Maya Love ’20 leads with compassion, confidence

Maya Love’s campaign slogans write themselves.

“Lead with Love” has been her rallying call during three years at CMC, but Love’s actions have meant far more than those words, in both big and small ways. Love ’20 is now President of the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College, having served as ASCMC’s Diversity and Inclusion Chair last year. As a starting guard on the CMS Athenas basketball team, Love tellingly was also last season’s team leader in assists and rebounds.

Wherever she is, Love is always looking out for others. “We’re a small liberal arts school. We see the same faces passing by on campus,” Love said. “It can mean so much to check in with someone who might need your help, to send a note to another student when they get an internship or receive some good news.”

Being ASCMC President also means Love has a special platform to advocate on behalf of her peers. Often, students either don’t know how to get an issue addressed on campus or see student government as a bureaucratic institution with built-in limitations. Love aims to change that.

The Denver native especially gets a kick when she is greeted with a playful “Hey, Prez” on campus. By making herself available to personal concerns, whether about mental health awareness, college affordability, or diversity and inclusion, fellow students know Love, and know that she cares, said Dianna Graves ’98, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students.

“Maya creates space in the room for everybody,” Graves said. “One of her gifts is that she is able to work effectively with administrators to help us truly understand where students are coming from. But she also helps students learn about the ways we’re trying to be attentive to their needs, which shines a light on both ends of the community to create a really productive relationship.”

Connecting with compassion

Love said her compassion for others comes from the example of her parents, Tracy and Lisa Love. As police officers, Love’s mother and father are both role models and authority figures to those they interact with in the community.

The family (including Love, her brother T.J., and sister Trinity) would help pick up trash, volunteer at food drives, and host summer basketball clinics in their neighborhood. Her mom was also involved in a mentorship program for youth in underserved Denver communities, which informed one of Love’s favorite mottos: “Always be thinking outside of yourself.”

Leading by example, in word and action, is important to Love. And yet looking back at her freshman self, the idea of being ASCMC President—the first African American woman to do so—didn’t feel natural, she said. While in high school, Love admitted to only taking “baby steps” as a leader, largely due to a lack of confidence. At CMC, she’s turned a corner thanks to encouragement from others.

“When I first came to CMC, I didn’t know who I wanted to be. But I found so much support that I became more and more comfortable putting myself out there,” Love said. “Now I have a leadership presence that is very natural—and I feel incredibly empowered to contribute to this community.”

Shaping the future

While student government tends to dominate her schedule, Love still finds time to engage in two primary passions: sports and travel. An International Relations and Government dual major (with a Leadership sequence), Love studied in Dakar, Senegal, and Toulouse, France, this past summer. The multilingual experience gave her a “holistic view of what it meant to be a global citizen” and is steeped in her childhood dream of becoming a U.S. Ambassador.

Finding balance as a well-traveled scholar and competitive athlete is also one of the reasons she chose CMC. A highly-decorated basketball player in Denver, Love can do it all for the Athenas. She was the only player in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to close last season with a double-double average (points and rebounds) while also leading the conference in rebounds at 11.2 per game.

The latter accomplishment is her biggest point of pride: Fitting since the job of a rebounder is to create space, secure the ball with authority, and give teammates multiple shots at success. Love recognizes that she can’t serve campus alone—and she’s quick to credit her ASCMC peers for helping to shape CMC’s future. It’s fun to be “The Prez,” but Love’s goal is to empower everybody to find their individual voice.

“I’m a big believer in passing the torch,” Love said. “It’s important to me that underclassmen, especially, see what I’m doing and say, ‘I want to give that a try, too. I want to be a student leader. I want to make a difference with others.’

“We’re all part of the CMC community. So let’s keep building something great together.”

Thomas Rozwadowski