If you've picked up a can or bottle of Dr Pepper in the past few months, chances are good that Taylor Zike's face was on the product. He won a nationwide contest to earn money for school. What impressed the judges most was Taylor's relationship with his brother — and how that relationship changed the course of Taylor's life.
- Sibling rivalry
Growing up, Taylor and his older brother, Derek, were the biggest rivals. Not only did they challenge each other when it came to hockey, but the rivalry extended to their choice of schools as well.
"Purdue was highly recommended by my best friends and I knew it would be challenging," Taylor says. "But I also knew my brother was an IU fan, so that made Purdue an obvious choice."
- Growing closer
The dynamics of Taylor's relationship with his brother changed dramatically in 2009 when, during a game of hockey, Derek suffered an injury that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Not only have the two brothers now grown much closer, but seeing the doctors work on Derek also inspired Taylor to change his career goals.
"My brother has gone through one of the hardest things anyone could ever go through, and he keeps fighting," Taylor says. "He is my hero, and he's the reason I want to go to medical school so that I can help other people just as the doctors have helped him."
- A face on the bottle
Taylor's mom encouraged him to submit a 60-second video for a promotion for Dr Pepper, which was offering scholarship money for students. Taylor didn't think he had much of a chance of winning but decided to submit a video anyway. In the video, he talked about his goal of becoming a doctor to help others like Derek, and possibly to help his brother walk again.
As a winner of the promotion, Taylor scored $23,000 for tuition, and his picture appears on cans and bottles of Dr Pepper. "It is just so crazy that my friends from other states started contacting me when they saw my face on Dr Pepper. I even played a prank on a store cashier and asked her if she knew who the person was on the bottle I was holding," he says.
- A busy Boilermaker
Taylor's academic program keeps him very busy, but he still makes time to help others and have fun. He took classes to become an emergency medical technician and also serves with Timmy Global Health in Indianapolis — an organization that helps improve worldwide access to health care. Taylor also finds time for another passion — hockey. He plays as part of an intramural team at the Co-Rec.