Welcome to Maven in the Making, where we celebrate the young women in our community who are poised to be future leaders.
Maria De Leon is a 2022 graduate of Butler University, a recent 500 Festival Princess, the co-founder of a Leading Women of Tomorrow chapter, and a former Co-President of her school’s Latinx Student Union. Maria has recently begun working as an Human Resources Associate at Eli Lilly and Company, and Indy Maven caught up with her to find out more about her impressive achievements and future goals.
My Maven Superpower is networking! Ever since I learned about the “power of networking” through a professional development session while working for TeenWorks at the age of 15 years old, I took it upon myself to ensure I built a network in Indianapolis. Networking has allowed me to meet amazing people who are doing amazing things for the community of Indianapolis and within the industries they work for. I enjoy networking with people and learning about their journey and how they ended up where they are today.
LinkedIn is a platform I enjoy using to connect with various professionals across Indianapolis, Indiana, and all over the United States. I love seeing other people’s success and reading about their learnings in their professional journeys.
YOU RECENTLY GRADUATED FROM BUTLER UNIVERSITY, CONGRATULATIONS! WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU DID IN COLLEGE THAT YOU WERE PROUD OF?
During my time at Butler University, I co-founded a Leading Women of Tomorrow chapter, an organization that focuses on empowering young women to seek and pursue careers in government and public service to bridge the gender gap. I served on the executive board as President and Secretary.
YOU WERE CO-PRESIDENT OF THE LATINX STUDENT UNION AT BUTLER. CAN YOU EXPLAIN MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU DID IN YOUR LEADERSHIP ROLE IN THAT ORGANIZATION?
During my time as the Co-President of the Latinx Student Union, I worked alongside my peers to deliver events that aligned with our mission to develop, educate, empower, and unite Latinx students at Butler University. We hosted events such as an “Encanto” Movie Night to discuss the mental health awareness the movie showcased, Vision Board with Conchas and Café, and a meet and greet with Hispanic/Latinx alumni.
YOU WERE ALSO A 500 FESTIVAL PRINCESS IN MAY. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE EXPERIENCE, AND WHY?
My favorite part of the experience was being able to partner with multiple schools and local organizations that I believe make an impact in our local community. I enjoyed being able to wear the crown and sash not to hold a beauty standard but to create awareness about women being able to pursue leadership positions. I specifically enjoyed reading to elementary students that attended IPS. Since I attended Butler University, I was able to bring Blue [the bulldog, Butler’s mascot] alongside and read to the students. “Good Boy, Blue!”
Lastly, I was also able to witness history be made when my friend Melissa was selected as the 2022 Queen Scholar, the first Latina Queen Scholar since 1959.
YOU HAVE RECEIVED MANY AWARDS ALREADY AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE; CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT SOME OF THEM?
In 2017, I received the Heather and Coriana Memorial Award for Excellence in Youth Service from the Domestic Violence Network for my contribution during my high school years to create awareness and educate students about teen dating abuse and domestic violence.
In 2018, I received the Young Latina Leadership Award to recognize my leadership and volunteer efforts within the community of Indianapolis.
During my senior year at Butler University, I studied abroad my first semester in Alcala de Henares, Madrid, Spain. During my time in Spain, I received the Digital Nomad Diversity Award, an effort to highlight and encourage students of color, LGBTQIA+ students, first-generation college students, and other underrepresented students to study abroad.
Recently, I was also awarded the 2022 Top Political Communicator by my college of communication.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO BE DOING AFTER GRADUATING?
Upon graduating from Butler University with degrees in Political Science and Critical Communications & Media Studies, I will be launching my career at Eli Lilly and Company as a Human Resources Associate. I was offered a full-time position after successfully completing my summer internship with the company last summer.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT SOME OF THE CHARITIES YOU HAVE BEEN INVOLVED WITH SO FAR?
Beginning in August, I worked with TeenWorks for six weeks. TeenWorks is an organization dear to my heart because I participated in the program each summer during high school and I gained valuable knowledge about professional development — and it has contributed to the young professional woman I am today. For this reason, I wanted to come back full circle and work as an assistant supervisor to work with the youth the organization serves. I was once in their shoes, and I hope to be able to provide the same support and guidance that my supervisors provided me with during my time with TeenWorks.
I also conducted my 500 Festival Princess community outreaches with:
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN GETTING INVOLVED WITH A CAUSE THEY CARE ABOUT?
First, do your research on the cause. Second, identify organizations that are doing amazing work advocating for that cause. Third, ask yourself how you would like to get involved and what would be comfortable for you to do that aligns with your time commitment and skills you can offer, or just be open to any opportunity available. Lastly, be intentional about the work you want to do and ensure that you are always providing a safe space and opportunity for the people who are directly impacted to share their ideas and thoughts.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I see myself being the co-owner of a coffee shop/bookstore with my younger sister in Indianapolis, in addition to having pursued other entrepreneurial opportunities.
Stephanie Groves is the Executive Editor of Indy Maven.
Know a young woman who is a Maven in the Making? Nominate her by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.