By Dan McGrath

There are five Catholic high schools serving an all-minority population in the United States.

Leo is one of them, and it has partnerships with two others: St. Benedict’s Prep, in Newark, N.J., and St. Augustine School in New Orleans, La.

A three-person contingent from St. Augustine’s, including President Aulston Taylor, visited Leo on Thursday, Sept. 15. Principal Shaka Rawls and a Leo group will make a return visit to New Orleans next month.

Accompanied by Administrative Aide Aliska Mercadal and attorney Derek Mercadal, President Taylor, a former two-sport athlete at St. Augustine, shared his personal story with a Leo student assembly.

After graduating from Texas Southern University, where he played varsity baseball, President Taylor landed a job in sales and marketing with ESPN. That led to an opportunity with the BET Network and a move to New York, where he earned a master’s degree in integrated marketing from New York University. That led in turn to a job with Viacom.

“I was making good money and by most measures I was successful, but I came to realize that what I was doing was not my passion,” he said.

The opportunity to come “home” to St. Augustine was one he couldn’t pass up, even though it entailed a substantial pay cut.

After two-plus years as the school’s chief development officer, President Taylor moved into his current role in 2021. Like Leo, St. Augustine is primarily dependent on outside funding for its operational budget. Like Leo, it boasts a 100 percent college acceptance rate among its seniors.

“And, like Principal Rawls, I realized that my passion is helping young men realize their full potential, often in the face of adversity,” he told an assembly of Leo students.

“And that’s my advice to the young men in this room: Identify what it is that you’re passionate about in life and pursue it. It’s very hard to be denied if you’re passionate.”