Source: Delaware State University
Meet Delaware State University freshman and fellow Hornet, Maya Bythwood. Maya is a Criminal Justice major and a successful standout student amongst her fellow peers. Miss Bythwood, was most notably recently named “Miss Dover,” in this year’s “Miss Dover” competition. In addition, according to an interview with Delaware State, “Miss Bythwood is a member of NOBLE (the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives), the Speech and Debate Team, and performs with the University’s Jazz and Concert Band.
In an interview, I sat down with Miss Bythwood to get to know her key to success, as well as her future goals and aspirations. Here’s what she had to say!
Q: Where were you born and what was your upbringing like?
A: “So I was born in Christiana, and I grew up in Dover, Delaware. I went to school at Dover high school and I grew up in the Capitol School District. Well, I started out in private school. And then I moved to the Capitol School district when I was in the third grade. And the community has always been great. Always been very supportive. And I think for that reason, I am where I’m at right now.”
Q: Who has been the greatest influence in your life that has impacted the woman you are today?
A: “Definitely my grandfather hands down. When my mother was struggling, she’s a single mother. She raised me in the household herself. And whenever she was working, my grandfather was doing everything. He was taking me to all my events, taking me to and from school, and he would get up at like six in the morning and travel Magnolia, Delaware, just to pick me up and take me to school, and he would make sure that I had breakfast, everything. And he would always make sure that we were good. Make sure that we had everything that we needed. And for that reason, I didn’t have to stress about anything.”
Listen in to this exclusive clip from the interview with Miss Bythwood:
Q: What about your family? What is your family like?
A: “Growing up, I had a very supportive family. And I have a large one at that, there’s a truckload of us! And on both sides of the family, my mom’s and my dad’s, even though we’re a split family, we’re a blended family, we’re all molded into one big family. And that’s given me the opportunity to, to meet so many, so many members of my family from Georgia, California, I have family members everywhere. And for that reason, I feel like our family knows so many people, and that has given me a lot of support as well. And it’s helping me be able to build my rapport.
Q: Can you tell us of your education experience prior to coming to Delaware State?
A: Starting in high school, I was in the honors program. So that allowed me to take college courses during my time at Dover High School. So my junior junior year, I started taking classes at Delaware State. I took piano with Professor Mabel Morrison, and she was a great instructor. And then I also took Spanish my senior year and I was able to take AP Spanish with senior levels all as well. And yeah, we were able to go to Spain and for that reason. And he really presented an opportunity of a lifetime to be able to go to Spain and use our knowledge that we acquired and put that to good use.”
Q: What was the most memorable moment for you while attending Dover High?
A: “Oh, I would say, Oh, that’s a hard one. There are so many memorable moments fromDover High School. But I think our last football game or last March was the most memorable moment for me. Because that was a moment of closure, that was the only moment of closure that we really were able to receive, because everything shut down. Once COVID hit the US and being able to march across the field with the rest of my senior class, it was a great experience. And it’s one that I’ll never forget…”
Q: Is this where you thought you’d be 5 or so years ago?
A: “No. Just a clear cut answer. I would definitely not have expected me to be where I’m at. Because five years ago, I was so shy. I was the kid that was in the corner reading books and wouldn’t talk to anybody…I think being a part of Dover High School and Delaware State’s community has really opened me up to be able to, to communicate more effectively, to make better bonds to just break out in my little shell.”
Q: What informed your decision on doing what you’re doing now and coming to Delaware State?
A: Well, the fact that DSU was the place where my parents both graduated from the place where they met. I mean, that was, that was one reason, it was the most affordable option. That was another big reason. And it’s right here, it’s local. And it’s right where my family is. Because family, family is everything I wouldn’t have to leave my family. And that was another big factor.”
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: Five years from now. I just hope as long as I’m not stagnant, I think that I’ll be fine. My goal is to always be better than I was, and make sure that I do the best that I possibly can. And whatever I do, I as long as I put my all as long as I give 110% in each and everything that I do. I think that five years from now, I’ll be okay.
Q: So five years from now, what is the career goal for you?
A: “Oh, career wise, I hope to intern with the FBI. That’s, that’s one of my goals. And I also hope to be a spokesperson for a brand. I’m not entirely sure which brand yet, but I want to be able to represent something that I can, and I won’t take a job that I don’t personally feel would be right to support something I don’t want to ever take. I don’t want to take a job that I don’t agree with, you know.”
Q: What kind of advice would you offer a student, who is undecided on his or her career path?
A: “I would say don’t give up. And do your best to get involved in multiple things so that you can find what you’re passionate about. Because usually, what you find yourself doing in your spare time, like that, that time that no one else is telling you to to ‘do this or do that,’ that’s when you find what you truly love. Because it’ll be natural. It’ll be what you genuinely liked.”
Q: How would you describe the state of higher education in America today?
A: “I think that it’s a work in progress. Financially, It’s not affordable for everyone. It’s very difficult to find methods of payment, unless there is a scholarship. And with loans, you’re indebted and you have to pay that back until you’re about 40. My parents are still paying back their debt from when they were in college.So when it comes to the financial aspect, it definitely needs some work. But when it comes to academics, I think that the US serves as one of the major educational capitals of the world because we have so many colleges just in the United states and so many different majors and concentrations that are offered to students. So I think, I think
America is doing a good job in that regard.”
Q: Have you ever travelled outside of the United States? Where, and how does life outside compare to that in the US?
A: “Compared to America, there are definitely a lot of differences when it comes to customs and traditions and just life in general. There are a few similarities like you’ll see a McDonald’s anywhere you go, which was surprising, quite frankly. But it makes sense because McDonald’s is a large corporation. But I think that when it comes to militarization, it’s interesting because like take France for example. I went to France in 2019… there are their army members that stand outside of public places with rifles.You know, and that deters people from committing crimes because, I mean, if you see a stocky person with a rifle, you’re not going to try anything…”
Q: What does the future hold for America?
