Commencement May 19

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Maya Powers ‘25: EC a proud family tradition

When Maya Powers ’25 first came to the Elmira College campus as a student, she already had a good idea of what to expect, from the dynamics of the close-knit community to the caring faculty.

That’s because Maya, a Human Services major from Worcester, New York, is the third person in her family to attend Elmira College. And she looks forward to the day not too far in the future when she will be the third person in her family to graduate as a Soaring Eagle.

Her father, Timothy Powers ‘79, paved the way when he became the first college graduate of his family, which propelled him into a long career in business. Maya said it was the independence her father gained on campus – many miles away from his then-home in Oneonta, New York – that helped him figure out his career path.

“He was always proud to go to Elmira, proud to have graduated from Elmira,” Maya added.

More than three decades later, Maya’s sister Leita Powers ‘14 graduated from EC with a degree in Biology. Despite her passion for the scientific field, Leita pivoted into a career in law – inspired by her coursework in the Women’s Studies (now Women’s and Gender Studies) program and a passion for making a difference in the world.

“Leita, especially, was very involved. She loved it so much. She never came back for the summers,” Maya said. “... And Leita and I are very similar. Knowing she had a great time here, I knew I would have a great time here as well.”

Before embarking on her own journey at EC, Maya remembers the advice her sister gave her – get involved and put yourself out there. It’s advice that has guided Maya along the way, as she performs community service through Circle K, helps raise awareness through the F.I.G.H.T. (feminists who want to fight for inclusivity, gender, humanity, and transparency) Club, and serves the community through an internship at Pathways in Corning.

“I’ve met some great people and they are some of the best professors ever,” Maya said about her time on the EC campus so far. “I love the small classes, especially coming from a small town. Being in that small, tight-knit community is something that was important to me.”

To help better focus her studies on her career aspirations as a Human Services major, Maya was able to customize an independent study course with Dr. Alexa Yesukevich, Women’s and Gender Studies Coordinator. It focuses specifically on the impacts of violence against women, including domestic abuse and sexual assault cases.

From conversations she’s had with Dr. Kelly Smith, Assistant Professor of Human Services, Maya’s been able to gain a real perspective into the hard work and struggles that come with a career in human services, especially with her goal of working with victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

At EC, Maya said the faculty care – not only about what students do in the classroom, but also their success beyond graduation.

“I know that with some of my friends that ended up at bigger schools, they say that their professors don’t even know their names and their professors don’t even know anything about them, and I feel that’s totally not the experience I’ve had here,” Maya said. “I’ll have a teacher one semester and they’ll still remember my name.”

Through her internship experience and education at Elmira, Powers is confident that her transition to a career in human services will be a smooth one. But until that day comes, she is thoroughly enjoying the experience of being at EC and sharing that with her family.

“College is such a unique experience. I’ll never get to be in clubs like this again or do classes like this again.”

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