MU senior elected March of Dimes’ national youth chair

Taylor Trovillion, a Marquette senior, was recently elected chair of March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization focused on raising awareness for premature births. Photo courtesy Taylor Trovillion.

Taylor Trovillion, a senior in the College of Communication, has dedicated much of her life to working to raise awareness for premature birth rates and caring for birth defects. Her hard work and advocate efforts paid off as she was recently elected chair of the March of Dimes National Youth Council.

March of Dimes is a nonprofit organization that raises awareness of birth defects, premature births and infant mortality. Its National Youth Council is comprised of 19 collegiate volunteers from across the country.

Trovillion first got involved with March of Dimes in high school, and her participation has carried over to college. The organization’s mission is especially personal to Trovillion, as she was born premature with a hole in her heart. She had to remain in the hospital for a month to recover.

According to the 2010 Milwaukee Health Department’s Fetal Infant Mortality Review, covering 2005-2008, 53.7 percent of all infant deaths in Milwaukee were attributed to complications of prematurity.

According to Scott Welak, neonatologist for Children’s Hospital, Trovillion was one of the lucky ones. He said some premature babies can develop chronic lung diseases or may require medications to help with breathing.

Welak also said there is a 40 to 50 percent chance that premature babies will have a neurological deficit, ranging from learning disabilities to problems with vision or digesting food, which can lead to infant mortality.

He said only about 55 percent of extremely premature babies make it home.

Despite the odds, Trovillion has gone on to achieve much. In spring 2011, she participated in the Les Aspin for Government program in Washington, D.C., where she worked for Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA, the chairman of the health, education, labor and pensions committee.

With a minor in political science, Trovillion said although she currently has no plans to run for public office, she plans to work on mayoral campaigns in her hometown of San Diego once she graduates in May.

Aside from March of Dimes, Trovillion has participated in other forms of philanthropy at Marquette. She has worked with Circle K, a service organization, and hosted a fundraiser with the Interfraternity Council for prematurity awareness month.

As part of her Youth Council duties, she was able to travel to the White House last March in promotion of “Let’s Move!,” First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign.

Alison Hauser, associate director of youth leadership for March of Dimes, recognizes Trovillion’s leadership ability.

“Taylor was elected by her peers,” Hauser said. “They chose her because of her dedication and passion for March of Dimes. She was chosen to lead at the national level because of her leadership qualities and longstanding commitment to the mission.”

Trovillion said she was moved by the council’s decision to elect her chair.

“I think I was mostly humbled by the confidence my peers had for me serving as the nation’s top youth volunteer,” she said. “I am also incredibly grateful to Marquette, who has allowed me to carry my work to campus, and has been more than willing to allow me to attend meetings all across the country.”

Without being able to attend those meetings, she would not have the skills that allow her to serve.

In her spare time, Trovillion is involved in the Pi Beta Phi sorority and says while she does get tired, she easily finds energy.

“I find motivation from the kids I work with … they volunteer out of the goodness of their hearts,” Trovillion said. “They don’t have to volunteer, but they take the time to do it.”