Maggie Murphy, a textiles, merchandising, and fashion design major from Omaha, may have come to campus with reservations and vulnerability. But after seeking out communities on campus and immersing herself in her major, the May 2023 grad found her home at Nebraska.
She shares a month in her life — from final projects to hanging out with her Delta Gamma sisters to graduation — and answered a few questions about her time as a Husker.
Talk about why you applied to Nebraska. Was there a specific moment, or someone or something that pushed you to apply and enroll?
My whole life I have dealt with many feelings of vulnerability and most of them revolve around me living with a physical disability. Being in a wheelchair brings along many physical obstacles as well as people looking at you differently. Going into college, I remember feeling so torn and scared of the unknown. I knew in my heart I wanted to go to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, but I didn’t know if I had the courage to make that move and try to live independently on my own. When it came time to apply, I decided to go for it and I’m so grateful I did. That leap of faith led me to four years filled with so much growth, relationships and experiences.
Where does your passion for textiles, merchandising and fashion design come from?
I have had a passion for fashion for as long as I can remember. I have always turned to fashion as a way to express my true authentic self. Although, as a young female in a wheelchair, I know firsthand the struggles that come with finding fashionable clothes that fit well. I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career in fashion to live out my passions for fashion design and inclusivity.
Tell us about your favorite hands-on experience while studying in the textiles, merchandising and fashion design program.
Taking Visualization Studio freshman year with Professor Michael Burton was definitely my favorite hands-on experience during my time in the program. It’s funny, because the class that intimidated me at first is now my favorite college course. It challenged me and taught me a lot about my creative abilities.
How has your experience in this program shaped your college experience?
It is bittersweet to think about my time in this program coming to an end. It is crazy to look back on how much I have grown from the first course I took as a freshman to now. I have met some of the most talented individuals and I can’t wait to see all the amazing things they do in the industry. I have learned more than I could have ever thought from my professors and they have shaped my college experience for the better.
Tell us about your other creative endeavors.
During the pandemic, I discovered my love for graphic design. I changed my major from fashion merchandising to fashion communications my sophomore year and have loved it ever since. The combination of courses in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications and the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design has led me to a love for creative branding and advertising.
What have been your favorite achievements or involvements outside of the classroom over the last four years?
I have been an active member of the sorority Delta Gamma all four years of college. All the memories I have made during my time as a member have made it my favorite college involvement. I had the opportunity to hold the position of director of e-communications in my sorority for two years. This position included running Delta Gamma’s social media platforms and website. I was able to showcase on social media all the amazing things the women in my sorority do. Without joining Delta Gamma, my college experience would not have been the same. It gave me a community I didn’t know I needed. I also was part of the media team for Dance Marathon for three years. This organization allowed me to give back to Children’s Hospital in Omaha, a place that has given me so much. Both of these involvements helped shape my college experience at Nebraska.
Who or what inspires/motivates you?
My mom is my biggest inspiration and motivator. I am the strong woman I am today because I have had her to look up to. She motivates me every day to live life to the fullest and overcome any challenges that come my way.
What’s something you love about being a Husker that can’t be captured on camera?
It is all of the little things that add up to make UNL feel like home. From all the daily interactions to my favorite spots on campus, there is something truly special about the people and this place that can’t be captured on camera. I remember the campus feeling so daunting as a freshman and I didn’t believe those who told me the campus would eventually feel small. I can now say that they were right. It is the people you’re surrounded by that make this place feel like home.
Is there someone who has impacted your time at Nebraska?
All of the amazing people I have met impacted my time at Nebraska in more ways than I could have imagined. I have made lifelong friendships that I will cherish forever.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a Husker who wants to follow their passion?
Don’t be so afraid to put yourself out there! Push yourself and step outside of your comfort zone. College is too short to not make the most out of every moment, from the small moments to the big ones, doing what you love. Be present and embrace all the growth and relationships your time as a Husker will bring you. And don’t worry too much — life has a funny way of working itself out.
What do you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
As I’ve grown, I have come to accept and be proud that I am ‘different.’ I came to the realization that I wouldn’t be the same person without my disability. My life would look entirely different. It has shaped me into the strong, resilient and open-minded woman I am today. In this lifetime, I hope to be an advocate for those around me and push others to look at life from a different perspective. I hope to spread kindness and positivity to everyone I encounter throughout this journey called life.
What has made your time as a Husker remarkable?
All of the relationships I’ve made and people I’ve met have made my time as a Husker truly something I’ll never forget. College has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows, but I’m thankful for every minute of it. I am forever grateful to this place for pushing me to grow in ways I couldn’t have imagined.