Meet Maria Ricks
Degree: BA Political Science ’20
Minor: Criminal Justice
Co-op: Cybersecurity Co-Op, Comcast
Awards: A.J. Drexel Scholarship
Which element of your Drexel experience do you identify with most, and why?
The co-op program is what attracted me to Drexel, and it has definitely been the best experience of my college career. If I hadn’t transferred to Drexel, I would not be as experienced as my peers career wise. That is because previously, I was going to school and working 30 hours a week just to support myself. Drexel’s connections allowed me to interview with companies I otherwise would not have been able to. The support I have gotten through the co-op program has allowed me to dedicate time solely to developing myself professionally, and I could not be more thankful for that.
Tell us more about your co-op experience.
My co-op has been beyond what I ever imagined it could be. Before this co-op, I had never worked in a traditional office setting. The people I work with support me and have helped provide me with all sorts of skills. The employers really do tailor the co-op experience to what you are looking to gain. Unlike traditional internships, I feel like I am a regular member of the team. It has really taken the fear out of life after college for me.
What led you to choose your major?
I had reached a crossroads in my junior year of high school, where I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I had always been in debate club but never thought of politics as a viable career. One day, I went to a parade with my mom and met a representative from Joe Sestak’s 2016 campaign team. At first, I was just supposed to be a volunteer. But I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and was soon making 50 campaign calls a week. On my 17th birthday, his team reached out to me and offered me a position as an intern. And the rest was history.
What is one thing a faculty member has told you that has stuck with you?
The reason I transferred to Drexel was actually because of an experience I had with a professor when visiting a friend on campus. I was waiting for my friend in the lobby of one of the buildings, watching the news. A professor came up to me and asked me about how I felt about the news topic, then began to mentor me and offer advice. It meant a lot to me, because he didn’t have to do that; I wasn’t his student, but he genuinely seemed to care about influencing the future in a positive way.
I’ve had similar experiences with all the professors in my major. They will go out of their way to help someone out or to offer an opportunity. And it’s not just students — all of the professors help out the community of Philadelphia in some way, even outside of work.
What has made your experience at Drexel special or unique?
I have been given the opportunity to work at several of Drexel’s open houses and to talk to prospective students and their families. It’s been a great fit for me because I’ve only been at Drexel for a year, so I remember all of the questions I had when looking for colleges. It’s been amazing to see the awe and excitement these prospective students have when visiting the campus. It really is contagious.
What are your goals for after graduation?
I hope to go on to law school. All of my courses have prepared me for this career path in some way. Through conducting interviews, I’ve learned how to get better information with a goal in mind. Through writing essays, I’ve gained communication skills. And through presentations, I’ve improved my public speaking. Drexel has given me many opportunities to hone life-long skills.