Leading by example: Art major encourages other students to find their niche

Leading by example: Art major encourages other students to find their niche

T o see her now leading campus tours and serving as a leadership facilitator, you’d never guess rising junior Maya Whipple had a shy bone in her body.  

With her bubbly personality and creative nature, she thrives working with others. 

Maya Whipple served as an orientation leader.
Maya Whipple served as an orientation leader.

“Coming to college, I really wanted to explore a different side of myself. I wanted to become more outgoing, adventurous and open to trying new things,” said Whipple. “So I just decided to get involved with a lot of things that could help me grow.”

She jumped right in during her first year, joining the Council of Student Ambassadors—where students serve as admissions representatives, campus tour guides as well as role models and informal mentors to prospective and new students. 

“Through this doing the Student Ambassador program, I applied for the summer orientation leader position. I did that last summer, and I was hoping to do it this summer, but it didn't really work out with the pandemic,” said Whipple.

"Because she extensively applies herself in her field, to studying leadership and practicing her skills through community involvement, she can, and will, make a difference in the lives of others."
– Ashley Copeland, assistant director of Leadership Programs

She also joined the Emerging Leaders Program, now known as the Leadership Academy— a program for first-year students to begin and grow their leadership skills.

“That led into me doing the Leadership Certificate Program,” said Whipple. “And this coming fall, I will be doing what is called Leadership Facilitator. Basically, I’ll be helping the incoming freshmen as we advise them through Leadership Programs at Georgia College.”

The staff she works with through Leadership Programs recognizes her dedication and drive to make a positive impact on the world around her.

"Maya’s achievements and accomplishments in her academic and civic life are her own," said Ashley Copeland, assistant director of Leadership Programs. "Maya carved her own pathway at Georgia College, utilizing knowledge gained from her courses, resources at the university and in the Leadership Programs office to support her passion."

"She seeks to bring communities together through art and an appreciation for creativity and innovation. Maya understands the unique link between a career and civic life and what it means to be a leader for the public good," Copeland said. "Because she extensively applies herself in her field, to studying leadership, and practicing her skills through community involvement, she can, and will, make a difference in the lives of others."

Whipple working on an art history game last year
Whipple working on an art history game last year

When she’s not serving and supporting others in her roles outside the classroom, the art major is usually found in Ennis Hall, pursuing what’s been a passion of hers since childhood. 

“I have a concentration in studio art, which is any type of hands-on physical art. I mainly do drawing, painting, photography and printmaking,” she said. 

“Honestly, I couldn't see myself doing anything else,” said Whipple. “My mom really wanted me to do nursing or something like that, but I told her ‘Mom, I do not want to be a nurse, I want to be an artist.’”

She hopes to couple her artistic skills with her leadership and entrepreneurial spirit for her future career. 

“I want to go back to school to earn a master's degree in business administration because I’d like to, someday, open my own art studio,” said Whipple. 

Maya Whipple
Maya Whipple

She initially chose Georgia College to “be close to her family,” who lives in her hometown of Gordon. After just a few short years here, she's been able to have both those familial ties and develop into a strong, independent person. 

“I think I've grown, and I think a lot of that has to do with Georgia College and the opportunities I’ve had here,” said Whipple. 

Whipple understands the transition to college can be tough, but she encourages all students to overcome their apprehensions and hesitations by simply trying new things. 

“I would tell them to really to find their place—whatever is going to make them feel comfortable, welcomed and engaged,” said Whipple. “Just go for it. Even if you're kind of nervous about having new experiences, you never know how you'll grow into a role or what difference you'll be able to bring to an organization.”

“You also never know what’s going to come from an opportunity or what kind of other opportunities will come because you did this one thing. So, don't always stick to what you know. Explore different avenues, and just have fun while you're doing it."
– Maya Whipple