You don’t necessarily come to leadership by way of being the captain of your high school basketball team or the president of your class. You may not be the most outgoing or the most popular.
Sometimes you lead because it’s just the right thing to do. That’s how it began for Maya Moran.
Moran ’21, a psychology major, is working on a minor in leadership studies. She was drawn to the minor because of a natural inclination to help people, which prompted high school classmates to call her their therapist friend. She did more than listen, though. In her junior year, Moran befriended a classmate who was transitioning from female to male. She could see he was going through a rough time and not getting the support he needed.
“He started telling me things,” Moran said, painful stories of what would happen outside of class: rude comments and other incidents of bigotry and ignorance.
“I’m not confrontational but I was not going to sit there and allow people to degrade someone,” Moran said. So she reported the situation to a teacher.
Such incidents set Moran to thinking about what more she could do. As a first-year student at URI, Moran participated in URI’s Leadership Institute, a program designed for students who have demonstrated leadership and service potential in high school. Every year, the Institute accepts 100 students for training done the weekend before students move to campus. Moran is now a veteran, a peer leader. Lectures, team-building activities, and meals with URI faculty and staff are all part of Institute training.
“The Leadership Institute is what got me excited about URI and made me feel like I was home,” Moran said. “It’s a great way to come together and meet new people.”
This summer, URI’s Leadership Institute offered 50 additional students the opportunity for training through Leadership Serve, a program emphasizing leadership through community service, Moran said.
Moran also works with the student organization D.R.I.V.E. (Diversifying. Recruiting. Inspiring. Volunteering. Educating.), whose aim is to increase diversity at the University through outreach to both in-state and out-of-state underrepresented students. Moran is now president of that organization. And then there’s her work with the URI Rotaract Club, a social club committed to professional development, leadership cultivation, community service, and activism.
“My leadership work has given me a lot of tools. It’s opened me up academically and socially,” Moran said. “And leadership studies is becoming so big in careers. I’ve grown in self-knowledge and awareness.”
To the student new to URI, Moran advises getting involved early. “There are so many opportunities on campus. Network with faculty members and people in the community. Do not spend your first year going to class, going to the dining hall, and going to sleep,” she said. “Go out there.”