Alumna follows in the footsteps of her grandmother, one of UM’s first Black graduates

University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School alumna reflects on her lifelong connection to UM.
Alumna follows in the footsteps of her grandmother, one of UM’s first Black graduates

Jessica Taylor Storey’s romance with the University of Miami is one that spans over three generations of Black women fueled with perseverance and grit.

Grandmother Thirty-five years after opening its doors for classes, the University of Miami admitted its first Black students. Among those students, was Ollie McQueen, Jessica Taylor's grandmother, an unsuspecting future 'Cane.

Jessica’s grandfather worked as a house painter and her grandmother as a maid on Star Island, Miami Beach in the 1960's. One day while meeting up after a long day of work, Jessica's grandfather watched her grandmother struggling to carry a cleaning machine. What came after that seemingly insignificant moment was a commitment to help propel his wife, who had graduated high school at the age of 16 as Valedictorian, to greater things.

With news of UM accepting Black student applications, the McQueen family took a leap.

Fast forward to June 7, 1964, Ollie McQueen became one of the first Black University of Miami graduates earning a bachelor’s degree in education. An achievement filled with unapologetic pride for her and her entire family. It was Jessica's grandmother that instilled the importance and value of an education for her. Ollie McQueen went on to teach at Miami-Dade County Public Schools for over 30 years before retiring.

"I feel like I can dream of anything and achieve it. Because of everything my grandmother, parents, and aunt experienced and struggled through to earn their degrees and accomplish their goals, I know I can do anything,” said Jessica.

Up next, Jessica’s mother, B. Karen Taylor.

When Jessica was in middle and high school, she was already a ’Cane at heart. Her mother worked for the UM Athletics department, first with the women’s basketball team and then, the men’s basketball team. Jessica would frequently tag along for games. In 2013, her mother retired while working within the Dean of Students Office.

When it was finally her turn to go off to college, Jessica knew there was nowhere else she wanted to be other than UM. 

In 2019, she earned her MBA from Miami Herbert Business School. As a student, she participated in the Urban Land Institute/Hines Commercial Real Estate Competition where she was the finance and marketing lead. Her team received an honorable mention and placed Top 15 out of 90 teams nationwide.

Currently, Jessica is a real estate broker-associate for Keller Williams Realty and part of Keller Williams Sports & Entertainment Division, where she helps athletes and entertainers begin their investment journey. She believes in paying it forward in her work, and in the community.

When she's not calling her first-time home buyer clients to let them know their offer was accepted, she is volunteering and donating to local organizations like The Miami Rescue Mission, a faith-based agency serving individuals who are homeless and in need in South Florida; and The Over town Youth Center, a youth development program that provides comprehensive services to at-risk youth – from kindergarteners to 25-year-olds – and their families, all of whom live in some of the most underserved neighborhoods in South Florida.          

Reaching her level of success as a Black woman is not something Jessica takes lightly. As she continues to walk into rooms and spaces that make her feel seen and have a sense of belonging, she is reaching back and pulling others up with her. She sees helping future generations as a responsibility and honor.