Maria Heath is best known around campus as the definition of the word extroverted. Throughout the first month of the 2021 fall semester, Heath has gotten involved and taken every opportunity that has been presented towards her, resulting in a long list of student involvement and experiences that have driven her success so far.
Savannah Hamm, a longtime friend of Heath, described her as a leader. Hamm explained how Heath has a mysterious ability to lead people without any prior knowledge of the people around her. This skill, coupled with her caring and inclusive personality, signals to Hamm that Heath will be a strong leader within Drake’s community over the years to come.
“Maria is such a sweet and caring person, and [she] cares about the well-being for all people,” Hamm said. “She is an amazing leader, and she knows how to lead groups of people in the right way.”
Heath has gotten involved in several student organizations, including Delta Gamma, Borealis, the Herriott Hall executive council, Public Relations Student Society of America and Drake Democrats. Heath credits this heavy involvement to the Helmick Commons, as she makes sure to stop by any tables that are set up for information on possible student involvement opportunities.
“I understand I have to maintain a balance for my academics and mental health, but I’m staying very busy,” Heath said. “I’ve been visiting tables on Helmick Commons to learn about new opportunities and taking advantage of all the resources offered at Drake.”
Despite these successes, the college transition was not an easy feat for Heath to conquer. Like so many other first-years, Heath struggled with homesickness in her first days of living on campus.
“The biggest struggle was living on my own,” Heath said. “I called my parents a week into college [feeling] very homesick. This is the longest I’ve been away from home.”
However, Heath has stood resilient, pushing through these early struggles and finding success early in her college experience.
Heath encourages other first-year students who are struggling with the adjustment process to pay special attention to their mental health. She explained that your ability to take care of your own emotions is just as important as your ability to succeed on-campus, as the two work hand in hand.
“It’s okay to not be okay,” Heath said. “College is hard; you’re here, and you’re trying your best. Take care of yourself because you can’t be successful if you’re not healthy. Close that textbook and go eat a real meal. Turn off the laptop and get a good night’s rest. Prioritizing your needs will make you feel much better and ready to tackle anything.”
The Outstanding First-Years column presents a profile of one first-year student each week, summarizing their successes up to this point in their college experience. The young students featured in this column have displayed exceeding academic performance and on-campus involvement, along with contributing to the campus community in a positive way.