Leading with Passion

Maya Siegel (B.S., ’22) knows what it means to be productive. Even before arriving on the Colorado State University campus in 2018, she had a volunteering, networking, and academic record that would rival most graduate students. Yet there was still much to learn in college, including that getting the degree is only one part of the experience and how it’s possible to turn passion into profession. Since graduating just less than a year ago, Siegel has put these lessons into practice and shown alumni of all ages what it means to live a life of purpose, not just productivity.

Maya Siegel in a CSU dorm on her first day on campus.
Maya Siegel’s first day at CSU was a little intimidating, but it would result in a life-changing experience.

Coming into college, Siegel was driven – high school had been a revolving cycle of study, work, and repeat – and she knew she wanted to be an advocate for people and the planet. What she was lacking was confidence, and that’s exactly what she gained during her time at CSU, in large part because of the Honors Program.

“I would have been lost without that program,” Siegel affirmed. “When I entered college, I was pretty studious and was looking for peers who also loved to learn and were interested in school. Being in the program helped me find people with the same values; I met all my best friends there.”

That sense of friendship and camaraderie also gave Siegel an insight she hadn’t had before – work-life balance.

“In high school, I only saw the value in being productive,” she said. “But in college I learned how to be productive and enjoy life.”

With a less cluttered mind, Siegel was able to think and dream, to reflect on her experiences up to this point and begin to focus on what she wanted to accomplish. She had always wondered about owning her own business, but questioned her ability to lead as a shy Jewish and Asian American woman. The Multicultural Undergraduate Research Art and Leadership Symposium (MURALS) was right there when she needed it.  

“I was introduced to MURALS my freshman year and feel that that experience helped me gain confidence in presenting my work to others and seeing leaders who were also People of Color. ” she explained. “I really can’t express the impact that had on me to be able to see women, especially Asian women, succeeding and being leaders. I didn’t see myself as a leader until I saw that.”

Maya Siegle in cap and gown on her graduation day from CSU.
Maya Siegel learned many things in college. Most importantly, the experience taught her how to balance work and joy.

Five years later, Siegel is amazed at the leader she’s become. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in business administration, marketing, with a minor in entrepreneurship while working 30-hours a week. Since graduating, her resume has outpaced most professionals twice her age. In addition to running her own web design company, Siegel co-founded Space to Speak and was awarded 1st place in the MURALS Service Learning and Leadership category for their work raising $118,000 in four months for survivors experiencing domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. That project has now become Stories of Consent, which shares personal community-sourced stories about how affirmative consent looks and feels. 

“Being able to turn my passion into my profession is something I hope to continue achieving moving forward,” she said. “I love what I do, and I never want to stop doing what I love.”

That’s one of the messages Siegel will impart to the audience when she speaks at the upcoming LEAD Conference, which helps current CSU students learn and gain the skills necessary to become the leaders they dream of.   

A professional photograph of Maya Siegel
Graduate, entrepreneur, advocate, Maya Siegel is leading her life with passion. Henry Selis courtesy image.

“I like talking with people who think a leader has to be a man or someone very outspoken,” Siegel said. “There are so many ways to be a leader, and you don’t have to look or be a certain way to become one.”

Another, equally important message Siegel hopes to impart when she speaks at the conference is that the degree is only one piece of success.

“One of the most important things you can do is intentionally develop your repertoire of skills outside of the classroom,” she explained. “It’s important to recognize your lived experience is experience. Volunteer, network, find the industries you’re interested in and get involved in them. I started working because I had to, but then when I left college I had a lot of skills necessary to start building my career.”

Everyone has something they can contribute, Siegel added, and college is the perfect time to discover what that is. Mix in a little drive and some confidence, and you’ll be ready to lead in no time. 


Like many new CSU graduates, Maya Siegel became an Alumni Association member through our Grad Pack program that equips students with everything they need to graduate, including regalia and an annual membership to the Alumni Association. Membership to the Alumni Association represents a global community of green and gold that keeps alumni connected to the University and each other while making an impact on current students and future Rams. You can make a difference too, and gain access to benefits such as exclusive invites, bookstore savings, career services, and more. Become a member today!