· 5 min read
Delgado-Walker carves own path as an emerging leader
Editor’s Note — This is part of a conversation series highlighted as part of Native American Heritage Month on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page. The series will feature students who are making impacts on campus and beyond.
Mayah Delgado-Walker—a member of the Omaha Nation—is a business administration and hospitality, restaurant, and tourism management major. At Nebraska, she is taking advantage of all college has to offer — from studying abroad to making an impact through campus organizations to seeking out hands-on experiences that are preparing her for post-grad life.
You’ve really taken advantage of all college has to offer — from studying abroad to joining student organizations. Why was doing so important for you and what have you taken away from these experiences thus far?
Before starting college, I knew being involved, pursuing opportunities that interest me and finding new passions would be how I wanted to spend my collegiate career. Growing up, I kept pretty busy with sports and extracurriculars, so I wanted to keep on a similar schedule here at UNL. I also knew that a college education isn’t something to take for granted; it’s a privilege. From my college experiences so far, I’ve learned to enjoy being in the moment, go beyond just the classroom, ask questions, and learn from your mistakes!
How do your involvements on campus (like tutoring through the Teaching and Learning Center and getting involved with Out of Darkness) help you to make an impact?
I’ve actually started in a new position within the last month as a Global Experience Student Coordinator where I help Angela Luedke update outstanding programs, create social media content and marketing strategies for multiple study abroad opportunities within the College of Education and Human Sciences. It’s been such a wonderful opportunity to apply what I’m learning in my marketing class to real-life work as I know how beneficial travel can be for personal growth.
Being a member of Out of Darkness UNL has further taught me the importance of being a kind person to all. You never know what others are going through. Raising awareness for suicide prevention through fundraising for educational mental health programs is something I’m so proud to be a part of. We host a walk in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in the spring, so helping to garner attention and donorship is what I’m currently working on as well.
Talk about your experience as a Nebraska Emerging Leader.
Coming into college is such a huge transition and can be a scary one. It’s really a mix of emotions, but through Nebraska Emerging Leaders I found guidance and a support system to help me start my first year. My mentor, Carolina Castro, was amazing; she went above and beyond to make sure we all knew the academic, well-being, and financial resources that are available to us. As well as just texting us to see how we were doing on a day-to-day basis! Through this program, I had the chance to identify my leadership personality and personal values that make me who I am!
How have your academic involvements outside the classroom — like working at the Augusta National Golf Club during the Master’s Tournament and studying entrepreneurship in Rwanda — prepared you for life after college of helped you get hands-on experience before you graduate?
Both experiences have given me a glimpse into what I want for myself post-college. Being able to work at the Master’s showed me how crucial every detail is for a successful event. We all play a part in making sure every patron has the absolute best experience, which doesn’t stop when they leave Augusta National Golf Club. We want them to remember their entire experience with such joy so their loved ones can share in the memories as well! This opportunity helped me know the career path I want to take which focuses on making creative favorable memories for others. While studying entrepreneurship in Rwanda over the summer, I met people with such a passion and drive to better themselves professionally and personally. It was so inspiring to see the hard work they put into each project.
I also just returned from the Netherlands as I had the opportunity to attend the EuroCHRIE International Hospitality Conference. I met lots of industry professionals from all over the world who shared how they began their careers and opportunities for students to take like graduate school or oversea jobs from their respective companies. This was my first time in Europe, and I loved every moment — from hearing advice to trying stroopwafels!
Is there anything you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
I want to earn my teaching certificate for yoga and barre training. Having a work-life balance is something I’ve learned that is very important to me. I’m thinking about short-term goals right now because I try not to put too much pressure on my future as everything always works out for the best and the opportunities that are meant for me, I’ll find!
What or who inspires you?
My family. Growing up, I saw how hard my mom was working to make sure all of us had the opportunities we wanted to take and that would set us up for success. My sister is my biggest supporter, and I wouldn’t be here without her. She’s always been a voice of guidance, reason, and love. Both have instilled hard work and being a caring person in me.
What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact on campus?
Be open-minded and put yourself out there! Attend club meetings, volunteer for different causes, and get to know people in your classes. It really makes the biggest difference! There are so many great academic and social organizations on campus that offer opportunities for each individual. A saying I’ve taken to heart (Thank you Dr. Hanna!) is: be a learn-it-all, not a know-it-all.