Spring 2024 grad: Maezy Beams, a transfer student, finds “home” on the UW campus

Maezy Beams, who grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, will be graduating this spring with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture. In this Q&A, she talks about her decision to transfer to UW, finding a supportive community at CALS, and her eagerness to work in a public-facing role in the horticultural field.

Why did you choose your major – and what did you learn, in a nutshell?
I chose horticulture because I love science and understanding how small scientific processes can fit into a bigger picture, from an organismal level to a global scale. I worked at a garden center throughout high school and when I figured out that I could turn it into a career, I couldn’t wait to learn more. Horticulture has allowed me to align every aspect of what I wanted in a career, including rigorous scientific information, working with people, being outside, and potentially making an impact in my community. I can apply subjects such as plant physiology, soil science, community and environmental sociology, and just serve as a friendly face all in a day’s work. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

What activities were you involved in during college?
I have had several internships, including working with the horticulture team at Olbrich Botanical Gardens right here in Madison. I also spend a lot of time working for CALS as a student ambassador, and I love every aspect of my job, especially getting to talk about how amazing being a part of the CALS community is. I am also part of Knit for a Cause here on campus in addition to volunteering at Badger Rock Middle School helping out with their garden/cooking class.

What are your future academic and/or career plans – short-term and long-term?
I am still in the early stages of exploring what area of horticulture I want to stay in, but I know for sure that I have found a home in public horticulture. I love working with people and have great experiences working in public gardens, so I hope to find a place where I can continue to make an impact in my community. After graduation, I have a long-term internship set up with the horticulture team at Chicago Botanic Gardens, where I am hoping to get involved in their community outreach programs and their horticulture therapy program. Regardless, I am excited to learn from them, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

What were the most meaningful college experiences you had?
I have had so many incredible experiences in college so far, but one of the things I continue to come back to is being a student ambassador for CALS. I came in as a transfer student and felt a bit like a fish out of water compared to my former (much smaller) school, but the more I integrated myself into the CALS community, the more at home I felt. Now, I am able to help ease the minds of a variety of students and make sure they come to college knowing that they can find a home here at UW just like I did. I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of the student ambassador team, and I am very fortunate to be able to share my experience with so many people.

When you think about your time here as a student, what are you proud of?
I think one of the things I am most proud of is all of the little things that have gone into making me a well-rounded student and allowing me to feel ready for graduation. After being a UW student for only 2.5 years, I feel like I have created a place for myself on this campus. I have worked with the community outside of campus, formed close relationships with my professors and peers, and set myself up for success through my internships and extracurriculars. I thank my younger self for taking the chance of picking up everything and transferring to UW because it allowed me to dive in headfirst and create a college career that not only sets me up for exactly where I want to go but is also something I couldn’t be prouder of.

Do you have any advice you’d like to share with CALS students?
Trust in yourself and trust in your community. The biggest misconception that I had coming into college was that I had to have a set path throughout my four years and that changing my mind was too complicated or not feasible. Now, I have leaned into the dynamic process of finding what I want to do after graduation, and it truly is the best thing I have done for myself. Knowing that I can branch out as much as I wish to and that college is the perfect time to do so has opened doors for me that I couldn’t have imagined had I stuck to what was ‘easy.’ By trusting in yourself and trusting that your community will continue to lift you up as the CALS community has done for me, I feel as though everyone can come out of college heading in exactly the direction they want to go.