A: Well, I think that we need more people who will advocate for America because there’s going to be a lot of rebuilding to be done. America has not been painted in the best light as of recently. There has been a lot of conflict and mending our country is going to be a priority (moving forward) and making sure that we mend relations internationally is also going to be a top priority. Because that’s that’s how we operate. We operate on a give and take system. And that’s how our country will continue to thrive, but it’s only going to work if we have good rapport with not only ourselves but with other countries.”
Q: Are you interested in politics? If no, why not? What is your take on the state of politics and the future of the American democracy?
A: “I am. I have the CNN app and I read it daily. I stay up to date. But yes, I am definitely interested in politics. Being a diplomat is probably the ultimate goal. Because being able to represent your country in a way that you’re able to advocate for the citizens of the United States, that would be something of interest to me. I think politics in the US is very divided. Because it’s a leftist or centralist position. It’s never just here: ‘Here are the facts and take what you want with that and, you know, in that knowledge,’ it’s always an opinion being given. I think that is what’s dividing our country and I think that we need to stop being so divided because that’s what’s hurting us right now. If we’re able to just look at the facts and look at what needs to be done and what we need to accomplish inorder to make sure that everybody in the United States is getting proper treatment, that they’re getting adequate health care and that they’re able to be financially stable. Like, if we just look at all the details and take what we must with it, then we would be in a much better state.”
Q: How has the government handled COVID-19? And how are you responding to the outbreak of the Convid-19 virus?
A: “I think that the United States responded, pretty slow to begin with. But we’re recognizing that this is a serious matter, and it’s affecting our daily lives, more and more each day with each passing day. So we’re trying to get on top of it. And I’m glad that we’re now rolling out vaccines.And now we’re actively working towards getting back to some sense of normalcy. And I’m personally making sure that I’m doing what I can to get the word out on social media, I just repost any crucial information that I see when I see it. And I think if everyone does that, then just having that public knowledge will help in some way shape or form it. It’s never too small of an act to just tell somebody about something to share a post.”
Q: How would you say, you were handling the stay at home orders versus the beginning? To now? Has anything changed? Or has it just been the same for you?
A: I think it’s been the same. I only go out when necessary, to be honest. I always wear my mask, of course. When the pandemic first hit, I believe masks were not mandatory, at first, just required to stay at home. So we would walk around the neighborhood, you know, and make sure we kept our distance from people. Now, we found ways to be creative and exercise at home, you know, staying active and doing what we can, while we’re in this state. And I think that’s what most people are trying to do trying to find ways to occupy themselves while they’re at home. And that’s, that’s something that, that has definitely helped. Because during this time, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself, and a lot about what I like to do, and I’ve been getting creative, you know, making videos or just just editing things. I never wouldn’t have been sitting down and taking the time to do so. Had I not been in quarantine. I think it’s definitely been a good and a bad thing.
Q: How do you feel about virtual learning? What has been your total experience so far ?
A: “It’s a bittersweet feeling. Because knowing that, you know, the younger kids aren’t able to get the full attention that they need. They’re not getting what we got coming up as kids. Like the library, for example. You can’t go to the library for workshops, and that’s what I used to do. And I, I think that’s what helped me when I was younger, stay, stay interested in my studies, like even as a little fourth grader, you know, it’s the little things like that, that they don’t get now because of virtual learning, and I think that we need to work a little harder in that regard to make sure that kids are getting what they need. Because they’re there. They need engagement, your attention spans, like, just watching someone speak to you just listening as if they’re in a lecture. For younger kids, it’s not going to work the way it will for college students, like for college students is not as bad because we’re okay with listening to a lecture. That’s to be expected. We’re supposed to do that anyways, that’s what would be happening. We’ve been in the classroom but for, for younger kids, I think we need to step it up, raise the bar a little bit.”
Q: What keeps you going during these trying times?
A: “Honestly social media. That’s the main way I keep in contact with other people right now, even though we can’t do activities like we used to.With it I am still able to talk with my friends and see what other people are doing and creates a sense of comfort for me in a way.”
Q: What are your hobbies or extracurricular activities that have kept you busy during quarantine?
A: “It’s not quite new, but I downloaded a app called ‘Memorize,’ which is a language learning app. I used my Ipad (given by Delaware State) and changed the language settings on it and used it as an immersion source. It’s been really helpful, to help me practice and learn French and Punjabi…I’ve even been watching Netflix shows in these languages as well.”
Q: How would you describe your philosophy of life? What principles keep you grounded and moving forward?
A: “Well, I’m a Christian and I live by the bible and I live by love. I treat others the way I would want to be treated. And I just start always with respect and give that constantly and I expect the same in return. Even if i don’t get the same in return, it’s still respect, because that’s what is due, that’s what Jesus would do.”
Q: Ending this interview with a memorable quote from you: What is your message to the world?
A: “Bloom where you’re planted.’ I know it’s an odd saying. I choose that saying because I feel as though at one point in time I thought that the only way I would be able to succeed in life is if I were to go somewhere like California or New York, or Georgia and make a name for myself there. But, you know it starts where you’re at, it starts with you. It’s an internal success; because what do you think you’re going to do in New York or California if you’re not doing it where you’re at right now? You can’t expect to be successful somewhere else, if you’re not successful where you are at right now.”
Maya Bythwood is just one example of the many Delaware State University students who continues to leave her mark on campus and those around her! Her willingness to put in the effort and her determination to pursue her goals, exemplifies the impact that she has on Delaware State University and vise versa.