Taylor and Jeyde Mitchell’s love of education — and each other — deepened at Santa Monica College.
Taylor and Jeyde Mitchell owe their relationship to crowded public transportation, chivalry and a mutual friend. The 2023 graduates of Santa Monica College met as teens while riding a Los Angeles Metro bus.
“I was on my way home and getting near my exit, when Taylor got on,” Jeyde says. They were introduced to each other by Jeyde’s seatmate, who turned out to know them both.
Jeyde also stood up to offer his seat to her. “I thought that was so sweet,” Taylor says. “But then he got off at the next exit, and I didn’t know if I’d ever see him again.”
L.A. is a big place, after all, with Jeyde attending Fairfax High School while Taylor was a student at Los Angeles High. They hadn’t even exchanged phone numbers.
Fortunately, though, Taylor and that friend did trade numbers, and his phone became their conduit for communication. Whenever their friend called Taylor after school, Jeyde would ask for the phone — but not use his own name.
“He would say, ‘Hey, this is Dave’ or ‘this is Ronald,’” she recalls with a chuckle. “But I knew the voice was familiar.”
Eventually, as the school year ended, Jeyde gathered the courage to use his own name and give Taylor his number. “I was waiting for that phone call all summer,” he says. But it didn’t come.
“I forgot,” she admits.
With classes back in session, Jeyde turned to that mutual friend for aid. “They would come to visit me to hang out,” Taylor says of the two. Eventually, Jeyde confessed to her that he had a crush on someone.
“I asked who it was — and he said it was me,” Taylor recalls. Then it was Jeyde’s turn for a question: Would she be his girlfriend? And they’ve been a couple ever since.
After nine years of dating — during which they graduated high school, entered the workforce and began studying at SMC — Jeyde resolved to ask something else. On a rainy Christmas night, after celebrating with Taylor’s family, the couple went to share holiday cheer with Jeyde’s mother.
But after escorting Taylor inside and closing the umbrella he used to shield her from the downpour, Jeyde disappeared. Then a knock came at the door, and Taylor’s brother entered. He and Jeyde’s mom each started recording video, as more family and friends joined them.
As Taylor wondered what was happening, Jeyde held her hand and bent to one knee. “He started reciting his love for me, and my head was spinning,” Taylor says. As he proposed, they each gave nine reasons for their love of one another — one for each year they had been together.
“Saying yes was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Taylor says.
Faith in Each Other
By the time they got married, Taylor and Jeyde had already made another important choice in studying at SMC. “A bunch of our friends had gone to SMC and really enjoyed it,” notes Jeyde, who had previously attended another college right after high school. He planned to study architecture but confesses, “I didn’t have the motivation” for higher education then. So he focused on working to make enough money to build a life for Taylor and himself.
Taylor had also opted to work full time. But after a few years, she decided to enter academia. “I knew that when I was ready, SMC would be where I would go, because I had heard great things.” Her mother had also taken some courses at SMC years earlier.
Taylor’s mother, who raised her and her brother on her own, always emphasized the importance of education. Taylor remembers, as a child, being driven with her brother by their mom around Skid Row and other distressed neighborhoods. Their mom wanted to show them the reality of the turns life could take, and how important it was to be educated and make something of themselves.
Jeyde, who also grew up in a single-mom household, has always shared her journey of wanting to achieve as much as possible, Taylor adds. Jeyde honed his creativity in graphic design by garnering an SMC associate’s degree in Studio Arts while Taylor earned an associate’s degree in Business Administration. Each graduated with honors after repeated placements on the dean’s list. The first in their families to graduate from college, they achieved this as Taylor worked as a nanny and Jeyde won promotions in his job at a Malibu restaurant.
The next step on their life’s journey is transferring to California State University, Los Angeles, where Taylor will pursue her bachelor’s in business administration and Jeyde will major in graphic design. Taylor plans to focus on accounting, noting the many career options offered by that vast field. And Jeyde has already made a number of industry connections in the digital arts and media professions. The couple also looks forward to earning master’s degrees in their respective fields.
And they’re doing it together, as full partners in life. “It’s such a blessing for us to have each other,” Taylor says.