Gustie of the Week: Maritza Beltran

Emma KelseyStaff Writer

This week’s Gustie of the Week is Junior Maritza Beltran, Co-President of OLAS (Organization for LatinX American Students), member of the Women’s Rugby team, and Computer Science major.

Beltran says that these three areas bring all her interests and values together. “I love being active and strengthening myself, and playing rugby not only enables me to measure my strength, but it also helps to hone my communication skills and creates a unique community for me to be part of. OLAS has really helped me learn more about Latin American culture and to strengthen and broaden my identity as a Mexican American specifically. I love being part of OLAS because it gives me the opportunity to help shape a community where other students who might have trouble finding their way on campus can feel safe and at home. Lastly, I love being a computer science major because it challenges me academically and intellectually, and it also serves as a foundation for future financial stability,” Beltran said.

Beltran’s favorite part of Gustavus, she shares, is its community. As a First-year student, she was unsure about finding her place here, but as she’s grown, she has found that she doesn’t have to change herself in order to be a part of the community. Beltran shares that her involvement in things like OLAS and Rugby has really helped her grow and feel at home at Gustavus.

Senior Ana Martinez Magana has known Beltran since Beltran’s first year at Gustavus and has witnessed improvement in her leadership skills, and her growth overall as a person. She says that Beltran is a passionate person, has strong academic skills, and is a great friend.

“She is proof that with perseverance, discipline, passion, and skills you could be successful in life no matter what others think about you, you CAN prove them wrong. I am so proud of everything she has accomplished with OLAS, spreading diversity on campus, advocating for others, and being an excellent student,” Martinez Magana said.

Faculty member Valerie Walker had Beltran in her J-term challenge seminar this year, Environmental and Climate Change Education for Kids. Walker says she was able to see Beltran take on a leadership role in the group project for the course. She says that Beltran is a leader both in the classroom and on campus, compassionate, hardworking, and committed to justice.

“Maritza describes her leadership style as ‘inviting many voices to the table and then acting on and with the interests of the community.’ She’s willing to do both the big picture thinking and listening, as well as the behind-the-scenes work required to organize and act,” Walker said. Walker explained that Beltran’s wide range of perspectives was able to shine through in the coursework, as she brought knowledge from her Computer Science major, STEM leadership experiences, and passion for Latin American studies and environmental justice and equality.

“Martiza has a great sense of humor and brought energy and joy to her work, even as we discussed the serious implications of climate change and the challenges of educating for sustainability. Her writing is passionate and one of my favorite memories is talking to her group about whether a curriculum for children could be titled ‘What the fork?’ Too risque? Or perfect to capture students’ attention? She and her group members laughed a lot, even when doing serious thinking,” Walker said.

As for Beltran’s current plans and future, she says she is working right now on a travel/social media application with her brother, and an interactive Digital Poetry journey. She hopes they will each be finished and released/published before she graduates. 

“My aspiration for post-graduation is to find a job where I can apply my passion for change into the tech space. I’m also excited to get involved in my community and hope to serve on some sort of city council or committee,” Beltran said.

While Beltran has many hopes and dreams for the future, she is enjoying her time here at Gustavus and having many unforgettable experiences.

“I’ve created several unforgettable memories here at Gustavus, and I’d say that three of them specifically are just equally tied. Participating in LatinX Night was especially significant to me, as it was one of the most significant cultural events to my identity that I’ve had the privilege of attending. Africa Night was also spectacular, and also introduced me to many people who I would consider good friends today. Lastly, my first Rugby 7’s tournament with the Women’s Rugby team would also tie with these events. It helped me form a special bond with my past and current teammates, and set me up to love rugby as much as I do today,” Beltran said.