positively impacted by the content, and that’s my confirmation that God is using me in an incredible way to preach, teach and reach. I feel so honored to know he’s using my voice.”

(Republished from the Franklin College Magazine, Fall 2020)

POSTED Jan 28, 2021